From the time we’re kids, we’re told to respect our elders. But in many ways, America falls short in heeding that advice.
George Cappannelli’s understanding of aging began to shift as he and his wife, Sedena Cappannelli, witnessed their parents’ end-of-life processes. “It was a startling wake-up call, how unprepared they were. How unprepared we were,” he says. “Then we realized we weren’t alone, and there wasn’t a blueprint in place.”
The longtime consultant, author, and speaker began examining strategies that support seniors. At a conference on aging in Australia, he realized America was trailing far behind the rest of the world. Singapore, Italy, Scandinavia, and other countries were implementing new ways to care for and honor their senior populations — introducing new co-housing models and multigenerational communities, advancing geriatric medicine, and ultimately fostering cultures with respect for elders rather than ageism.
“Cultures that have honored their elders grow stronger; cultures that don’t implode,” says Cappanelli, who is 77. “We decided we wanted to devote the next part of our lives to waking people up.” In 2009, he and his wife founded the Santa Fe-based digital media company AgeNation to serve as a free resource for seniors, caregivers, and families.
They quickly realized that the rapidly growing senior population in the U.S. coincides with a dramatic decline in geriatric medicine and services. (Santa Fe, in fact, has a senior population that’s higher than the national average) This neglect is detrimental to the health of our country, Cappannelli says, and no one’s talking about it, including presidential candidates.
In 2018, AgeNation (AgeNation.com) partnered with New Mexico PBS to host three Ageless Living conferences in Albuquerque and Santa Fe that brought in an impressive lineup of speakers, many of whom were New York Times best-selling authors and renowned for their work in the fields of conscious living and self-development. Gregg Braden, Thomas Moore, Barbara Marx Hubbard, David Suzuki, Bruce Lipton, Anita Moorjani, and John Gray were among them.
The events were filmed in front of live audiences and converted into a collection of 40 half-hour episodes that will air on NMPBS at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays beginning Jan. 25 (the series can also be streamed). A free preview screening will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 W. Marcy St.) and will include a performance by singer-songwriter Madi Sato and group activities for audience members.
Cappanelli hopes the conversation will continue through AgeNation, long after the TV series airs. “Our mission is to redefine what it means to live and age consciously in the 21st century,” he says.