At times aging seems like an Olympic sport. Successfully maneuvering through this time of life depends on a certain amount of preparation, perseverance and endurance. It can be a Herculean effort that requires not a little confidence.
“Perhaps two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived to the age of 65 are alive today.” Peter Peterson’s, Gray Dawn, points out some sobering statistics about the aging of the world’s population and its impact on society. It’s unchartered territory.
And that’s what makes preparing for the “golden years” such a challenge. This many people living this long is a relatively recent phenomenon. Never have so many faced this situation. And it is creating a lot of angst for individuals and planners.
At times, old age seems like an Olympic sport. Successfully maneuvering through this relatively new demographic depends on a certain amount of preparation, perseverance and endurance. It can be a Herculean effort that requires not a little confidence.
“Perhaps two-thirds of all the people who have ever lived to the age of 65 are alive today.”
Peter Peterson’s “Gray Dawn” points out some sobering statistics about the aging of the world’s population and its impact on society. It’s unchartered territory.
And that’s what makes preparing for our “golden years” such a challenge. This many people living this long is a relatively recent phenomenon. Never have so many faced this situation. And it is creating a lot of angst for individuals and planners.
Yep, another ‘significant’ birthday has come and gone. AARP has extended membership benefits to me for… well, some time now. And while I could be considered chronologically enhanced, I don’t consider age to be the topmost descriptor of my individuality. No way!
Age is a perception thing. The sooner we drop the stubborn views of aging from our constant contemplation, the better for our health. I am thinking of deleterious assessments like mental weakness, physical feebleness, illness – and the anxieties they all perpetuate. Must aging be repeatedly linked with these complaints?
“Perception by the five personal senses is mental,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “and dependent on the beliefs that mortals entertain.” Believing that age must come with significant drawbacks only perpetuates those shortcomings. I guess you could say, you are what you believe. Read more…
“I am only grouchy and moody on days that end in Y.”
My family and I were walking the sidewalks of the Big Apple eons ago when without warning…bam! A woman smacked right into me, startling us both. Before I could get out an apology, she blurted out in a foul tone, “Watch where you’re walking, child!” I stopped myself before the words could form, “Geez, what a grouch!”
She was a character, and even decades later I can vividly remember her cantankerous demeanor. Her comment was unexpected and seemed so hurtful to the child I was then.
As I’ve aged I’ve tried to become an adult who is upbeat, no matter how difficult the day. But, there are those times when it seems I, like many of us, just can’t control my disposition.
What kind of mood are you in today? It seems a common – almost rote – question. But, it turns out that the answer to that question is very important. Maintaining a positive attitude influences longevity and boosts brain power in older adults. And an individual’s spirituality plays a big role in resiliency in later life too. Separate studies confirm these findings.
One study of 660 Ohioans over 50 found people with more positive attitudes about aging lived an average 7.5 years longer than those with more negative outlooks. That is significant. In fact according to the researchers a positive mood about aging has greater impact on longevity than any one of the following:
Lowered blood pressure
As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, authors of the study offer two conclusions. One “is that negative self-perceptions can diminish life expectancy.” The other “is that positive self-perception can prolong life expectancy.”
A good attitude does not stop there. A new study supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and appearing in the journalCognition and Emotion, connects the power of positive mood with aiding older people in decision making and working memory. And this is important since maintaining their independence – the most important thing to most elderly – is heavily dependent on being able to remember what they need to do and to make sound decisions.
According to Ellen Peters, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, “Given the current concern about cognitive declines in the aged, our findings are important for showing how simple methods to improve mood can help improve cognitive functioning and decision performance in older adults, just like they do in younger people.”
You have to wonder, with research results like these, just how much influence one wields over his/her own health and wellness. Thoughts, emotions, outlook are all shown to impact physical and mental health. And control over these factors lies within each of us.
Keeping thoughts and emotions in check and maintaining a bright outlook has long been the purview of religiosity, faith, and spirituality. Turning to God has been a natural inclination for generations of believers when dealing with life’s trials, not only for coping purposes, but also for healing these issues. The concept/principle underneath “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee” – i.e. calm thought focused on the divine results in good – is health enhancing whether it comes from the Bible or some other sacred text.
Now a research report out of Duke University supports what many of us have long known: the potential for spirituality in contributing to resiliency in life, especially in dealing with changes connected to aging.
Women from the age of 82 to 94 were interviewed for the study. “Enduring hardship, challenge, and adversity while using their spirituality as a framework for making meaning and processing allowed them not only to cope with challenge, but also to bounce back in a manner that resulted in positive development, growth, and positive transformation,” concludes Lydia Manning from the Duke Center for Aging who conducted the project.
All in all, these studies and other research indicate mechanisms available to us 24/7 in the quest for wellness and contentedness. What we think and how we act are things we can control. When the daily grind or clashes with others puts us out of sorts we can stop rehearsing the negative impulses and concentrate on the good in our lives. It’s doable and life enhancing. Smile. It’s better than being a grouch any day of the week.
Birthdays…we’re having more of them than ever in the history of mankind. The number of candles on our birthday cakes is swelling. And there is a growing concern that as we age, we might not be healthy enough to blow them all out. That is a depressing thought.
A demographic tsunami is coming. 7000 Baby Boomers will hit 65 just today. Worldwide, the population of those people over 60 has more than doubled since 1980. By 2050, expect over 2 billion. The implications to health and health care are staggering.
These are all good reasons to think about aging issues in September – Healthy Aging Month. Organizers of the observance call it “a time to reinvent yourself”. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Many look back to their salad days as the ideal model when they were at their peak of ability and stamina. Who doesn’t want to try to recapture youth with its promise of vitality and mental acuity?