The New Teen-agers

48 years ago
Do you remember when you were a teen-ager? You did not have any idea of what was in store for you if you were like me. Perhaps you were starting to realize that your experience was non-existent
and that your parents' ways were not your ways. You probably looked to others to reinforce your developing self-esteem. If you were a girl, you may have hoped that you would marry quickly and be looked after for the rest of your life.

Hopefully in the years to follow , you developed the ability to manoeuvre through
the challenges that life would bring and to deal with uncertainty and disappointment. In schools today, we try to encourage resilience in children. But the age 65+ cohort to which I belong, is growing faster than any other age group in Canada and the United States. We are called "older adults"
a holding stage before we become elderly.

Resilience is identified by health care professionals as an important factor in the lives of ageing adults.

Edith Cooper, the Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs wrote an article entitled “The Resilience Toolkit

How to Develop a Resilience Toolkit

Cooper suggests that resilience can be cultivated using the right “tools,” which she believes includes:
  • Asking for help: Cooper argues that resilient people rely on their support network, asking for help and accepting it when it’s offered. “No one can do it alone,” she says.
  • Finding meaning and purpose in life (beyond the workplace): From caring for family members to volunteering, studies show that seniors who have a purpose are happier and healthier.
  • Focus on what you can control: Like how you respond to situations and your outlook on life.
  • Learning from our mistakes: Rather than fearing failure, people who see mistakes as an opportunity to learn typically emerge from difficult situations stronger and more prepared for future challenges.
  • Nurture your relationships: “Our happiness stems from the company we keep,” Cooper says. “Take time to laugh and connect with the people you love and care about.”
  • Recharge your energy and stay active: Numerous studies show that seniors who remain physically active are mentally and physically healthier.

48 years later
In these years, our faces and bodies will change more significantly than they have in any other period of our lives since puberty. Ageing may bring challenges in health that we could not foresee a decade
earlier. At this time, two of my closest friends are recovering from a fall and awaiting a cardiac procedure.
I'm getting cataract surgery on Friday. In these "tween" years, we can exercise, eat healthfully and have regular medical appointments but we can not predict what health issues may arise in the future.

Our relationships  change throughout our lives but in the next stages, we will inevitably deal with loss. Long-standing partnerships may be challenged by dementia or chronic illness. Women probably will experience widowhood and loss of friends. In the "tween" years, book clubs, gardening clubs, knitting clubs, churches walking groups and volunteer work can help us to build strong new networks.  Blogging has introduced me to a community of people who express different points of
view, who share their day to day experiences and often provide a beautiful photo as well.

Spirituality or faith may contribute to an attitude of hope and optimism. There are no certainties
in life but the question mark in always uncomfortable. I re-read my Living the Questions handouts
and I am reassured that those questions are an integral part of my life. No one can tell me what the future will bring. One spiritual path may lead to equanimity while another may lead to faith in a supreme being. In the area of spirituality/faith, I am a novice. I still don't have any idea what is in store for me but I feel reassured that the minister at my church doesn't either. She studied theology but she has no super powers.

My grandmothers and great grand-mothers lived to their eighties and nineties. Most of them spent
a lengthy period of time alone. As a girl and a younger woman, I did not really notice
their ageing. My mother-in-law, who died a few years ago, was a widow for almost 40 years. She travelled independently until age 80 and then I accompanied her on a lot of Alaska cruises. She played bridge with 3 groups, gardened and enjoyed her dogs. I remember her telling me, when she was in her eighties, that all her friends were dead. When I was a teen-aged girl, I was not sure who my role models should be. That uncertainty continues.

Uncertainty...the question mark is always with me. I am fortunate that I am able to walk as much as I wish, that I can see to read (probably too much), that I am able to buy and prepare healthy food, that I live in a country where free medical care is available and that I have a mind that functions well enough to ask the questions. Gratitude is certainly a key adaptive coping style.

Besides wrinkles, I have something that I did not have as a teenager. I have experience and a life of questioning behind me. Sometimes, I wish that I had lead a less eventful life but do you know what that inexperienced girl declared in her high school yearbook?

"My greatest fear is to lead a perfectly normal life."




Simone de Beauvoir
“I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity. I want this adventure that is the context of my life to go on without end.”
― Simone de BeauvoirLa Vieillesse







Gabriel García Márquez
“The truth is I'm getting old, I said. We already are old, she said with a sigh. What happens is that you don't feel it on the inside, but from the outside everybody can see it.”
― Gabriel García MárquezMemories of My Melancholy Whores
tags: old-age










Nora Ephron
“Everybody dies. There’s nothing you can do about it. Whether or not you eat six almonds a day. Whether or not you believe in God. (Although there’s no question a belief in God would come in handy. It would be great to think there’s a plan, and that everything happens for a reason. I don’t happen to believe that. And every time one of my friends says to me, “Everything happens for a reason,” I would like to smack her.)”
― Nora EphronI Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections

Comments

  1. Your photos, both of them, remind me of the actress I most wished I looked like when I was a teenager--Leslie Caron!

    Your words are very wise and I read them with interest, being much further down the road in age than you are. Resilience is so important. I was just reading this morning about the importance of having a flexible mind rather than a peaceful mind.

    Your mother-in-law was admirable! Your grandmothers and great-grandmothers also. Sometimes, if I let it, fear about what future years may bring to my health and my husband's can overwhelm me. But then, this week a dear family friend lost her battle with cancer in her mid-fifties.

    I'm sure your cataract surgery will go fine! I had that done in both eyes a few summers ago and love not having to wear glasses now, except for reading. You take care!

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    1. Thanks, Dewena. I am sure that I'll love going glasses free. I've worn them for many years

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  2. A very thoughtful and instructive post -- I'll be thinking of you on Friday -- we're so lucky to live in an age when cataracts no longer dictate coke-bottle thick lenses and poor vision.

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  3. We are lucky to have the medical system that provides us with the care as we age.

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  4. I have written that I am struggling to find my purpose now that I am retired. With no family nearby and few retired friends, I am not sure what to do with myself. Have tried volunteering and hope to begin volunteering again soon. But in the meantime, I am a little lost.

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