Featuring: Helen Gagel and Pam Butterfield


Helen Gagel (L) and Pam Butterfield know that singing is not only cool, but also a healthful pursuit for older adults.  They sing with the Encore Chorale in Evanston, IL.  They are pictured here at the 25th annual Aging Well Conference, where Encore entertained the attendees.

About Encore:  Washington, DC-based Encore Creativity was born of the Creativity and Aging Study at George Washington University in 2006.  The study measured mental, physical, and social benefits for older adults who had the opportunity to sing under a professional conductor. Encore’s Founder and Artistic Director, Jeanne Kelly, built on the results of that study to establish choirs for older adults in the Washington, DC area.  More information:

Jonathan Miller, founder and artistic director of Chicago a cappella, a professional vocal ensemble that enjoys high praise from both critics and audience, brought Encore to the Chicago area, initially as an affiliate of the national organization, now independent.  In just over two years, he has seeded seven choirs involving more than 350 older adults. This year, with his wife Sandra Siegel Miller, Jonathan launched the Good Memories Choir, serving people with early-stage dementia. More information:

Helen Gagel, who has served on Chicago a cappella’s board of directors for 12 years, was eager to help Jonathan Miller launch Encore in Evanston, not only as a singer herself, but also based on her experience leading North Shore Village, an aging-in-place community organization, and her service on the Age Friendly Evanston Task Force.  Helen called on her Evanston network to help find rehearsal space for Encore and to publicize the chorale, now in its third season.

Pam Butterfield, a former school social worker, joined Encore in its first season.  About the experience, she says, “Singing with others is cool because the joy that you experience in hearing your song internally is made more glorious by sharing the music.”



The photo above shows eight people who served as VISTA volunteers in Reserve, LA in 1968.  We gathered in New Orleans to celebrate our 50th anniversary.  (VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America, which was founded in the early 1960s as the “domestic Peace Corps.”  The program is now part of Americorps.)  At the time, we were fresh-faced kids just out of college who thought we could save the world.  Fifty years later, we are not quite so fresh-faced, but we still believe that we can—and should—make a difference in the world by being involved in community service and political and social action.  We all agreed that we are still cool after all these years.

Another Look at “Successful Aging”

Author Jeanette Leardi has allowed Old People are Cool to repost this blog contribution which originally appeared on the website ChangingAging:

Another Look at “Successful Aging”

We need to replace that unproductive and discriminatory paradigm with one that is realistic, compassionate, and fair –– one requiring an equal commitment between the individual and society.


Featuring Joyce Williams, Blogger

Today it is our pleasure to share insights from blogger extraordinaire Joyce Williams! Joyce began her blog one year ago ( and has used her platform to challenge ageism in the main stream media and greater society. Last year, Joyce’s journey to blogging was featured in this inspiring Daily Record article. Below is an excerpt from our conversation:

Linked Senior: What are you most passionate about?

Joyce Williams: Being curious…anything and everything. Going for a walk and exploring, meeting people and asking questions, reading all things in print. The internet is amazing.

(LS): Do you have words of wisdom for younger generations?

(JW): Don’t be afraid of old age. It is truly a great time of life…when you are free, you know what you like, you know looks don’t matter a lot, but laughter, joy in life and sharing happiness is delightful. And sex is even better!

(LS): What are a few of your favorite memories from your childhood and young adulthood?

(JW): Building fires in the woods and making ‘dampers’ (twists of dough made from flour and water to cook on elderberry sticks). We were out all day, no one cared where we were or what we did so long as we were home for tea.

(LS): What accomplishment in your life so far are you most proud of?

(JW): Probably creating this new career at 80+! I enjoyed learning to blog and reaching out to and meeting the world. Great to feel that maybe the blog and my alter ego Grandma Williams are doing something to change the current sad, unhelpful image painted of later years. And amazed to find myself a finalist in the 2018 UK Blog Awards. Wow! That would change the image of later years.

Wear Your Years With Pride

You’ve probably heard the saying “Getting old is not for sissies.” But, did you know who is credited with originating that sentiment? It was the actress Bette Davis. If that’s a new fact you’ve just learned, then it’s a good example of why getting older is so wonderful.

We keep learning, and growing, and discovering all kinds of interesting things. Celebrate the miracle of each new day as the gift it is meant to be.

“Old people are cool” is the name of a campaign recently embarked on by our friends at Linked Senior. This initiative is focused on promoting the positive experience of growing older by celebrating all that people are and do as they age. They have initiated a crusade against ageism, and we are happy to join in.

A great deal of thought was put into using the word “old.” After all, most of us fight looking and feeling old. Those first gray hairs, wrinkles, or aches and pains herald an all-out war in the form of dyes, creams, and medications. Most people don’t like to think of themselves as old, but the truth is we should wear our years with pride. The experiences lived, the lessons learned, the wisdom gained—all add up to a better self. And then there’s the issue of time, and as we age, there seems to be more of it every
day—time to stop and smell the roses as they say.

So, instead of getting up early and dragging yourself to work—sleep as long as you want, get dressed at your leisure, do the things you want to do, and, most of all, be at peace with yourself.

Let’s celebrate the word old and embrace all the wonderful things our many years have given us.

– Excerpt from Activity Connection article

*Contest* Old People are Cool because…

We are excited to announce an Old People are Cool contest! We are launching this contest to celebrate the many reasons why old is cool in order to promote a world that is loving, aging and united!

Visit our Facebook Page starting this Monday and post a photo or video to our wall or send us a direct message that finishes the sentence: Old People are Cool because...

Winners will be announced by November 30th. The top ten submissions will receive a *free* Old People are Cool T-Shirt!

Submissions will be accepted starting Monday November 13th until 5pm EST on Monday November 27th.

Some ideas to get your started, submitted by our friends at Activity Connection:

 Old People are Cool because …

  • They have so many life experiences and wisdom.
  • Their stories are inspiring. They love new things and are grateful.
  • They are a wealth of knowledge.
  • They teach us everything we know.
  • Their lives enrich mine.
  • They are honest.
  • They appreciate the little things you do.
  • Their wisdom and strength and the way I feel when with them.
  • They’ve been through it all!
  • Their life experiences and the changes they have seen.

*By submitting on Facebook you are agreeing to let Linked Senior share your contribution publicly.

Featuring Wes Morrison, Renaissance Man

At a recent Aging2.0 gathering in Washington, DC, the Linked Senior team had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Morrison speak about his inspiring life experiences and how he overcame ageism in the work place. We are thrilled that we could continue the conversation with Mr. Morrison below:

(Linked Senior): What makes you cool?

I let others determine whether I am cool or not. Cool is very subjective for each person has their perception of what is cool. What I try to project is openness and friendliness to all people. I try to make each person feel special. The renaissance man knowledge of many varied topics as well as a sense of style that is uniquely mine. 

(LS): What are a few of your favorite memories from childhood and young adulthood?

I was raised by my grandmother and aunt in Durham, North Carolina. My aunt who was a school teacher, she was my “Auntie Mame” taught me to look at the world as a whole and to enjoy the rich cultures of other nations.

 Upon graduation from college I gave myself the present of going to Europe to study fine arts. At the end of the tour I returned to Paris on my own to look for work in fashion design.  On the train from Rome to Paris, the train compartment was shared by some college students from Italy.  I didn’t speak Italian and they didn’t speak English but we all had elementary French. So we enjoyed each other speaking in a language not native to us.  That is truly a highlight in my life.

(LS): What are you most passionate about?

I am passionate  about seniors ability to live and be happy in their retirement years. Especially LGBTQ  seniors.  Also the social and racial injustices that are plaguing America now.

(LS): Do you have any words of wisdom for younger generations?

Yes put down  your cellphone and talk to each other in sentences. Technology is causing us to lose the ability to empathize with our fellow men. The time is coming fast we wont need to leave our homes for anything.  You can now order fully cooked meals or  meals to cook your self,  order clothes, shoes, razors, paper towels and of course telecommute for work.

(LS): What accomplishment in your life so far are you most proud of? 

I am proud of the fact God has given me the gift of trustworthiness. People know they can trust me to help them even if sometimes they don’t want it or the outcome may not be what they hoped for.