Category Archives: Seniors

Storms and aging….not related but…

The storm over my house Aug 3rd ‘22

Below are excerpts from a most interesting article that caught my eye this morning. Click on the title below for the full article.But first I am in the middle of a storm here so I had to put in a photo taken off my balcony. We don’t get a lot of tornadoes here, at least not in Kitchener, but the warning applied right here.

The most threatening part of the storm moved through fairly quickly followed by rain, thunder and hail storms. We could use a good few hours of rain but I am not sure that will happen, It’s still a dark and stormy night here but a normal one. The Kind I like. 

So what got me so excited about the article below? You probably already know Judith, my partner here at AWA, and I fully embrace not embracing the ‘expected’ idea of aging.

This article says pretty much how I feel. And it expresses it better than I could. I do hope you will enjoy it.

We’re Thinking About Aging All Wrong, According to a Longevity Expert

Aging can be an uphill slope, with the right perspective.

“Stop telling people in their 20s that these are the best years of their lives. They’re not.”

That’s straight from an expert with decades of psychological research focused on aging—so you can trust her that you haven’t left your best years behind. Laura Carstensen, Ph.D. is the founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, where she studies motivational and emotional changes that occur with age and the influence these changes have on the way we process information.

1. The ‘work, then retire’ model needs serious rethinking

People are living longer than ever—and that means we need a new life map, Carstensen says. 

A 100-year-long life may soon be common, but our society isn’t set up for it. “The social institutions, economic policies, and social norms that evolved when people lived for half as long are no longer up to the task,” she explains. “The resulting narrative around an ‘aging society’ seems to convey only a crisis, ignoring obvious opportunities to redesign those institutions, practices, and norms and bring them into sync with the health, social, and financial needs of 100-year lives.”

One problem, as she sees it, is this: “When we are working, we are working too hard, and then when we’re retired, we’re retired too hard. Working for 60-80 hours a week isn’t good for anybody and retiring for 30 years isn’t good for anybody.”

In her research, Carstensen found that across the board, people were not as cognitively sharp after they retired as they were when they were working, except for one group of people: Those who were in high-complexity jobs who retired for one year and then went back to work in some capacity. These people were in better cognitive shape than those who had continued to work steadily. Instead of working full-time for 40 years and then retiring completely, Carstensen proposes that “we need breaks…we could take these thirty years [of “retirement”] and put them anywhere we want.”

2. Seeking happiness is no way to live

Carstensen is not a fan of what she calls a “happiness agenda” that’s sprouted up in recent years—it puts too much pressure on meeting an unrealistic goal, and can be surprisingly harmful to mental health: “Seeking happiness is almost doomed to fail,” she says.

“It’s constantly hurting people when we tell them they should be happy and making happiness a goal,” says Carstensen. She adds that there’s also an expectation for partners to make you happy and “if they don’t make you happy, you leave them, and that really makes you unhappy.” 

The real key to happiness is learning to process mixed emotions. According to her research, Carstensen says “the richest emotional states we have are the ones with mixed emotions.” People at older age are much better equipped to do this than younger people. They can appreciate the whole experience for what it is, all the good and all the bad and everything in between. As we age, we can feel things such as bittersweetness with a much higher level of understanding.

3. Instead of looking to the future, live in the present

It’s easier said than done. We spend all our formative years thinking about our futures, and the present tends to pass by without our noticing. But living in the moment is an essential part of what makes older people feel content, Carstesen says. Older people tend to focus on and remember more positive than negative information, something she calls the positivity effect.

In her own research, Carstensen has learned that older people have a much easier time living in the moment. This is likely because as we get older, we realize that time is running out eventually, and there isn’t a long future ahead of us to plan for. Therefore, we pay more attention to things as they happen and we struggle much less with being in the present.

Wherever you are in life, though, you can “enjoy the moment you’re in and recognize it while you have it,” says Carstensen.

4. Invest less in the idea of wisdom, more in creativity

The idea of being wise from all your years of life experience is pushed on old people—but there isn’t actually any proof that older generations are wiser than young ones!

“It is true that older people solve hotly charged conflicts better than young people,” according to Carstensen. But this is “less about age and more about perspective and the distance from the event…You sound wise when you say ‘when I was in my 20s or 30s I thought this’ but it’s dependent on the distance from you being that age, not how old you are today.”

Carstensen’s research shows that “when it comes to solving personal problems, new problems, older people don’t do any better than younger people.” This makes sense. If you thought about the same problem for 50 years, of course you would have an easier time solving the issue than when you had first experienced it. New problems are just as hard for us to solve at any age

Brilliant Morning Thoughts #1 – Carpe diem Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow (the future)”

#1:  When you are old do not amble through life, but charge ahead with purpose and urgency.  That ambling shit is what makes us old.

Perception – and you all know what I think about perception- Nietzsche and all that.

Younger folk are driven to live.  Must get up, must go to work, must do for children, do, do, do, and glad at the end of the day when well deserved rest is achieved.  Days off and vacation are celebrated.  When I retire life will be sweet.  No rush, no need to be somewhere, doing something often equates to doddering.

This old girl wonders if there should be lessons on retiring.  Not this advertised crap about tennis, golf and travel and comfortable worry free living.  That doesn’t apply to most of us.  But lessons on living with purpose; having a sense of urgency that gets us up out of that bed.

In the obligated stress of pre-retirement life there is often a desire to believe we will become stress free.  Not gonna happen.  Remove the ‘have to’ of your existence and you are often left with the ‘whaaaa’?

I once heard a statistic from the Ministry of Health that more than 80% of seniors in Nursing Homes are depressed.  Guess what?  It’s not just in Nursing Homes.

Imagine you are running a marathon; Sweating, grunting, breathless effort that fills you with exhaustion and energy all at the same time.  Finally you reach the finish line and everyone cheers.  There are awards and gifts and then the crowd goes off to their busy lives and you are left standing holding a card that says ‘You made it!  You retired!  Your work is done!

Now you figure you can slip into a lower gear and slow down.  But what if the exertion of the race is what kept you going and succeeding, kept you young?  What if a lower gear is just the beginning of a slippery slope?

For many of us pre-retirement is energy.  And energy begets more energy.  Changing our Mondays to Fridays and making everyday a Saturday is not a good thing when it goes on day after day after day.

Passivity is the biggest danger to aging.  We passively watch others live their lives, and we suddenly find ourselves on the fringes of life – looking in.

The life giving sense of urgency can be as simple and the desire to get out of bed and make our tea.  Watching TV doesn’t even have to be passive if we get engaged in what we are seeing or hearing.  Engagement.

And we all have to find our own paths in this.  A list from me isn’t going to help anyone.  I have been retired for seven full years, just beginning my eighth and I am just figuring some of this out.  It’s been on my mind, teased me with niggling thoughts like little pieces of a puzzle and I am just getting enough of a picture ….more to come I am sure.

The Ooopside of Senior Communication

There is much merriment in the world of geriatric graceful aging.  First and foremost, before you even get close post sixty you would do well to establish a grainy gritty sense of humor.

seniors communication funny-cartoons-comic

This is not the humor of your youth, or even middle age.  Like a fine wine that takes time to develop this is The Cadillac of humor, or I guess in this age, given the times, The Tesla of Humor.  Did I get that right?  That very question is becoming The Question of each and every day in some small way.  Did I get that right?  Does that sound right?  Good grief.

The object of your humor is nothing more than yourself.  Yup, better learn to laugh at yourself.  Start young.  It makes it easier in the dim lit of the top ten ( 70, 80, 90, 100).

A sound chuckle after an Oops achieves a lot of things; it saves those around you from gazing too long trying to make sense of what you have just done or said,  it gives same said audience a chance to chuckle (something they may not be doing much of these days. They can be a serious lot, these young’uns, can’t they?), it increases your ever slowing circulation (always a plus), and it gives you a moment to get your head on straight and try to figure out just what the hell  you were doing in the first place.

The downside is laughing, depending on your circumstance and effectiveness of medications, may cause some urinary incontinence. (I never thought I would see the day when adult pull-ups were not only necessary but the subject of cocktail party conversation.  Now is that right?  If people still socialize in such groups are the groups even called cocktail parties anymore?)

I swear, I over heard a conversation last evening, note ‘over heard’ cause no way I would be a part of such a group, and it went like this. “Oh, I tried that brand of Pull-up and did not like it.  I get mine in bulk at….”  Honest.  I kid you not.

Anyway one of the joys of senior communication is making plans to speak to someone half a world away.  See?  Again, I kid you not.  She is literally half a world away.

She, of course if Judith Baxter whom you are, or if you are not, might want to be familiar with through her blog I choose how I will spend the rest of my life and Books&MoreBooks2017.

So we know she is a day ahead and seventeen hours or something.  But for me the easy way is that she is always, well most of the time, eight hours behind me (and one day ahead).  We did well over the last couple of years with our skyping EXCEPT when those damn clocks change.  She is the opposite of seasons so when I have summer, she had winter.  Except in winter the clocks go back an hour (you know, Fall back and Spring forward.)

Yes there are times we just plain get befuddled with what the other side of the world is doing.  And then there is Senior Logic where what is eight hours in our minds  becomes six hours.

Every tried to contact someone when you are two hours away from reality?  Uhuh. Not successful.  It has nothing to do with time zones or planet placement.  Now that is what I call the Oopside of Senior Communication.