Thoughts and such like.....
Gerascophia is the fear of growing old or old age. Recently I have read and listened to a lot of negative conversations about aging, always negative thoughts of what is to come and just negativity about aging in general. I find I often get annoyed at people blaming their memory on 'old age', or stating, 'I'm too old to do that' without thought about whether they actually could, rather just making the assumption that it's not possible!
What is it about aging that makes people feel negative, fear the future, resigned to the frame of mind that from here on there will be slow degeneration of mind and body, and that the best of life is behind us? What is it that pushes us to pull out those grey hairs, try to hide the wrinkles and associate the word old with 'ugly'? Me, I often think that some of the most beautiful people are the elderly - I love the faces of older people, I associate their lines and wrinkles with experience and a life well lived. Women (me too), are often taken in with the advertising that tells us we can look younger, or recapture our youthful looks through using this potion or this powder! We forget you can't go back, however you can go forward and you have a choice of how that forward journey will go.
We often look at those who are in residential care as the poster people for old age, and yet in 2016, only 6.8% of Canadians age 65 and older were living in care, this did jump to 30% for those 85 and older, but 6.8% - why do we worry so much... What if we were shown advertisements of older people embracing their age and the changes it brings - like wisdom and the ability to do what we please without having to consider the impact it has on our children and family. What if we embrace our wrinkles as part of our success in survival! One article I read said that with old age comes the probability of sickness and various chronic illness, hum what? Living at any age comes with the probability of sickness and chronic disease, maybe we should ask how we live can reduce that probability, at any age!
If we look at ourselves at a certain age and find that perhaps we hadn't realized the contribution or level of prosperity that we had hoped for when we were younger, we can sit and feel disappointed and let that disappointment direct the rest of our life, or we can accept that we aren't where we hoped we would be, and think about what next. What do we want for the next 20 or 30 years we have left to us? We can wallow in a pity party and become the grumpy old person, or we can accept that which we can't change and move forward.
As we grow older, there are things that we can't avoid. There are often more people we know who die, others do get sick and need 24/7 support, but there are also things we can do to try and live as healthy a life as we can, we can invest in ourselves! Perhaps the most healthy change we can make is about the way we view growing older - really we can't do anything about it, everyone is doing it! What does worrying about aging bring us? Certainly worrying is not going to make us any younger, rather it eats up time and can actually make us sick. So what can we do:
Growing older isn't something to be afraid of, rather it's a time to embrace life. Many older people claim that as they age they become more of who they are, or were meant to be. Growing older doesn't mean that we should lose our appetite for life, rather we should look at it as a time to grow more passionate, to celebrate who we are and to care less about what others think of us. We can chose who we want to spend time with, rather than trying to fit in with people we feel we 'should' spend time with.
Growing older allows us the opportunity to continue our learning, something I'm passionate about, and don't believe what they say about being too old to learn a new skill - in this piece David Robson disproves the theory that an older brain simply cannot absorb the same information as a young child!
Don’t allow our cultural perspective of old age to hold you back so that you wake up one day with regret of having missed out on life. Don’t allow fear to rule you. Rather look at what brings you joy, look at each day as a gift and take pleasure in the little things - make a difference in your world and let fear go. If you do so, you will also probably avoid one of the key things that affect many of our elders today - loneliness. All of us need a sense of purpose, of belonging. So:
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Maeve O'Byrne's Blog