Many historical and more traditional societies cherish the wisdom of older adults. However, we live in a youth-focused culture. And the elderly are sometimes thought of as costly consumers of resources with little to offer in return. Often, we give them little respect for the wealth of wisdom they possess. Yet regardless of aging and all that comes along with it, it’s possible to maintain purpose and meaning while getting older.
The New York Times explains that you can accomplish so much while getting older. Not in spite of aging, but because of aging. Redefining society’s views on aging takes time. We may lose abilities to do things we once loved. Maybe we can’t hike, bike, ski, or ice skate anymore. But there are always things we can still do as we are getting older. Walking, swimming, and exploring with a pet can be doable. And while staying physically active is important, that’s not all that matters. Family and friend relationships, creativity and other hobbies, and overall mindset are just as important.
Dr. Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist, wrote a book about views on old age called The End of Old Age. In it, he states it’s all about how you frame what you have. Despite disease and mental and physical declines, aging can still have positive aspects. He even cites the term “positive aging”. This refers to a state of mind that’s positive and optimistic. Additionally, positive aging involves adapting flexibly to life’s changes.
Although it’s at times frustrating, don’t become depressed based on things you no longer can do. Tap into your past passions and strengths for inspiration and ideas. Take what you loved doing and extend it into something doable for you now. Or you can try something completely new that takes your passions in a new direction. Focus not on what aging is, but what it could be.