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Getting Too Much of a Good Thing

18 Jul

Stanford Business Center for Innovation recently published an article on how to avoid “Social Good Fatigue” and to be honest it rang a bell with me. While my work still motivates me more than anything else I do in my life, I still feel sometimes I must try something else.

The article argues that social entrepreneurs live in a state of permanent emotional drain produced by dealing with people and problems all the time, selling hope and mobilizing others to create change. Creating change is never a straightforward event, we deal with complex issues requiring complex solutions. People prefer to stick with simple resolutions. The social entrepreneur is always dealing with urgent issues. In our case, we often deal with life and death issues, knowing that if we slow down some people are going to go without assistance that they often need to stay alive. This means that the rest of our lives get a back seat. My husband constantly argues that I do not have time for him or for the family. He is right. Because we concentrate so much on one issue, we often stop learning and growing, stop taking side roads, smelling flowers, enjoying the family, reading a good book. We are in a constant state of flux, that success often contains the seeds of failure. When I look at my journey, I see this so clearly, every success I have had has been followed by failure. I cannot forget that every single innovation has been met with failure to begin with. We get used to this, but it is consuming.

The article spells out several remedies to this “burn-out” syndrome. Most of them I have followed during my 17 years of being a social entrepreneur. Particularly during the past four years I have made time to reach out to friends, particularly childhood friends. Our conversations have nothing in common and perhaps that is the beauty of it all. We talk about things of no consequence. I engage in a lot of physical activity. I get up at 4:00 a.m., do a half hour of yoga, and then put my scull on the water and row for two hours. I have been doing this for 10 years, and I find that rowing in the dark allows me to meditate, calm my mind, and re-arrange things. I hope I am never forced to give this up. I am also planning my trip to Nepal, something I have been trying to do for many years. I know that if I wait longer, I may not be able to physically do it. Whatever I want to do, I do today.

I have told my daughter that I would like to retire in two years because I have a new idea that I want to develop before I leave this world. It is when you let go of things that you are truly creative and it is in this process of creation that I feel best. After all, like the article says, “You never conquer the mountain, you can only conquer yourself.”

The Hispanic Paradox

11 Dec

The growing numbers of ethnic seniors throughout the U.S. continue to experience a litany of problems when accessing services. Among them, language and cultural barriers, a fragmented service delivery system and a lack of properly trained bilingual staff with heavy case loads. But they have a big advantage – longevity despite their lack of access to healthcare, lack of health insurance, lack of education, acute poverty and obesity and diabetes rates that hover at epidemic levels, they live longer than any other group in the U.S. Hispanic men live an average of 80 years, 2 years longer than their white counterparts and Hispanic women live to be 85 years, 7 years longer than any other group. 33% of them have lower mortality rates from heart disease and 36% lower incidences of cancer.

Over one million individuals in Florida, that are over the age of 60, are Hispanic. An advantage of catering to Hispanic elders is what it is commonly called the “Hispanic” paradox. Hispanics, despite their socio-economic hurdles and lack of access to healthcare, live longer than blacks by seven years and whites by five years. Overall, Hispanic seniors are much healthier than expected. The reasons for this paradox are still a matter of debate. Many suggest that factors such as diet, comprised mostly of beans, rice, fruit and vegetables; lifestyle choices and strong social-support networks are key to understanding Hispanics’ better-than-expected health.
However, these benefits, that they bring with them, gets weakened in the U.S. Second generation Hispanics do not benefit from this longevity. Many argue that the reason is the fact that being in the U.S. produces a change in their diets and exercise routines. Researchers in the U.S. are perplexed about this phenomena but at the same time, they are studying the factors responsible for the longer life expectancy in the hope to arrive at a set of principles that will reduce disease rates for all racial and ethnic groups.

Hispanic seniors

2 Mar

We live in an aging world with countries like Japan and Italy with 21.6% of their population 65 years and older.  Our nation is still relatively young with an elderly population of less than 13% but that is about to change.  The baby boomers who started turning 65 last year will add 75 million more seniors and the percentage of seniors in this country will rise to 20% within the next ten years.  This is good news  if you are getting older while remaining healthy.  Unfortunately for the large number of low and middle income seniors staying healthy and having access to services is not always an option.     The growing number of Hispanic seniors continues to experience a litany of problems when accessing services, among them, language and cultural barriers, a fragmented service delivery system and lack of trained bilingual staff.

Take for example my own state of Florida where over one million individuals are 65 years and older and few have access to critical healthcare services.  Luckly for our Hispanic community they are part of what is called the Hispanic paradox which means that despite their socioeconomic hurdles and lack of access they live longer than anyother ethinic or racial group by seven or more years.  This is because Hispanic seniors are much healthier than expected and the reasons for this paradox are a matter of debate.  Many suggest that factors such as diet, lifestyle choices and a strong social support network are key in understanding Hispanics’ better-than-expected health.  Another favorable condition of Hispanics in Florida include declining disability rates, lower rates of Medicaid use and low utilization of nursing home care.