The idea of creating the Conversation Circles came about in an effort to create a sense of community at the Institute for the Ages. We wanted to engage the 50+ community by bringing them into our office on a regular basis around various topics of interest and initiating dialogue and encouraging camaraderie. Currently, the Institute has 3 Conversation Circles: Universal Design, Positive Aging and Happiness, and Technology & Aging.
More Circles are planned for the future in various locations throughout Sarasota County. Initial topics were chosen by readers of the Institute’s Enewsletter. The other primary purpose for creating the Circles was to support the mission of the Institute; namely Catalyzing Innovation, Engaging Community, and Evangelizing Positive Aging.
Current Titles & Topics of Discussion
Positive Aging and Happiness. There has been a shift in how we think about aging. We used to look at deficits as people age; now we look at the positive contributions older people make and the happiness that can go along with aging. Happiness is now a legitimate avenue for academic study. Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology suggests that we all have an emotional baseline to which we inevitably return. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, one’s happiness level is determined by three things: 50% by one’s emotional baseline, 10% by one’s life circumstances and 40% by “intentional activity.” Discussion of how to boost your happiness, how to influence the community to treat older people with dignity, and look at older people’s assets rather than deficits is worthwhile to discuss.
Universal Design. Universal design refers to broad-spectrum ideas meant to produce buildings, products and environments that are inherently accessible to older people and to people with and without disabilities. The term “universal design” was coined by the architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life. Universal design emerged from slightly earlier barrier-free concepts, the broader accessibility movement, and adaptive and assistive technology and also seeks to blend aesthetics into these core considerations. Universal design is also being applied to the design of technology, instruction, services, and other products and environments. Explore this topic as it relates to Sarasota County and discover the trends in this field.
Technology & Aging. The pace of technological change has evolved so rapidly in our society, that many older adults struggle to adapt and adopt new technology that can help them stay connected and enhance their ability to live independently as they age. Research exists that examines the relation of technology to every aspect of an older adults’ life, including safety issues, social interaction, cognitive stability, fitness and exercise, religious participation, intergenerational opportunities, amelioration of disabling conditions, nutrition monitoring, etc. Plus technology can bring joy and inspiration to a person’s life. This group can explore the intersection of technology and aging to engage a conversation about the possibilities, not the limitations, of both.
Locations, Discussions & Dates:
Institute for the Ages location – 1991 Main St., Suite 248, Sarasota
Technology & Aging – Every 1st Wednesday of the month, from 3:30-5 pm
Universal Design – Every 3rd Wednesday of the month, from 10:30-Noon
Potter Park Y location – 8301 Potter Park Drive, Sarasota
Positive Aging & Happiness – Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, from 10-11:30 am – Starting in October
There is no cost to participate, and you’re welcome to attend whichever meetings are engaging to you. Circles will meet once a month and are limited to a maximum of 15 people, so please RSVP your desire to participate to Joan at [email protected] or call 941-365-4243.