In many countries, such as Africa, Japan and Greece, elders or seniors are revered, respected and responsible to pass on wisdom and life experiences with younger generations. In more Westernized cultures, we are often bombarded with anti-aging solutions to fight the decline of beauty and strength. Consequently, we tend to view aging as a skeleton in the closet – something we are ashamed of and don’t want to think or talk about. Marcel Proust once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
As a Gerontologist, one of my roles is to re-wire our thinking and give our eyes new spectacles to see the presence of an aging person as an essential piece of society. The role of seniors in our lives and community are many including warmth, wisdom and stewardship. We can focus on anti-aging or we can embrace aging (at our own pace) and strive for successful aging.
One of the many joys I have in the work that I do is working alongside some incredible elders. At 94 years old, a client of mine embodies the meaning of successful aging. One of her many goals is to be able to continue enjoying nature and hiking as a way to maintain her independence and lead a purposeful life.
So that’s what we do together. Lucky me.
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– Mike G., Nanaimo, BC
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