Haims: Changing the mindset of aging
Chances are if you are not yet comfortable with who you are, you may need some time. Sometimes, with age comes the discovery of knowing who you are and what truly makes you happy, content and fulfilled. Getting “old” is not bad — the psychology of aging is.
Aging does not need to be fought off, and it does not have to threaten our self-worth. While much of our American society may be consumed with being young and pretty, there is a comfort that comes with age. Ask most anyone if they would go back in time and relive their junior high and high school years, and you may find that most will say no.
Do we really want scientists messing with the natural order of life? All life has a beginning, middle and end. From the planets and stars within the solar system to the smallest living organism, everything comes to an end at some point. The journey is exciting and should be appreciated, enjoyed and rejoiced.
In many parts of the world, the elderly are revered, and society views them as a source of power and wisdom. In these societies, aging is equated with respect and becoming better. Some cultures believe a long life is considered a reward for righteous living. I believe that our elders should be venerated and treated with deference and respect. The knowledge and guidance our elders possess is significant to the survival of our communities and our world.
Aging can be exciting
Unfortunately, within the American culture, there lies a fear of death and thus, in some respect, a fear of aging. We are all going to get older. So are you going to enjoy it and even look forward to the process? An important key to enjoying aging is making sure that you continue to work towards having new experiences and goals and doing something you love.
No matter how many times life carries you around the sun, stay young at heart and curious about — everything. Share your stories and life lessons with someone else. While (currently) we may not be able to control the aging process, we don’t have to be “old.” We all can strive to be healthy, young at heart and young at mind. Health is a multi-faceted concept that includes both physical and mental aspects. We can’t always control our physical and mental health; however, we can often control our perspective and how we adapt to our changing circumstances.
Our thoughts and emotions have the ability to create tangible changes to our bodies. If you have experienced chronic ill health and disability, you may have to make adjustments to your way of life. Illness and disability are not age specific. Young people, too, are also sometimes afflicted with health issues including autoimmune disease, cerebral palsy and other physical and cognitive disabilities. Regardless of age, we can all adjust to such challenges and ultimately live the best quality of life possible.
There is nothing wrong about reaching out to others to help with your personal needs. Being conscious of what you can and cannot do, and knowing your limitations, still leaves way for gaining focus on those things you can do. A renewed sense of purpose and meaning of life lies around the corner.
My grandmother lived a good life well into her 90s. While there were times of stress, sadness and ill health, she was the consummate optimist. She always kept busy. When time and physical abilities allowed, she engaged in the activities she enjoyed. As her capabilities diminished, she adjusted and found new meaning in activities she had not before considered. In her kitchen, hung on a wall, was a saying she held dear. It now hangs in my kitchen and my family and I are reminded of her optimism and fortitude every time we read it:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Our psychological attitude towards life may determine the quality and duration of our latter years. Since how we age has so much to do with our attitudes and beliefs, such a shift in perspective could make a world of difference.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. He is an advocate for our elderly and available to answer questions. His contact information is VisitingAngels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.