A New Map of Life

Never before have we anticipated living for so long. Those who are in their seventies, eighties or nineties – or even older – are pathfinders in relation to the new map of life that we are having to devise. It is a totally new experience for humankind that so many of us should live for so long. So how do we make the most of this gift of years?

What waymarkers are there? What are the good habits we need to foster, and are there habits we need to let go? And how do we know when it’s right to move aside and let someone else take a turn, especially in relation to church life?

Group work and presentations – and the ever-popular ‘gripe fest’! (Minimum time needed: 3 hours)


Insights from positive psychology emphasise the important link between the attitude and practice of gratitude and wellbeing, especially in later life. There are habits that are worth cultivating in relation to gratitude and these will be considered. A self-assessment of our gratitude habits is also used during the workshop.

Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 3 hours)


Grandparenting is an art form. It is also one of the most nurturing and fulfilling tasks we are given. Biologically we are primed to have an exceptional relationship with grandchildren. However, as families become complicated and spread around the globe, how do we make the best of this precious relationship across the generations?

This workshop is relevant to those with godchildren, nieces and nephews as well as grandchildren and step-grandchildren.  Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 3 hours, but can run to a full day)

Legal issues later in life

PSALM can help you to link with one of your local solicitors to identify the subjects that are particularly relevant to later life. This area has become very important and complex. Therefore this workshop can only provide an overview of the issues rather than personal guidance.

Issues such as living wills and advance directives (in relation to end-of-life care and treatment) can be covered. However it is suggested that these issues are addressed in a separate session in order that time for people ‘to hear themselves think’ can be included.

Predominantly presentations and question-and-answer sessions (Suggested time: one session of 2 hours and one session of 3 hours)

Pastoral Issues, Old & New: Caring for an Ageing Population

This theme is particularly useful for churches considering the development of visiting schemes for residential/nursing homes or for frail elderly people living at home. As a result of these sessions we anticipate that confidence will increase and so too enthusiasm and expertise. We recommend that this subject is considered over three sessions.

The themes to be considered will be agreed in consultation but are likely to include:

  • The implications of rising longevity and falling birth rates
  • The experience of living alone
  • Approaches and possibilities – learning from what other churches are doing
  • Safeguarding
  • Visiting residential care and nursing homes
  • Responding to depression, memory loss and stroke
  • Spiritual needs, engaging with hopes and fears, the place of prayer
  • The importance of activities and stimulation
  • Confidentiality

Presentations, discussion and group work (Minimum time needed: 10 hours over two or three sessions)

The Importance of Listening

Listening is a vital skill – and art. Listening well makes for benefits all round, whether it be in your relationships with family, younger people or pastoral visits. This workshop will focus on non-verbal communication including helpful physical gestures; good responding (the proof of good listening!); the skills of clarifying, open questioning and sensitivity to feelings and overtones; alertness to personal style and habits, and the issue of confidentiality.

Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 5 hours)

Making Prayer Beads

Create a unique prayer bracelet to prompt prayer for the special issues that arise as we grow older. People can work together to take account of limitations in dexterity and sight.

Note: please add the cost of beads (which will be provided) in estimating costs. Participants will need to be seated at tables. This popular practical exercise needs a minimum of 2.5 hours.

Practicing Faith Later In Life

The shape and nature of our faith changes throughout our lives. Research regularly highlights the strong link between religious practice, especially prayer, and psychological wellbeing in old age. This research will be considered as well as prayer techniques and approaches to prayer.

Presentations, discussion and group work (Minimum time needed: 2 hours, but can be extended to a full day workshop of 6 hours)

Preparing for Retirement

One of the challenges in retirement is to find opportunities to deliver on our ‘signature strengths’ (i.e. our distinctive, positive traits) – and the first step in relation to this is to recognise and value our own distinctive signature strengths. The challenge of balancing relaxation with commitments and balancing ‘winding-down’ with new ventures will all be on the agenda. The place of faith and exploring one’s vocation will also be included.

This workshop will not make any reference to financial issues in retirement. It will be of interest to those approaching retirement as well as those who have retired. Presentations, discussion and group work (Minimum time: A full day workshop of 6 hours, or split over two evenings)

Exploring Selfhood Through Art

By looking at portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, this workshop will tease out the elements others have used to express individuality. Each participant will then be encouraged to explore their own selfhood and to create a self-portrait.

No experience, skill or expertise is required and definitely no ability to draw a straight line! Note: please add the cost of paints (which will be provided) in estimating costs. Participants will need to be seated at tables. (Minimum time needed: 4 hours)

Living Well with Memory Loss

Memory loss is greatly feared. This workshop will provide practical tips, consider ways of providing support for those with significant memory loss, and explore coping strategies for things that are beyond our control and when choices are forced upon us. Sources of information will be provided. Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 4 hours)

Memory & Mental Capacity

There are a lot of myths about the impact of age on our cognitive ability. Find out the facts and discover ways of keeping your mental capacity in tip-top condition.  Presentations, discussion and light-hearted quiz (Minimum time needed: 2 hours)

Living Alone Later In Life

Over a third of all households are single-person households. Solo living is growing and it is something that many older people experience, if not now then in the future. Top tips will be shared especially on coping with loneliness, making and keeping friends, and ways of countering anxiety.  Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 3 hours)

Doing Our Dying

Most of us will have experienced the loss that follows the death of a family member or friend, or will have been alongside someone as they draw near to death or been with them as they died. This workshop is an opportunity to reflect on the issues and questions that challenge or unsettle us in relation to death.

The workshop will involve reflecting on the stories each of us has that shape our understanding of the end of life. As well as hearing ourselves think about this important issue, the workshop will also help participants become more aware and sensitive when alongside those who are ‘doing their dying’. Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 5 hours)

When I Die

This workshop looks at funerals and the choices that can be made. There is an opportunity to look through material – poems, hymns, prayers etc., and copies are available for people to take away. Ways of helping one’s executor will also be addressed.

PSALM will seek to work with you to involve a local funeral director to contribute to this workshop. Presentations, discussion and group work (Minimum time: 3 hours)

Reflecting through Lent & Eastertide: A four session series for older people

These sessions are freely available to download from this PSALM website: click here for the relevant page.  If you would like to discuss aspects of the process or content, please phone or email PSALM.

Decluttering In Later Life

Managing the clutter that has accumulated over the decades is a big issue, especially if the need to ‘down-size’ is on the horizon. Top tips will be offered, including the challenge of coping with ‘sentimentals’. This is a fun event but with a very practical focus on a subject that rarely gets considered.

Group work and presentations (Minimum time needed: 2 hours, but can be extended for a full day of 5-6 hours)

Differences & Common Ground

Our world is changing ever more rapidly. Older people are often thought of as being resistant to change. How do older people remain open to the changes around them? Is there an antidote to grumpiness and nostalgia? Can older people also be change-makers? How can the experience and wisdom of older people be accessed by our world?

Group work and presentations – and the ever popular ‘gripe fest’! (Minimum time needed: 3 hours)

Aspects of Loss

As we become really old there are more and more things that we lose… health, loved ones, prowess, to name but a few. Ageing is not for softees! So what things make a positive difference and help build resilience to cope with the tough times?

Group work and presentations. Please note that this workshop is not specifically about bereavement, although those who have been bereaved may find it helpful. (Minimum time needed: 4 hours)

Breath Of Life – Singing for Health

No ability to sing is required because all kinds of noises will be encouraged. The emphasis is as much on breathing, relaxation and meditation as it is on singing.

Access to a piano or keyboard is needed for this mini-series of (ideally) four 2-hour sessions. This series is run by an experienced voice trainer / music therapist and dates will be agreed well in advance.

Gestalt : Being in the ‘here and now’ whatever age and stage of life

Gestalt Therapy was developed by Frederick ‘Fritz’ Perls in the 1950’s and 60’s after he trained with Freud and wanted a more open, active and transparent method  of application. There are always many ‘myths’ about new movements in psychotherapy some helpful, some less so. For this workshop the emphasis would be on the practice of ‘here and now’ awareness and the  clarifying of ‘unfinished business’ and how this interrupts our capacity to relate in partnerships and in groups.

The Revd Maggie Davidge-Smith will run this full-day workshop.  She is a hospital chaplain and also runs a small psychotherapy and supervision practice. Maggie has particular expertise in relation to Gestalt and Transactional Analysis. Maggie will be able to look at how our relationship with God is impacted by the dynamics of our day to day relating.

Health, Healing and Eternity

When we hosted this workshop we reflected on the challenges of living in time and in eternity, and spent an exhilarating half an hour talking in small groups of how time changes as we get older.  Ways to approach the different tasks of the second half of life were suggested and discussed.

This workshop is run by a PSALM associate, Chris Mackenna, who has extensive experience of the healing ministry as well as having thought hard and thought poetically about eternity.  It is best hosted over a full day.

Chris Mackenna is the Director of the St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, an Anglican Priest  and Chaplain to the Guild of Health.  He is a Jungian Psychotherapist and has written extensively on  Christian spirituality and depth psychology.

Satire, Fun and Laughter

Fun and laughter are antidotes to anxiety and health benefits flow from laughter.  There is a lot of laughter associated with this workshop with jokes, artwork and funny stories.  The business of smiling will also come under scrutiny and reflection on how we can cultivate humour and playfulness.

Ideally a day workshop but could be squeezed into a half-day!

Oh no, not beige! Appearance in later life

People often comment that the older we get the more invisible we become. Likewise people often comment on the surprise as the appearance of age hits us as we look in the mirror.  How do we manage our appearance as we get older – do we opt to wear purple or beige? Are there ethical issues that underpin what we have in our wardrobes?

This workshop can be shaped for a half or a full day. Please note that it does not consider or identify particular colours that an individual should wear, rather it reminds participants of the importance of colour in our lives.

Contemplative Ageing

This workshop provides an opportunity to consider and try different approaches to contemplation. Insights into the greater capacity for contemplation that come in later life will be offered. In particular the capacity to transform loneliness into solitude will be explored.

Ideally this workshop needs to be offered over a morning and afternoon, for example 11.00 until 3.30 with a break for lunch.

Eating Well in Later Life

This workshop draws on the expertise of dietitian Gaynor Bussell who is nationally recognised and an experienced expert on nutrition as well as an excellent communicator.  This workshop needs a full day and there is the option for a second follow-up day so that people can report back on their experience.

This is a great motivation event as it encourages participants to discuss their dietary patterns and concerns and obtain more information about areas of interest, to include healthy eating for the older person (with sample menu provided), food groups and values, food labels and supplements and diabetic diets.


As well as practicing ways of saying ‘no’ this workshop provides opportunities to explore the way we take on – and let go of – obligations.  We each have our own way of managing the obligations that come our way or that we opt to take on.  However, in later life the pattern and nature of obligations can change and become more and more demanding.  This workshop enables people to think afresh about obligations and perhaps  resolve to take on some new things and let go of others.

This workshop can be hosted over a half or full day.

Transactional Analysis (TA) in Later Life

Transactional Analysis was devised by Eric Berne and provides a helpful model to explain how people function and express their personality in the way they behave.  TA can help us to understand the ways we think about ourselves and  relate to other people.

The Revd Maggie Davidge-Smith will run this full-day workshop.  She is a hospital chaplain and also runs a small psychotherapy and supervision practice. Maggie has particular expertise in relation to Gestalt and Transactional Analysis. Maggie will be able to look at how our relationship with God is impacted by the dynamics of our day to day relating.

The Enneagram in Later Life

The Enneagram is a tool for understanding ourselves. It provides a map of the psychological forces at work in us – both the healthy and the destructive. There is no aspect of life on which it does not touch. Once you have found yourself on the map, insights and understanding can flow and inform the decision we make in our life.

The workshop needs two days, ideally one day a week over a fortnight. There is a significant amount of information that needs to be presented over the two days as the nine personality patterns are explained and tried on for size.

This workshop is run by Simon Parke, an experienced Enneagram practitioner. Simon is a writer, therapist and retreat giver. He has written a regular column for the Daily Mail and writes each week for the Church Times. He has written a number of books include “The Enneagram” and his latest book is “Pippa’s Progress” – a contemporary version of “Pilgrim’s Progress”

Living in a Different World

Each generation is shaped by the world in which it grew up.  By virtue of being older we have been formed by different influences from younger generations.  During the workshop we consider the books, events and people that have contributed to who we are and how we are.  We also consider the challenges faced by those growing up in today’s world and the ways in which these challenges compare with those of earlier generations.

This workshop needs a full day especially if the famous PSALM Gripe Fest is to be offered and the risk of being a pain to others is to be reflected on.  The day concludes with identifying some rules for life.

Insights from Positive Psychology for Later Life

Positive Psychology focuses on those attitudes and habits that add to our flourishing as older people.  This workshop offers a combination of presentations and discussion, with an encouragement to participants to draw on their personal experience.  Notes are provided to participants to accompany presentations.  This workshop could be hosted over 2 to 3 hours.


Birthdays, Christmas, family celebrations, even street parties for national celebrations, can prompt mixed feelings as we get older.  The workshop provides an opportunity to reflect on how, why and what we want to celebrate and how to manage demands, expectations – and presents!

It can be hosted over half a day: if a full day is available, it is possible to conclude with a Christian variant of Shabbat, a Jewish celebration of the Sabbath.


Is your organisation interested in any of the seminars or workshops listed above or would you like to know more?

The PSALM team would be pleased to answer any questions you may have and will discuss with you any particular needs and aspirations in order to tailor the programme to your specific needs.

All our trainers are experienced and qualified in issues relating to older people and/or adult education.

Please contact us for more information or complete the enquiry form and we will get back to you.

Here are some comments which participants have made about PSALM events…

“How wonderful today has been. Thank you so much. It has lifted our spirits, not just mine, but so many people’s. I can only say thank you and I do mean it, for everything. Indeed, what a great help it has already been, never mind the beginning of the future and what is to follow!”

“These have been refreshing experiences. The personal approach of the leader was compelling and fascinating.”

“I enjoyed the interchange of information, the opportunities to ask questions and the evident love and compassion we have for each other.”

“much food for future thought”

“enjoyed the sharing and comparing and laughing”

“fondly spent time recalling well loved books and their influence”

“thought provoking and heart-warming”

“issues were presented with humour and in a most interesting and relaxed way”

“I enjoyed sharing jokes and going back down memory lane and laughing about it”

“a very enjoyable day”

“this priceless medicine is fun, free and easy to use”

“a new experience for me and certainly one to be repeated”

“good peaceful atmosphere”

“a space away from the maddening crowd and busy life to dwell in the  
  Peace of God.”

“both an entertaining and profound event”


 “fascinating discourse and advice”

“lots of new information”

“gave me more understanding of facts vaguely known and debunked some myths!”

“an interactive opportunity”

“interesting discussions”