The notion of growing old has for many been visions of hopelessness, neglect and despair. And if you add to these the perceptions of inadequacy, lack of energy, social withdrawal, difficulty concentrating, and problems with memory, the realization that we are growing old can be traumatic. At no stage in life is it ever smooth sailing, every stage has its bumps and bruises. Our ideas and attitudes towards aging are very important in how well we cope with and enjoy the passing years. As I look forward to the later stage of my life I am now more aware of the physical, social and psychological problems of aging.
Despite the fact that I might not be able to smell the roses, have less taste, have fingers that can’t make a fist because arthritis is preventing it, have eyes that don’t see clearly; glasses can help, ears that don’t hear so high; hearing aid won’t help, I see the last phase of my life as the most emotionally momentous stage of life. As an accomplished community social worker I would have foster a trend among many to participate in family and community activities. “There goes social isolation! ” My life would be an example of love, faith, and perseverance. My condolences to the family of depression. ” You might ask, where’s the vacations on the white sand beaches with a pina colada in hand? Where’s the frolicking in the clear blue water? Well, that would be a regular occurrence in my whole life, for my many outreach missions will allot me the chance to see many worlds and appreciate the beauty of nature and life. Getting old doesn’t have to mean you give up on living. At the later stage of your life you have grown into an experience, one that will be a teacher to many.
Just like we plan for so many things in our younger years, we should now deliberately plan for the later years. Cherish your health. If it’s good preserve it. If it’s unstable improve it. If it’s beyond what you can improve, get help! Make physical activity a habit. Love hard, tell the people you love that you love them at every opportunity. Our family, friends, neighbors, and church family help to enrich our lives immeasurably by sharing their love as well. Keep only cheerful friends, the grouches will pull you down.
Keep learning; never let your brain idle. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s. Practice relaxation by laughing hard, long and loud. Aging can be difficult at times, we all go through it. Always remember that though our physical appearance changes, our spirit does not. It all comes down to our outlook on life. We are never too old to realize a new goal, to dream, or accomplish great things. As my friend Abraham Lincoln would say, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. ”