The Joys of Growing Old - Top Submission for 2017 SeniorsZen Scholarship Award

The Joys of Growing Old

Please enjoy reading one of the top essays submitted for 2017 SeniorsZen Scholarship Award by Asli Mohamed, “The Joys of Growing Old”:

​The Joys of Growing Old

The thought of aging fills many people with dread. It leads them to spend ridiculous amounts of money on wrinkle creams and pills trying to retain their youth. The same birthdays that were once loved and celebrated are now just a reminder of how old you have become. In our culture there is such an emphasis on staying young that we often forget the joys of growing old. In this essay I would like to share why I embrace the idea of aging in the hopes of relieving someone else of their fears. 

My biggest concern is that we often equate aging with disease. There is a fear that as you get older you will become weak and needy, and doomed to spend your days in bed. It doesn’t help that many movies and TV shows often perpetuate this negative stereotype. A recent survey from the Disabled Living Foundation revealed that two-thirds of us dread becoming a burden on family and friends, while three in four are scared of illness in old age. However, this fear has become over exaggerated.[1] Many studies have found that today in the 21st century many seniors are living longer and healthier lives. For example, a study in Manitoba shows that two-thirds of seniors aged 65 to 74 reported being in good to excellent health, the majority were independent and did not require assistance with everyday activities, and most had no disabilities. Although virtually all seniors in that age bracket saw a physician at least once every year, only 15% were hospitalized.[2] Yes, there will definitely be things you may struggle to do as you get older. But this idea that your life ends once you reach a certain age is absurd. The reason we fear age so much is because of manufactured fear. We focus so much on the negatives, we often forget about the positives. There is more to aging than just disease, and it is wrong to make people fear the longevity of life.

One of the joys of aging is that you experience a sense of calm. It’s called the aging paradox, the older we get the happier we are. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that people in their 20s and 30s reported having the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress, plus the lowest levels of happiness, satisfaction and wellbeing. Older people, surprisingly, were the happiest.[3] This fact may shock a lot of people because we think older people are usually depressed, grumpy, and unhappy. So, why does aging bring you greater happiness? When you're younger you're constantly looking for the next big thing. Getting your university degree, a job promotion, marriage. These are great milestones, however sometimes it can feel like there's a constant pressure for you to make the right life choices. But once you age those expectations slowly stop, there’s a certain serenity. For example, you don’t really care as much about what people think, so you feel freer to speak your mind. You have often learned to pick your battles and recognize when to let go. You don’t feel the need to constantly be doing something with your life. A day spent at home reading a book is not seen as a waste of time. Rather, it’s seen as enjoying your time. The greatest joy of aging is you stop living up to the expectations of others and instead form your own expectations for yourself.

One of the greatest things we fear about age is that we will be viewed as ugly. This is so far from the truth. Can there be beauty in old age? Absolutely.  The smile lines on your face represent years of laughter. The crinkles underneath your eyes show that you have seen events which will be talked about in history books. The spots and marks on your hands prove that you have worked hard to earn an honest living. These marks on your body will serve as a reminder of the moments that we too often forget. Society has taught us not to see wisdom and experience but weakness and ugliness. We receive images from both society and the media that younger is better. Many fear that if they lose their so called looks, they will have nothing else. Yes, your looks will change. You may not turn heads the same way you use to. But you can still be beautiful, successful, and confident no matter how old or young you are. In the wise words of Mark Twain, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.”

Aging happens as soon as we take our first breath. Well I am not in a hurry to grow old, it is not something I fear. For me, growing old is just another chapter in my life. I look forward to the joys and challenges it may present. I do not want to be a victim of old age. I refuse to be a victim of old age. A number will not define my life. It should not define yours either.

 

Written by Asli Mohamed

 

References:[1] Why are we scared of growing old? (2012, May 08). Retrieved December 31, 2016, from http://www.stylist.co.uk/life/why-we-are-scared-of-growing-old

[2] C. (2010). Manitoba's Seniors . Retrieved January 1, 2017, from http://www.gov.mb.ca/shas/publications/docs/profile_manitoba_senior_2010.pdf

[3] Old People Are Happier Than Those In Their 20s. (n.d.). Retrieved January 1, 2017, from http://time.com/4464811/aging-happiness-stress-anxiety-depression

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