Anti aging guide

How to deal successfully with aging?



Aging, a dynamic development phase in the life cycle.

It is difficult to speak about “the elderly” as one group, not only because of the great diversity among people at every point in the older age spectrum but also because the age span is long. Infancy, early childhood, adolescence, young adulthood: each is a period of several years to two decades. Old age, extending from 65 or 75 years of age to 100 or 105 years, is almost half a lifetime. People at the earlier end of the range, from 60 to 70, sometimes referred to as “young old,” are generally different as a group from the “old old,” those from 75 to 85 years, and even more different from those at the later end, at 85 years or more, the oldest old. Those people who live into their 90s to over 100 have some special characteristics, biologically and psycho-socially, that we are just beginning to study and do not yet fully understand.

Most older adults are highly functional in most respects, despite having to cope with some symptoms of chronic illness. But attempts to fit older adults into stereotypes abound, and those stereotypes often conspire to permit us to see aging as an entirely negative process in which aging people (all of us) are or will be enfeebled, hopeless, and helpless, or at least tending in that direction. Pejorative terms about being old, frail, and senile are commonly associated with people who are over 65 or 75 years, and, without cause, they are frequently treated as children and as though they are deaf, mentally disturbed, or demented. The vast majority of older adults actually have none of these characteristics. Two vignettes are pertinent.

There is a danger that people at some arbitrary time will declare themselves “old.” If their point is to be more aware to take better care of themselves, to ensure proper nutrition, to exercise regularly, to take medications properly, and to keep up with interests, activities, and relationships because aging may involve some added vulnerabilities, then it is all for the good. Unfortunately, most people who declare themselves “old” are marking the end of an era, the time in which they had been vital. This declaration that life is over or is, at least, drastically changed is dangerous because of the pessimism inherent in it. It affects the way in which we view ourselves, the expectations we have of life, our relationships, activities, interests, and plans. It negatively affects our self esteem. We might not take as good care of ourselves in various ways and might develop a sense of resignation and even doom. There is no point at which we are suddenly “old”; for better and for worse, we are constantly getting older – and possibly wiser. If we declare ourselves “old,” we may not have the advantages of either.

You don’t just fall off a cliff at age 65. Life goes on; there are difficult times to be managed and happier times that should be savored. Aging is, in fact, a dynamic developmental phase in the life cycle. People, relationships, ideas, environments continue to change, for better and for worse. It would be incorrect to deny the limitations, disability, losses, and illness inherent in later life for most people. The hair is grayer, and there is less of it; joints are stiffer and more painful with arthritis; people react more slowly; they suffer more and deeper losses than ever before; they feel and are more vulnerable to incapacitating and potentially fatal illnesses. Life seems to, and does in fact, have more uncertainties than ever before. In spite of these negatives, most older people persevere, draw on their strengths, and continue to live and function in their homes and communities. Seventy-five percent of people over 65 years and more than half of those over 85 suffer from neither depression nor dementia, and they enjoy work, retirement, avocations, families, friends, and other aspects of life, dealing successfully with the fact that they are no longer 30, 40, or 50 years old. Among other factors, it is crucial to acknowledge the importance of psychological issues, coping styles and skills, and personality characteristics as considerations in how older adults constructively use or deal with the half of a lifetime that is their later years.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - June 4, 2012 at 4:51 pm