Howard Community College lecture urges consideration of 'elderhood' [Letter]

I had the good fortune to attend the first of a new series of lectures at Howard Community College dedicated to advancing the work of the late Paul R. Willging, a greatly respected health planning expert and Columbia resident.

The speaker was Dr. Bill Thomas, who challenged a standing-room-only audience in the College's new Health Sciences Building Oct. 1 to explore and create new ideas regarding "aging" and the whole concept of elder care.

"We are all elders in the making," Thomas reminded the crowd of faculty, students and health care professionals, and he urged that we expand the current view of life as containing only childhood and adulthood to include "elderhood."

"Elders are here to teach us how to live," Dr. Thomas said, and added, "Aging is OK." He decried the "vast ocean of emptiness" experienced by many older people in nursing homes, and urged that we "re-imagine life beyond adulthood" as a peak experience and opportunity. It was an exciting and thought-provoking presentation.

The lecture was made possible by donations to the Paul R. Willging Endowment, and by the college. As Dr. Thomas reminded the audience, "you create a new elderhood by living it," and this lecture has likely started that process.

Andy Barth


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