Wendy Miller, PhD REAT, ATR-BC, LPC, LCPAT disrupted the stereotype of aging when Jewish Family Service hosted her for two seminars about Creative Aging, Monday, August 21, 2017. Professionals earned 1.5 CEs when she presented Rethinking the Paradigm of Aging. Later that day, Creative Aging: Soaring Beyond Limitations was presented free to the public by Jewish Family Service Alan R. Mack Speaker Series. Both events were sponsored by CareLink: Your Experts in Aging.
Miller shared how we live in a culture where aging is often looked at as a negative phenomenon. “We see this through ‘humorous’ birthday cards, and dismissive phrases such as ‘the autumn of your life.’ But we need to stop these misconceptions of aging and start focusing on the potential beyond problems,” says Miller.
Older adults can reach their potential through creative aging, which encourages the development of evolving strengths. Although people tend to believe that only children and young people are creative, Miller assured the crowd that this is not true, saying, “Creativity is simply just bringing something new into your life. It can be a big seed or it can be a small seed, either way it will help increase psychological growth.”
Miller encouraged the audience to claim their social creativity and debunk the myth that talent dims with age. “Ask yourself ‘what can I do because of age, not in spite of age?’”
The audience learned that positive changes happen to the brain as we grow older. “The brain is continually re-sculpting itself in response to experience and learning. New brain cells form throughout life, and we start to use both the left and right side of our brain more equally.”
To challenge the preconceptions of aging equating decline, Miller used readings from her book, Sky Above Clouds: Finding our way through creativity, aging and illness. Miller co-wrote the book with her husband Dr. Gene Cohen, a pioneering geriatric psychiatrist who passed away before the book was completed.
“My husband had cancer. This wasn’t ‘aging’. This was disease. But in the most practical ways it appeared to ‘age’ him, and this his illness, and others’ responses, brought him and his subject together,”she said.
Reflecting on her choosing the book’s title while her coping with her husband’s illness, she said, “There is no denying that clouds occur with aging. Life always has clouds, but there is clear sky – blue sky – found above the clouds.”
Miller supports the use of creativity as a catalyst for hope, love, and healing under any circumstance, illness or age. “Creativity is what makes you feel more alive. The brain savors new experiences.”
In addition to this speaker event on aging, Jewish Family Service offers a free monthly LifeLabs educational support group, Caring for Aging Parents. The public is also invited Wednesday, November 15, 2017 to the free discussion, “Help Me Help My Aging Parents.” Visit the Jewish Family Service website, www.jfscinti.org for more information.
Jewish Family Service receives support in part from Jewish Federation Cincinnati, United Way of Greater Cincinnati, The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, and the Claims Conference. Interim HealthCare is an agency sponsor.
Wendy Miller, PhD will share how creativity can be a catalyst for hope, love, and healing under any circumstance and at every age, enabling individuals to grow beyond the limitations imposed by both illness and aging.
Monday, August 21, 2017
7 - 8:30 pm - Followed by a book sale and signing
Cooper Creek Event Center
4040 Cooper Rd, Blue Ash, OH 45241
How can our own individual creativity be a catalyst for hope, love, and healing under any circumstance and at every age? What happens at the intersections of adversity and possibility, of crisis and creativity, of health and illness?
Expressive arts therapist and writer Wendy Miller and her husband Gene Cohen, a pioneering geriatric psychiatrist and writer about creative aging, devoted distinguished careers and their life together finding answers to these questions.
Creative aging focuses on growth through creativity, wisdom, and resilience - because of, and not in spite of, aging.
In her book Sky Above Clouds: Finding Our Way Through Creativity, Aging and Illness, Miller writes of her life as the wife and collaborator of the late Gene Cohen. Cohen was the first head of the Center on Aging at the National Institute of Mental Health and a dedicated advocate of the idea that the aged are capable of functioning at high levels of creativity and intellectual rigor.
Miller will reflect upon Cohen's groundbreaking work on aging, their work together, and his experiences with terminal illness even as he continued his life's work. She will share how creative aging was able to enliven their work even as his own monumental life force ebbed, and describe how creative aging can enable individuals to grow beyond the limitations imposed by both illness and aging.
During Creative Aging: Soaring Beyond Limitations, Miller will help participants to:
1. DISCOVER new clues about how the aging mind can build resilience and continue growth, even during times of illness, grief, and dying, thus setting aside the traditional paradigm of aging as a time of decline.
2. EXPLORE how creative engagement with a focus on potential is a resource in facing existential challenges, loss, and identity
3. REVIEW what happens to the brain as it ages and the potential that is often overlooked
4. LEARN new tools to navigate the uncharted territories of aging, grieving, illness, loss, dying, and death
Professionals are also invited to attend a 1.5 CE event presented by Wendy Miller, PhD, Rethinking the Paradigm of Aging. Learn more
Bio: Wendy Miller Ph.D., LPC-BCPC, ATR-BC, LCPAT, REAT, has her PhD in Clinical Psychology with Specializations in Expressive Arts Therapy and Health. She is an expressive arts therapist, licensed professional counselor, educator, writer, and sculptor, She is the co-founder of Create Therapy Institute offering clinical services in arts-based psychotherapy and trainings in experiential approaches to learning. Her clinical work with individuals and families across the life-cycle addresses existential and identity issues and relationships among the arts, creativity, aging, and health. Her book, Sky Above Clouds: Finding our way through creativity, aging and illness is based on writings with her late husband Gene Cohen.
Miller has taught throughout the country at many universities, including GW, SF State, JFK University, Lesley, and CIIS. She is an integrative thinker, whose skills take her into the worlds of fine art, writing, and mind-body medicine. She has published on medical illness and the arts as complementary medicine, the use of sand tray therapy with internationally adopted children, experiential approaches to supervision in expressive arts therapy, and the cultural responsibility of the arts in therapy. Her current work continues Cohen's legacy in creative aging. She is now running his Washington, DC, Center on Aging, where she is guiding it into projects on intergenerational communication. She continues to research the relationships among the arts, creativity, and health.
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