Welcome to the “Teach Me How to Age” educational series. We derived these blog posts from a series of lectures presented at several senior residential communities near Louisville, Colorado during the summer of 2018. In these posts, we examine the conundrums and challenges associated with aging; more specifically, aging successfully with intent and purpose; and learning how to navigate the sometimes tricky and confounding situations that aging presents. I bring my experience as both a caregiver and research scientist to understand the physical and emotional challenges that aging presents and aim to provide perspectives, opportunities, and real-world techniques to successfully navigate these sometimes unsettled waters!
Change is the Status Quo. Learn to Manage It!
“Does anyone ever teach us how to age?” a wise woman once asked me. “No one taught me how to age; I’m not quite sure how to do it…” How do we answer her? The reality is that aging is a process of continual evolution. There’s no denying it – our opportunity relies on engaging and managing the changes and associated reactions that accompany it. People generally experience several emotions in response to these changes including avoidance, denial, and surprise. When we are in denial, we refuse to acknowledge that our world is changing. We may feel “out of control.” For example, we may not have the power to control the physical changes that come with aging; and human nature says that if we avoid it, change won’t happen. Unavoidably, when it does, we may be surprised and unprepared. Sometimes we don’t like change as it may come with emotional chaos and the feelings that surround it.
One of our first reactions is anger! Frequently, we’re angry that we can’t do the things that we used to do. Fear! Fear of the future. What will the future bring? Will I be well? Will I be ill? Will I be able to do the things that I love to do? Loss! Nothing will ever be the same. We like things to remain the same, but truthfully, nothing will, and this may lead to pessimism. There’s no hope because things will continually shift under us! The good news is that there are things you can do to manage the changes that come with aging. In the next entry in our series, we talk about taking an active role in your aging process all the while developing deep resilience and emotional well-being!