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Old age, the twilight years, withering away. All these words bring various aspects of aging to mind. It makes we wonder if we are aware/conscious each day, each moment that we are aging.

When do you think someone is old? Has that number been fixed throughout your life or has it changed? Many young children will say 20 is old, yet rarely will you hear a person of 20 say this. This Sinatra classic came to mind as I was writing this post.

What role does health have in making someone old? Years of working in long-term care have demonstrated that health plays a part in aging though it can be difficult to quantify. I think of age as a balance between chronological, mental, outlook, and physical state. I can best illustrate that with an example. Many years ago I returned to work at the nursing home following my maternity leave. With a room roster in hand, I made introductions to the new faces on the rehab unit of the facility. I entered one room, and left feeling I had just met someone who was mid 60’s and in poor health. Later that day I was surprised to find in the chart that person was my age.

Is growing old a negative? Why? When? For whom? Men have long searched for a fountain of youth, for promises of potions and creams that remove signs of aging. Are there positive aspects of aging?

Recently I came across an overview for a course on conscious aging. Built upon the premise that aging provides challenges and opportunities, the author presents the concept of stages of aging.

Aging invites changes in worldview as we progress through developmental stages that connect to body, mind, society, and spirit. As we age, world views can become more rigid, constricted, suspicious, or fearful in response to the challenges of retirement, friends and loved ones becoming ill or dying, cognitive and physical decline, and society’s undervaluing of elders. However, aging can also lead to an expanded sense of self and the world. Conscious inquiry can inform our experiences of aging, our models of what happens when we die, and our understanding of the way our beliefs impact how we live. Aging offers us opportunities to broaden and deepen our understanding of what gives life meaning and purpose.

This course sounds wonderful! (I’d love to hear impressions from those taking the course as my schedule does not allow me to add it at this time.)

All this makes me think we need a positive perspective on aging. Maybe we need to appreciate those who have aged with grace. Maybe we need to embrace these word of Betty Friedan:

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

 What is your perspective on aging? Please share it in the comments below completing the CAPTCHA.

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