“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren
Aging gracefully encompasses many aspects of life. It is hard to even think about getting older when we are young. Somehow getting older creeps up on us.
We must first accept the reality of what it means to age. One day you see someone in the mirror. Who is that person? That person is you! Someone calls you “ma’am” and you wonder, “When did I become ma’am and not miss?”
Suddenly, the print in books and magazines is too small. There’s a new wrinkle on your face. Perhaps your jowls are sagging. Then you notice that your knee hurts, your back aches or it’s getting harder to get off the floor or even a chair.
The joy we had celebrating birthdays changes into a knot in our stomachs when the big ones arrive. How surprised we are to realize we are middle aged, and it seems just a few years later we are seniors.
We were independent, there to help family and friends. Nothing was too much for us. We now struggle with the reality of not wanting to admit that we are the ones who need help; our independence is eroding.
The possibility of needing home help, assisted living or a nursing home creeps into our minds. The family dynamics and roles get reversed with the shocking realization our children and even grandchildren become our parents.
Our elusive memory becomes worrisome. Most of us will have occasional “senior moments.” We anxiously research the internet to find out what is “normal aging” and not Alzheimer’s.
We find the world around us is changing, things are not “as they used to be.” Technology advances too quickly and we often turn to the younger generations to guide us through this ever-evolving venue. Simply making a call or text on a cell phone can be a challenge and a frustration.
However, on the positive side the days are ours. We can often do what we want. Though aging is inevitable for most of us, it can also make life richer with all the resources we have today.
Senior centers have a multitude of programs – from cultural activities to physical fitness classes. There are many opportunities to take a variety of classes and try new skills like taking piano, painting, drawing, trying to learn a new language or how to knit. Discounts are available on many goods and services.
If we have the means, we can fix up the house, take trips or go on cruises without having as many obligations or worries. Now is the time to pamper ourselves without the guilt.
When the weather is bad, we can stay home. On a beautiful day we can go for a walk, meet a friend for lunch or take a day trip. We are able to use our time volunteering in an area of interest. The options are never-ending.
There’s a lot to be said about getting older in the 21st century. What’s the expression – 80 is the new 70? We look and act younger than our parents and grandparents did at our age. To those of us who were fortunate enough to have grandmothers, they appeared so different from us.
They wore granny” shoes with clunky heels; they wore stockings. Their bodies seemed more restricted and their clothing more formal. The styles were very different. Today our bodies seem more at ease, and we seniors dress like everyone else. Almost anything goes – brighter colors and stylish comfortable shoes are acceptable.
We are more attuned to health and wellness than past generations. As a result, we are living longer and many of us are blessed with that extra time in good health.
Age isn’t a big deal any more within your social group. Being friends with someone who is 90 when you are 65 is easy. You have a lot in common and much to learn from each other.
For young people “old” means to be an adult, and we senior citizens often wish we could be young again while retaining our current knowledge and experience. We can offer the wisdom and wonder of life. Our stories can enrich young lives.
Hope, wisdom, guidance, love, experience: whether it is to children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends or students what we have to offer is needed and appreciated. That makes aging gracefully and gratefully meaningful.
Getting older ain’t so bad, folks!