Abstract: Addressing the different ways that cultures look at the aging process. Deciding that aging is not something to fix or a disease to be cured. Embracing it as natural, empowering and lifelong process that we all have in common. Choices that we can make to keep our lives positive as we grow older.
As children we thought of being old as something very far away. We looked at old people with a curious mind and welcomed grandparents who gave us presents. The years passed and we suddenly find ourselves being one of those old people!
Every culture has a different way of looking at the aging process. In some cultures, particularly the western ones, elders are seen as a burden, forgetful, sick, unattractive, in pain and having terrible quality of life. In other cultures such as in Japan, elders are honored, revered and respected for their wisdom, skills, creativity, inspiration and purpose.
Aging is not an experience that needs to be fixed. Nor is it a disease to be cured. It is a natural, empowering and lifelong process that we all have in common. Aging may be difficult to accept at first as our bodies change. Our ability to physically do things changes and we can find ourselves feeling less valued in our society. Often we struggle to find a new way of living and taking care of ourselves. It is a time of redefining who we are and what our purpose is now.
The biggest obstacle as we move into the later phase of life is living in a culture that tells us that getting older means shuffling offstage. In his passionate TedTalk, Let’s End Ageism, Ashton Applewhite defines ageism as “discrimination and stereotyping on the basis of age.” He awakens us to the facts that only four percent of older Americans are living in nursing homes, and the percentage is dropping. It also turns out that most of us can continue to think very clearly. Dementia rates are dropping. The real epidemic is anxiety over memory loss. Ageism is assuming someone is too old for doing a certain task, instead of finding out who they are and what they are capable of. Prejudice such as this relies on seeing a group of people as other than ourselves. The “other” in ageism is us! It feeds on denial, avoidance and reluctance to acknowledge that we all are becoming that older person.
What if we embrace and celebrate our ability to adapt and grow as we move through life? What if we let go of trying to be the younger versions of ourselves and embrace our aging as an experience of curiosity, wonder and fun? What if embrace growing old as a privilege?
People with a more positive attitude and feelings about aging walk faster, do better on memory tests, heal quicker and live longer. Many people stay mentally very sharp. Howard Friedman, the author of The Longevity Process and psychology professor at the University of California, says that genes only contribute one-fourth to one-third of our longevity. The rest is up to us!
Choices that we can make to keep our lives positive as we grow older by…
About the author: Crystal is a certified expansion guide with the Total Integration Institute, author, multidimensional coach and facilitator for the live event called Freedom at the Core. She is the instructor and coach for her online course, Freedom From the Inside Out. She draws from her own experience and the experience of the thousands of people she has worked with over the past 35 years. Crystal is known for the fun and empowering way she supports people in bringing forth the experiences they want in their lives. Currently she is writing a series of children's books that embrace the principles of living freedom.