Reflections on Aging Well

Author, Living with Purpose in a Worn-out Body: Spiritual Encouragement for Older Adults (Upper Room) and Columnist, Aging Well, United Methodist Reporter

Older adults want authenticity February 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 9:06 am

A few days ago I spoke to residents at a large retirement community. Following the event, one of the attendees asked me to sign copies of my books for him. At first glance, he seemed to be the perfect role model for active aging.  He was immaculately dressed, trim and fit, and walked with a spirit in his step. Soon though, he had grown serious as he told me about running hot water over his hands each morning to try to unlock the arthritis in his fingers.  He also talked about dealing with the loss of his wife and pesky feelings of uselessness.

It seems something I had said had struck a chord with him. He wanted me to know that he appreciated the fact that I was honest about the tough realities of aging while also bringing a message hope and encouragement.  “Most people want you to ignore the aches and pains, as if they don’t exist,” he said.  “Thank you for acknowledging the challenges we face and for helping us to move forward. It helps to know that others understand.” 

Some say that age is just mind over matter. To some degree, that’s true.  A positive attitude certainly has much to do with aging well. But I have found that most older adults are anxious for their feelings to be validated. They need to know that the hard realities that often come with aging are not simply brushed away by those who think they know what it is to grow old.

It’s just something to think about.

 

Do you have at least one friend who is 85 years old or older? February 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — missybu @ 3:00 pm

When my husband and I built a smaller home, we asked the architect to create a special nook for my Grandmother’s glass-front china cabinet which has been in the family since the late 1800’s. For years it held hand-painted china and my Mother’s depression glass collection. Now its shelves are filled with treasures from older adults who have enriched my life.

Oh sure, there are special family items– my Grandad’s shaving brush and my Grandmother’s manicure set. There’s my Mother’s jewelry box and WWII memorabilia that belonged to my Dad. But alongside the collection of family treasures, there are also letters and handmade gifts from older adults who became my friends late in their lives.  Most were either residents of the retirement community where my parents once lived or were residents of one of the assisted living centers where I visit weekly.  Each of these older persons was at least 85 years old when we first became friends. 

Among the special items, there’s a crocheted bookmark and a tissue paper Valentine, a hand-beaded Christmas tree and an original poem.  Every time I pass by the china cabinet, I am reminded of these special people and the important life lessons they taught me in the last years of their lives.

And so I have to ask. Is your life enriched by having older adult friends, not just your aging relatives? Do you have at least one friend who is 85 years old or older?  No?  May I suggest you get one? You will be blessed.