Emotions and the Aging Process:  

A 10-part cable series of 29-minute programs co-sponsored by the Vermont Society of Modern Psychoanalysis and A Tempo Senior Move LLC 

(This series aired nationally in 2014).  

Program 1: Introduction

Public Radio announcer Naomi Arenberg hosts a thought-provoking series with psychoanalyst and social worker Dr. Ron Ceppetelli. Together they explore the key role that emotions play in the aging process. Through case studies, research and Q&A, viewers gain an understanding of the need for “Receptive Listening” to older and disabled adults, their caregivers, and health providers including nurse’s aides. 

Meet John Rackley, an avid hunter who suffered a spinal cord injury in a trampoline accident. As a C5/6 incomplete quadriplegic outdoorsman, he was frustrated with his conventional wheelchair not being able to get him out in the woods in light snow conditions. Since creating the Renegade wheelchair, John now shovels snow by hand with a 3 foot snowplow attachment on his chair. He also totes firewood with a wagon attachment, fishes with a fishing pole attachment and launches his boat solo. 

Program 3: Family Caregivers and Changes

Learn more about nursing home resident Mary's dramatic transformation encouraged by her supportive family and the power of music!

Program 4: Health Professionals and Stress

How do nurse's aides cope with the accumulative daily stresses of working nursing homes?  Medical rounds mainly focus on the physical aspects of the resident, but what about related emotional factors?

Program 5: Healthcare Environment

In this program we're not talking about organic gardening or air pollution but how the healthcare environment impacts patients, families/caregivers, staff and administration. This includes hospitals, rehabs, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and the home environment. Generally nursing home staff are under great stress as they constantly see residents declining and dying.  And there is an undercurrent of horizontal violence amongst staff who have little support.  Likewise at home the caregiver's level of health often declines quicker then the patient.  Tune in for what can be done.

Program 6: Corporeality

Corporeality, it is not easy to pronounce.  An adjective meaning of the nature of the physical body; bodily.  Why is touching  Mary’s teeth, a nursing home resident, traumatic for her?

Program 7: Management of Feelings

Controlling our feelings: it's an obstacle course for caregivers, family, healthcare staff, and administration.  Working with people at the end of the end of their lives or who are very ill is difficult.  This work consciously or unconsciously makes us think or actively avoid thinking about our own death.  Sometimes clients are sedated in an attempt for staff to manage their own feelings and anxieties.  If staff remain unsupported, they risk burnout which is characterized by 1) emotional exhaustion, 2) depersonalization, an impersonal approach to treating patients, and 3) a low sense of personal accomplishment, characterized by a loss of meaning and purpose of work.

Program 8: Receptive Listening

Receptive Listening. The therapeutic intervention that an analyst provides in response to the client's emotional contacts. Through various responses the analyst is truly "receptive" and not trying to change or judge the client's feelings. Techniques include joining, mirroring, and object oriented questions.  Examples of "receptive listening" include nursing home residents, caregivers/family, and nurses aides.

Program 9: Curiosity

They say "curiosity killed the cat". Not in this situation.  Curiosity takes you beyond yourself and your perspective.  Curiosity is inquiring, being willing to learn, engaging one and another, and receptively hearing other viewpoints. Curiosity helps you grow so you can take action. 

Program 10: Communal Responsibility

A roundtable wraps-up our VSMP cable series on “Emotions and the Aging Process” with a communal action plan for families, friends, caregivers, healthcare providers, and clients. A caregiver relays her heartfelt story of caring for her husband over 8 years while juggling her job as a postmaster – she outlines specific actions that would have been useful from her inner circle. An incomplete quadriplegic outdoorsman talks about his will to live after surviving a severe accident and the support he had from his tightknit community. A nurse underscores the importance of receptive listening combined with observing non-verbal signals, family and cultural contexts in communicating with clients and their relatives.