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Essentials for Graceful Aging: Embracing Change

Graceful aging certainly involves change—which is something many would rather avoid.

That seems to be especially true as we get older and feel less able to adapt.

On the other hand, there are many who love to try something new and look forward to whatever the next adventure ahead may be.

Regardless of the camp you call home, we can all be sure that change is always around the corner in one form or another.

No matter our ages, we’re continually entering new seasons of our lives that offer both blessings and challenges we haven’t encountered in the past.

I bet you’re familiar the lyrics of the famous “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds—largely taken from Solomon’s wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3:1—

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.

The NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

For those who consider aging to be part of their current realities, change can be a particularly anxiety-producing prospect.

When we’re younger, we usually feel better able to adjust as needed when circumstances change.

If I don’t have enough money, I’ll make more.

If I have a health issue, I’ll get better.

If I need to move, I’ll start packing today.

But as we grow older, such agile living can be a little more of a challenge.

Aging as a continuum

I’m finding that to be true in my own life. As I write this, I’m 57 years old, and my husband is the same age.

Dave and I enjoyed our recent trip to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park.

Though we’re both very active and take care of ourselves, we’ve noticed slight changes creeping up on us over the past several years.

More aches and pains.

More need to rest.

A better understanding and acceptance of some of our limitations.

I can’t stay up all night like I used to when I worked the night shift—and my husband has agreed not to climb trees anymore to trim those branches that long for attention.

My mom and dad used to say, “After fifty, it’s patch, patch, patch.”

Some days I think they were right.

Now, if you’re reading this and you’re decades ahead of us, likely you’re smiling and shaking your head.

Yes, we’re still quite young in the context of some generations.

And age is certainly a state of mind.

I know people in their 80’s who live much younger lives than some I’ve met who could be their grandchildren.

Embracing the benefits of aging

My point is that aging is a continuum, and we’re all experiencing it to some degree.

That’s why it’s never too early to begin preparing for the changes that may be ahead—so you’ll be better able to embrace them gracefully when they occur.

By identifying and addressing your essential needs, you’ll be better able to do that.

The good news is that Boomers may have a leg up on younger generations when it comes to change.

Although aging may create challenges, research shows that it also brings many benefits along the way.

Maturity and wisdom are key to effectively embracing the changes encountered during the later seasons of life—and seniors are uniquely equipped.

In a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry entitled “Older Adults’ Perspectives on Successful Aging: Qualitative Interviews,” the authors concluded that,

Older adults viewed successful aging as a balance between self-acceptance and self-contentedness on one hand and engagement with life and self-growth in later life on the other. This perspective supports the concept of wisdom as a major contributor to successful aging.

Reichstadt, J., Sengupta, G., Depp, C., Palinkas, L., & Jeste, D. (2010). Older Adults’ Perspectives on Successful Aging: Qualitative Interviews. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181e040bb

In addition, a study published in the Journal of Aging Research suggested that seniors are more satisfied with their lives than younger people—largely due to less negative thinking. 

According to a summary of the study published in Science Daily:

Research suggests differences in the way age groups think can influence the onset of depression. Sufferers of negative thinking, or brooding, tend to fixate on their problems and feelings without taking action, which can intensify depressive moods and lead to the onset of depression. 

Université du Luxembourg. (2012, February 13). Seniors show greater life satisfaction than young people, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120213084204.htm

Of those surveyed, individuals aged 63 and older reported “less brooding” compared to younger participants.

Mom and Dad loved what Jesus said

In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus provided some very clear encouragement that applies to aging gracefully:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.

The NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

This assurance can certainly be applied to any season of life.

However, the fact that I have three Bibles that belonged to my parents with it highlighted—two of my mom’s and one of my dad’s—provides clear evidence of the comfort this passage brought to them as they moved through their later years.

Although they’re both with Jesus now, they’re still here with us—continuing to teach and guide through all they’ve given me throughout their lives.

Mom and Dad were a powerful example of graceful aging.

Our journey together

Like you, I’ve had many changes throughout the various seasons of my life.

My parents did, too.

It was a blessing and a privilege to be my mom’s caregiver in the final season of her life and to be able to help my dad adjust as he grew older and dealt with the challenges of pulmonary fibrosis.

I was also privileged to care for many seniors during my years as a nurse in both the intensive care unit and hospice—where I cared for patients in both their homes and the hospice house.

I understand that aging is hard work.

But together, we’re going to learn how to embrace aging more gracefully so we can both enjoy the journey ahead.

This post is one of several that make up an edition of my Graceful Aging series offerings.

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