Judson Haims: Like a good bourbon or wine, aging is a good thing
Special to The Aspen Times
Chances are if you are not yet comfortable with who you are, you may not be old enough. Sometimes, with age comes the discovery of knowing who you are and what truly makes you happy and content.
Getting old is not all bad.
Aging does not need to be fought off and it does not have to threaten our self-worth. While American society at large may be consumed with being young and pretty, there is a comfort that comes with age. Ask most anyone if they would go back in time and relive their junior high and high school years, and you may find that most will say “no.” Aging gives many people time to become comfortable with who they are and understand their purpose in life.
Do we really want scientists messing with the natural order of life? All life has a beginning, middle and end. From the planets and stars within the solar system to the smallest living organism, everything comes to an end at some point. The journey is exciting and should be reveled.
In many parts of the world, the elderly are revered and society views them as a source of power and wisdom. In these societies, aging is equated with respect and becoming better. Some cultures believe a long life is considered a reward for righteous living. I believe that our elders should be venerated, treated with deference and respect. The knowledge and guidance our elders possess is significant to the survival of communities and our world.
Unfortunately, within the American culture, there lies a fear of death and thus, in some respect, a fear of aging. We are all going to get older. So, are you going to enjoy it and even look forward to the process?
An important key to enjoying aging is making sure that you continue to work toward having new experiences, goals and doing something you love.
No matter how many times life carries you around the sun, stay young at heart and curious about — everything. Share your stories and life lessons with someone else. While (currently) you may not be able to control the aging process, you don’t have to be “old.” Stay healthy, and be young at heart and mind.
Health is a multi-faceted concept that includes physical and mental aspects. While you can’t always control your physical and mental health, you can often control your perspective and how you adapt to your changing circumstances.
Our thoughts and emotions have the ability to create tangible changes to our bodies. If you have experienced chronic ill health and disability, you may have to make adjustments to your way of life. There is nothing wrong about reaching out to others to help with your personal needs. Being conscious of what you can and cannot do, and knowing your limitations, still leaves a way for gaining focus on those things you can do. A renewed sense of purpose and meaning in life lies around the corner.
My grandmother lived a good life well into her 90s. While there were times of stress, sadness and ill health, she was the consummate optimist. She always kept busy. When time and physical abilities allowed, she engaged in the activities she enjoyed. As her capabilities diminished, she adjusted and found new meaning in activities she had not before considered. In her kitchen, hung on a wall, was a saying she held dear. It now hangs in my kitchen and I am reminded of her optimism and fortitude every time I read it:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Our psychological attitude toward life may determine the quality and duration of our latter years. Since how we age has so much to do with our attitudes and beliefs, such a shift in perspective could make a world of difference.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for our elderly and is available to answer questions. He can be reached at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.
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