Have you ever heard the phrase, “Old age is not for sissies”? Fewer clichés could be any truer. All of us have had the experience of watching others age. Some people in our lives seemed old from the beginning: our grandparents and great-grandparents for example (if we are lucky enough to have them when we are children). There is the universal perception: “I will never be that old.”
Whether we associate age with wisdom, kindness, generosity, infirmity, crabbiness, illness, disability, loneliness, wonderful friends, church involvement, time for travel, celebrating the holidays or other things, we have all known and been around older people. Their lives and circumstances have shaped our expectations of how older age might be for us—if we finally come to believe we will ever get that old!
Some questions to consider:
1) What impressions of aging did you get from the older people in and around your own life over the years?
2) What expectations did you develop (or are you developing) about your own experience of aging and how your older years will be?
3) Do you have any real positive or outstanding role models of what it can be like to age at our best? Who is your inspiration?
4) Is the age you feel inside different from the age you see when you look in the mirror?
5) How can we deal gracefully with the unwanted aspects of getting older and being seen as older by others?
6) Finally, why is it that all the people around us seem to keep getting younger? What’s the deal with that?
(A sense of humor always helps).
We don’t have to pretend that aging isn’t difficult and painful at times, but aging can also be liberating in some ways and still bring us wonderful life experiences.