In our Western societies the subject of aging is often taboo triggering anxiety and shame.
Aging scares us ! With over 40 million Americans over the age of 65, and the fastest growing segment of the population being over 80 years old it is important to combat the stereotype that aging is solely a process of progressive decline.
I just finished reading the book “The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting: Ageing without growing old” from French psychologist Marie de Hennezel. I was touched by the stories she shared about people reaching very old age, especially the interviews of Sister Emmanuelle who died at age 99 in 1998 and French resistance fighter Stéphane Hessel, who died on February 26, 2013 at 95. Our society sends a disastrous image of old age and in her book, Marie de Hennezel explains the elements of the true “art of aging”.
We all age, but we can choose not to become ‘ old ’
Aging does not condemn us to loneliness, suffering, deprivation and dependence. In her book Marie de Hennezel uses her experience as clinical psychologist and her encounters with “old beautiful” persons to show us how to find joy as we get older. With our ability to love and desire with our “heart”, we can overcome our fears and support us in the midst of the worst events of the age.
It is also interesting to note that the concept of aging and stereotypes vary across cultures: According to a recent study perceptions of aging influence societal behaviors and expectations towards older people and coping with the aging process.
Successful Aging is a concept that revolves around maintaining mental and physical health, as well as social interaction. Optimism and resiliency are two qualities that can help older adults remain happy and healthy as they age. A growing body of evidence suggests that positive thinking does correlate with less illness and longer lives. Most experts say the keys to successful aging include accepting changes and finding meaningful activities.
Conclusion: My intention with this article is to make you think about the latest years of your life, not as a fatality, but as something you can prepare by choosing to get peace with your past, live in the moment and plan purposeful activities before you retire. Getting old should give you the opportunity to live your true passions.
- The Art of Aging Gracefully
- What the Film “Amour” Tells Us About Aging and Caregiving
- The best years of your life: The wisdom of embracing your ‘golden’ age
- Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Grief and Loss