The Unexpected Advantages of Aging for the Mind, Body, and Soul
When we discuss the topic of aging, society often points out the negative aspects, forgetting to mention the many positive aspects of growing old. Due to stereotypes and outdated information, we often fear aging instead of seeing the advantages and opportunities for seniors in our society today. Two major advantages of aging that we tend to miss are the luxury of free time and how far elder has come in recent decades.
The Luxury of Time
When I was a child my grandmother had a bumper sticker that said, “I’m a Vermonta I Do What I Wanta”. While this may seem irrelevant, she explained to me that she had this sticker not because she was from Vermont, but because it expressed her joy in being able to do whatever she wanted in her senior years. This fact is very relevant, and for her, was the best thing about growing old.
The increased free time presented to those in their later years opens the door to a world of new possibilities. There is now time to pursue new activities you always wanted to try, time to have more meaningful interactions with those you care about, and time to explore your creativity. At Bross Street, we make it a priority to offer a wide range of opportunities for our residents to explore new activities within the vibrant community here in Longmont. Whether it’s learning a new skill, picking up a new hobby, or participating in a social event, we encourage our residents to take advantage of their newfound free time.
Having experienced a life full of rushing around with a million things constantly on their mind, the freedom to stop and take a breath allows seniors to appreciate moments rather than hurry through them. As a result, they experience greater quality time than ever before, and grow a deeper appreciation of how best to utilize the time that remains. Taking time to relax and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of nature fosters a deeper esteem for quiet and helps quell the incessant chatter of the mind.
In conjunction with this shift in appreciation is a decrease in regard for societal norms. The fear of judgement or pressure to, “keep up with the Joneses” no longer exists and is replaced by the refreshing ability to say or do things that they never would have in the past.
Cornell sociologist Karl Pillemer and co-workers interviewed about 1,200 older people for the book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. “Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned to enjoy life on a daily basis and enjoy the moment when I was in my 30s instead of my 60s,’” he says. Elderly interviewees are likely to “describe the last five or ten years as the happiest years of their lives.”
Superior Advances in Senior Care Services
Before the 20th century, aging was met with a dismal outlook. Growing older meant uncertainty for any individual who was not independently wealthy or didn’t have children willing and able to care for them. Seniors without the means to support themselves were forced to move into what was referred to as “poorhouses” or “workhouses” where they were left to live out there final years like animals in a shelter.
Today, safety-net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security mean that American seniors have a guaranteed minimum income and health insurance, relieving financial stress in their later years. In addition, seniors now have multiple types of elder care facilities to choose from, including Independent senior living communities, assisted living communities, residential care homes, and nursing homes, each offering different levels of services based on the needs and desires of their residents.
Furthermore, advances in medicine and technology have drastically changed the way we age. From walk-in baths, to healthcare wearables, to real time communication devices, aging in place has become the norm. “Technology holds great promise to make life better for the elderly, enabling them to retain their independence and live full lives for longer. Equally important, it can lend a helping hand to those who care for them and provide peace of mind. And it should be good for health and care funders because it helps prevent expensive spells in hospitals.” - The Economist Special Report, July 8, 2017.
The Power of the Pro-Aging Mindset
As we shift our focus of aging toward the positives, the benefits are astounding. “The way you perceive aging can actually influence how you age. Aging, like many aspects of life, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Positive and negative attitudes can affect your health behaviorally, psychologically, and even biologically. Being ‘pro-aging,’ or satisfied with your own aging, can make you adopt healthier behaviors, feel in control of how you age, and even heighten your immune system. Being ‘anti-aging,’ or perceiving aging negatively, can do the opposite.” - CNN Health.
Let’s celebrate aging for what it truly is: the beautiful, natural, opportunity for a new and exciting chapter; and help to rewrite the paradigm for generations to come. Bross Street Assisted Living embraces the benefits of aging by fostering friendships and mobility in our assisted living home. Learn more about who are and what we do.