I work with seniors all day long. They look at me and say “you’re so young, why are you worried about aging; I think, why wouldn’t I worry? I am in midlife or even past midlife and what is going to happen as I age. But isn’t 50 the new 40 and 40 the new 30…etc..? So how do I age successfully, with grace, elegance ease and fun, like they are aging?
Many of the people I work with and know are so impressive. Some 80 and 90 something year olds are working still and very involved in community services. Visiting with their kids and grandkids and great grandkids and their friends including new friends! They travel and are interested in culture, museum and new foods to name a few. I have a few friends that inspire me in their 80s and 90s. I had lunch with two of my senior friends just a few days ago and I feel like I am talking to my own generation X people. We talk about all kinds of topics and laugh and joke and eat. It is interactive and a dynamic conversation. They look great. Yes they look older but they look wonderful! They even have wrinkles and they look healthy and good for their age! (Boy do I hate it when people tell me that, but isn’t that what we should look…good for our age?)
Why am I so impressed? It is not because she is beautiful and has an adorable hair cut or does her nails or even wears a cute outfit, or he handsome, wears a cool hat and is tall and thin? They are 30 to 40 years older than me they are interesting and fun and they are staying connected. They are contributing to society and helping others. They are aware of the world around them and current events. They are happy and involved and again connected to others. The seniors I enjoy are the seniors that are not home bored and lonely with nothing to say or even listen to others. They get out, even if they have trouble walking.
My word here is connected. To be connected to someone or groups of people in an organization is what I see as a theme for successfully aging! How do you stay connected then? There are many attributes to being connected and not isolating oneself. An obvious attribute to me (as an audiologist) is keep hearing! (Obviously staying healthy and feeling good.) It is hard to be connected if you can-not hear people. Even the research shows that if you cannot hear you tend to pull away from people and organizations and events. Pulling away is the opposite of staying connected.
For people who are being affected by memory issues (dementia or Alzheimer’s) they more than anyone need to keep hearing as people with memory issues are more likely to begin pulling away. Let us try and keep them connected as best we can. Find what interests them and keep them involved. Let us make sure they can hear as there is a correlation with dementia and hearing loss. And there is a connection between isolating and hearing loss.
Will I do my nails as I age and get cute hair-cuts, use lotions to help my wrinkles.. yep you bet! But I won’t worry too much as I look in the mirror at my aging self. I will wait for people to tell me I look good for my age and most importantly, I will continue to stay connected and help the community around me. I will continue to support my children and their lives as they grow and of course I will keep hearing!