Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feeling Older?

What does it mean to you to age? If you are 30 years old, you’ll have a different answer than someone who is 70. However, one truth remains for many individuals as they age, and that is: “I feel the same at 60 as I did at 20.”

I find this mindset interesting, because at my age, 43, I ‘feel the same’ as I did at 23; will it last? Yes, I have a few more aches when I over do it and I cannot stay up all night like I used to, but in my mind, I see myself and the world pretty much the same. And even though I’ve learned some (many) life lessons, I still seem to view myself in my mind’s-eye the same now as 20 years ago.

Before my grandmothers passed away, both stated similar statements – the mind thinks the same and the brain still ‘feels’ young, but the body sometimes doesn’t cooperate. One of my grandmothers was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which was slow to progress. She complained when her leg started to drag (decrease of motor functionality) that all she wanted was for the mind to control her leg but ‘that darn leg won’t do what I want it to do’. Yet, until the tumor grew large enough to affect her thought patterns, she still stated she, in her mind, felt youthful.

On the other hand, there are individuals who state that they do in fact ‘feel old’. Is that a true thought or is that something they are feeling due to how their physical body is moving or feeling? Could this be a mind-over-matter issue? Do positive thoughts and outlooks help with this feeling-younger idea?

I don’t have the answers but I do know this from working with older adults – those who possess a positive outlook on life and are joyful tend to have, as they define it, happier lives. I think of Ms. B – she had so many physical ailments and one leg amputated, but she was the happiest person I knew. She greeted the world and everyone with a big smile and a hug. She would tell you a great story if you let her, filled with colorful characters. She is the type of ‘older person’ I want to be… happy with where I am regardless of what life has delivered. But, if I truly want to be like her, I will have to work hard on my storytelling.

-- by Patrick O'Kane, Director of Operations

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