What does it mean to grow older? How do we all handle the challenges that will face us? All of us human beings will either grow old or we will die at a younger age. Yet, we rarely talk about what this means to us individually and collectively. The body starts to slow down and refuses to move in the way it used to move when we were younger. We don’t have the same energy and ability to keep going as we once did.
There are benefits and challenges to aging.
We know there are benefits to this process, but because the body no longer looks or acts as it once did, we have a difficult time acknowledging this slow down.
In other societies, seniors are given a status that our society fails to give. Our worth is tied up with our productivity. So when we retire, our value goes down. Males seem to suffer more from this change than females. Perhaps this is no longer true. In the past males were the breadwinnders. They have been valued as the ones who earn more money. This has been changing as families are changing and there are more women at the head of their families. But women have also traditionally been more available for friendships and creating communities that are satisfying on an emotional level.
So what do we need to do, in order to not only survive but thrive? I feel it is important to start facing the challenges of aging way before we reach our 80’s. We need to make decisions to be more connected with family, friends, community, a religious or spiritual practice and we need to keep moving our bodies and using our minds. If we are open and hones, and we make plans we we are still healthy, then even though we might have some difficulties awaiting us, we will be more prepared. Hopefully this will increase our enjoyment of our daily lives.
As we age, we are more able to be ourselves, to accept our strengths and weaknesses. Accept what we have accomplished and understand that we might never do all that we had hope to do and that is okay!