The Council on Aging of Ottawa | (613) 789-3577 | (613) 789-3577
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Workshop 1 – Understanding My Aging

Explore your thoughts about your life now and in the future and determine for yourself which topics need your attention regarding your own aging.


Aging is, for each of us, a work in progress. During this session, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • determine for themselves which topics need their attention regarding their own aging
  • commit to taking action on at least two of those topics


Alive, Alive Oh! (2004) by Diana Athill

An esteemed editor, Athill has also won awards for her honest, forthright and funny take on aging and life. In this memoir, published when she was 98, Athill has included the story of her transition to a “home for old people.”

The Book of Eve (1973) by Constance Beresford-Howe

Set in Montreal, this novel tells a story of later-life liberation – its joys and its costs. One morning after breakfast, with her pension cheque and a few possessions in hand, 65-year-old Eve Carroll makes the decision to leave her husband of 40 years and indeed her life as she has known it.

The Virtues of Aging (1998) by Jimmy Carter

The former American president explains his book’s title this way: “…the virtues of aging include both the blessings that come to us as we grow older and what we have to offer that might be beneficial to others.”

The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully (2008) by Joan Chittister

A collection of Chittister’s short pieces, each looks at one aspect of aging, embracing “older age as a natural part of life that is both active and contemplative, productive and reflective, and deeply rewarding.”

Bolder: Making the Most of Our Longer Lives (2018) by Carl Honoré

The author of In Praise of Slow and a founder of the slow movement, Honoré now examines his own aging and that of the many others he meets who are, in his view, redefining aging.

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters (2017) by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin was an influential fantasy and science fiction writer, creating imaginary worlds over many decades. In her last years she became a blogger, using her blog as a forum for her witty and compassionate voice. Both social critic and storyteller, Le Guin’s book presents the best of her online writing.

Ninety Years Wise (2004) by Doris McCarthy

Artist McCarthy, summering at her cottage on Georgian Bay, responds to all those who ask for her secret. How are you so old yet so well? Happy? Productive? She insists there is no secret and instead invites the reader to learn of “the elements and attitudes that have added up to my zest for life and my joy in it.”

In My Mind’s Eye (2018) by Jan Morris

After many decades as a highly-praised travel writer and now in her 90s, Morris has decided to keep a diary for the first time. The result is described as warm and insightful as well as “wickedly hilarious.”

Gratitude (2013, 2015) by Oliver Sacks

Sacks was a medical scientist and clinician who lived life large. His eloquent and fearless writing about humanity, the uniqueness of all individuals, and his reflections on his own life provide treasured insight.

At Seventy (1984) by May Sarton

Sarton referred to her journals as “sonatas.” This one-year collection began on the occasion of her 70th birthday. “Why is it good to be old?” she was once asked. “Because I am more myself than I have ever been.”

What Are Old People For? (2004) by William H. Thomas

Geriatrician and founder of the Eden Alternative, Thomas has written an accessible book that explores in detail the purpose for longevity and elderhood.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (2014) by Atul Gawande

Gawande presents eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life – all the way to the very end.

Did You Just Call Me Old Lady? A Ninety-Year-Old Tells Why Aging Is Positive (2016) by Lillian Zimmerman 

An upbeat look at aging and the impacts of Canada’s increasingly aged population through the eyes of a ninety-year-old woman. Lillian Zimmerman gracefully, and often humourously, argues that long-livers are able to live fulfilling lives and make valuable contributions to society.

From Age-ingTo Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach To Growing Older (2014) by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

In this guide, rabbi Zalman shows readers how to create an aging process for themselves that is full of adventure, passion, mystery, and fulfillment, rather than anxiety. He provides new inspiring ideas about the importance of an elder’s role in shaping society, andexplains how elders can embrace the power they have to provide value and wisdom to those around them.

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