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“Growing Old Gracefully”…Really?

By Amy Austin RN, PsyD, LMFT
Growing Old Gracefully

Whoever coined the phrase “growing old gracefully” must have thought of it when they were young. Besides looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face staring back at you, I guess the term might be relevant if one didn’t have to deal with the daily aches and pains, doctor’s appointments, chronic pain, hormonal changes, dealing with sick and dying friends and family members, loneliness and isolation, possible financial concerns including medication costs, the stresses of caregiving, “emotional invisibility” coming from a youth oriented society, age discrimination in the workplace, and the realization that life is finite with a finite number attached to it. 

Oscar Wilde said, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” Our minds should not define who we are, but we continue to engage in stinkin’ thinkin’. The same goes for giving more credence to the negative aspects of the aging process rather than embracing its gifts. 

Even though we are showing signs of aging, we can give ourselves a permission slip to “empower” through. If you visualize yourself helicoptering “waaaay” up and looking down at all of life’s challenges, I invite you to come to the realization that all is okay and can be dealt with (or not) and that you’re not the problem, the problem is the problem. 

I want to mention that with age can come some metabolic changes such as fatigue, loss of appetite, diminished interest or pleasure with daily activities, sadness, changes in sleep and changes in concentration. These are symptoms of depression and I’d advise making an appointment with a psychiatrist or your primary physician for a professional assessment. 

Just because we sometimes whisper when asked our birth year in public, that doesn’t mean we should be silent about aging. Here are a few loud and proud suggestions for “growing old GRACE-FULLY”: 

  • Engage in activities or projects that allow for creative expression and provide a sense of individual fulfillment. 
  • Enjoy ongoing and/or create interpersonal bonds with loved ones and friends. We are communal beings needing, wanting, and deserving validation from true, authentic relationships.
  • Pay it forward by giving to an organization that touches your heart. Acts of giving to others can make your soul sing!
  • Respect your body by eating well, staying physically active and getting enough sleep. Mooove!
  • Learn something new every day.
  • Dump the drama. You and only you can decide what you internalize. Accept what’s valuable and positive and delete what’s not. 
  • Laugh! Dance! Get silly!
  • Embrace and enjoy spirituality.

Recently, I was at the grocery store and when I walked up to check out, the clerk said in a really loud voice, ‘DO YOU WANT TO USE YOUR TUESDAY SENIOR DISCOUNT?’ Inside I was dying, but that turned into a giggle and I replied, “Heck yes!” I mean, why not have a few more bucks to be able to spend with my senior discount at the movies?

Amy Austin is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFC# 41252) and doctor of clinical psychology in Rancho Mirage. Dr. Amy can be reached at (760) 774.0047.

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