Seniors desire that retirement and aging are secure, dignified, delightful and successful. However, the Golden Years also introduce the last chapter of life’s journey. The reality is that it can be hard for those aging as well as for those who love them.
Here are some quotes of the elderly I have worked with that sum this up better than I ever could:
• “I am grateful every day I live well but grieve every day that reveals those days are dwindling.”
• “If I am angry as you help me, know I am not angry at you but angry that I need your help at all.”
• “It’s hard to read the paper and see another friend has gone…I want to share my memories of knowing them, but no one asks or seems to care.”
• “I am scared: scared that I will be a burden to my children/grandchildren, scared my spouse will leave me behind, scared for my friendships as we stop driving or start dying, scared my grandchildren will hate to come visit as I age because they’ll see old and boring rather than fun and wise, scared I will outlive my worth to those who once loved me.”
• “I’m sad, I didn’t think Mom would be so lost without Dad. She needs me, I want to be there, but I have my family too.”
So what do we do with the reality of sorrow and fear that can accompany the Golden Years?
What are some suggestions for aging well?:
Eat right, exercise and stay active, keep the mind challenged, have a positive attitude, be good stewards of finances and time.
AND I believe we are created for relationship. Thus, knowing and loving others well and being known and loved by others brings richness of life at any age! So here is an additional answer :
How to “Love Well”-
• Repair broken relationships—say “I’m sorry”, forgive someone. Don’t waste time or energy being angry or hurt by someone we can forgive or ask forgiveness of.
• Families—Call, Skype or visit often, share what is happening, encourage and affirm one another, laugh together, walk in each other’s shoes with compassion, listen well, treasure memories and moments and make new ones!
• Friendships—prioritize visiting/keeping in touch regularly with both old and new friends. Challenge yourself to get involved with peer groups in community or senior centers, travel groups, card groups, church groups, any interest or hobby for the sole purpose of relationship!
• Grieve together: Acknowledge loss, the sorrow and anger it brings and helping each other move through and adjust to it. When someone we love dies, talk about them, what did you love, what didn’t you love, what will you miss and what will you remember well. The process is the same when we lose a home, ability to drive, cognitive or physical capabilities or any other losses aging may bring. Grieving together is loving together!
Aging is a gift of time- Time to live and love the best you can, as long as you can!