Part 1 –“Age vs Aging”–HOW YOU AGE MATTERS
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” George Burns, American Comedian
This cartoon portrays a classic picture of what we think of when we hear the words “senior citizen,” “elder,” “geriatric,” or “older adult.” A picture of someone with a sagging face, gray hair, hunched posture, a cane in hand. And yet, on closer look, the gentleman has a smile on his face and is holding the door open for the lady and in his words about his social life, he is looking positively at the changes in his life—changes that are inevitable for all of us.
Your chronologic age is just a number—should it matter? Mark Twain said “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” That is to say, age is inevitable, but aging is not! It is all about how you choose to age.
Aging is a fact. It happens from the day you are born. The process of aging is beyond our control at many levels but, inside every old person is a young person wondering “WHAT HAPPENED?” Dr. Andrew Weil, author of the book “Healthy Aging–A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being,”describes the common experience of many people who look in the mirror in the morning and see the same face they saw the day before. They hardly notice their aging on a day-to-day basis. Despite the obvious signs of aging (gray or white hair, beard, wrinkles, some extra bulges here and there), everyone still sees the person they were when they were young!
In 2016, the World Health Organization created a global campaign to focus on stereotypes about aging because getting old gets a bad rap.For example, the names for old people–old fogey, geezer, geriatric, senior citizen, gray panther, all have negative meanings. As a result, October 1st was designated “International Day of Older Persons.”
Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panther movement said there are six myths about old age:. 1) That it’s a disease, a disaster. 2) That we are mindless. 3) That we are sexless. 4) That we are useless. 5) That we are powerless. 6) That we are all alike. The process of aging is unique to each person. The most important part of getting older is learning to laugh at ourselves in spite of the aches and pains,forgetfulness, wrinkles and gray hair.
Aging well and aging in place, the desire of most people, requires acceptance, adaptation and accommodation. Acceptance of the aging process is made easier with an understanding of the biologic changes that occur in all humans, although the rate of change varies from individual to individual. A quote from Deepak Chopra, author of many books on healthy aging, says “You can free yourself from aging by reinterpreting your body and by grasping the link between Belief and Biology.”
Stay tuned for Part II, The Biology of Aging—What You Need to Know NOW”