The truth is we are all aging every day. The trick is to continue to embrace the mystery of your aging process after you reach the age when others refer to you as a, “senior” with continued grace, deft transitions, flexibility in your thinking and actions, acceptance, and quiet joy…All are sometimes easier said than done…As my mother used to say, “The ‘Golden Years’ are not for the faint of heart.” Senior years can be stressful, isolating, challenging times, and they can be liberating, relaxing and exciting. So much depends on your genes and how you feel – how much of your physical abilities you’re able to bring into your older and elder years, how much you adapt when your physical abilities change, how much loss, grief and “new normals” you can handle, and if your financial resources are adequate for your life style or one you can settle into with flexible, creative thinking and budgeting so you can remain satisfied and happy in life.
You can help your chances of living a happy, fulfilled, satisfying life by staying active and involved with life. Keeping your mind engaged, learning new skills, starting new hobbies, socializing with others, reading, and discussing books or current events, helps you stay active and regulates your moods to keep you more upbeat. In addition, all those kinds of activities can slow down any cognitive issues that may be waiting for you. You’ll need to modify your activities to fit any physical issues interfering with what you, “used to do” – such as, going from running to fast walking, and later still walking, or substituting swimming for aching knees that will no longer allow you to play tennis.
Three keys for aging gracefully are: 1) your inherited genes (which you have no control over,) 2) your health, and 3) your attitude (which you can do something about.) If you continue to look at what you had and are upset, angry, or disappointed with what you have now – you won’t be enjoying life much. If you can again create a new life, like you did when you moved to a new place when you were younger, or, chose a major in college, or changed jobs, or launched your children in adulthood. Senior years have a number of “new normals” and opportunities for continued growth and change.
When you learn how to adapt to the “new normals” that inevitably come your way, you’ll be happier as you age. There are those “new normals” like losing your spouse, your life partner, that are more difficult to adapt to than others. It may take resolutely talking to yourself and reminding yourself, “I’m still alive and I have some choices here in how I feel about this and if I’ll go on to live as my spouse would have wanted me to. I just have to begin to face my new life, a little at a time, and make the most of it.” If you suddenly can’t do an activity you’ve loved for years, there is grief and loss that have to be experienced before you can accept and adapt to that new normal. Sometimes it’s difficult to get out of your “disappointment rut” to figure out a way to see the silver lining and live in it. A therapist can help you take on your “new normals,” heal from old traumas holding you back, resolve big disappointments that just won’t leave your mind…and help you enjoy yourself and your life.
Remember that expression – do you look at life as if the glass is half empty or half full?” Yes, that applies here AND there are so many factors beyond your control. A therapist can help you creatively look beyond what you’re imagining and come up with new ways of being in your life as you continue to age and as your life continues to change.
You don’t have to be alone. Joanne Baum, PhD will be, “Handling the hard stuff with you.”
Issues You May Want Some Help Handling:
- Emotional Issues – grief, fear, stress anxiety, depression, disappointment, worry, fear
- a. Grief – losing loved ones, friends, children moving away, divorce…
- b. Covid and all the stress that has come about the form of that new normal of isolation and fear and grief
- c. Past trauma coming up now that you have more time on your hands
- Life adjustments – moving, retiring, widowhood, empty nesters, financial changes, health challenges, relationship issues, finding meaning in life without working
- Financial Challenges
- Chronic Health Issues
- Chronic Pain
- Alcohol or Drug Issues
Do Any of These Questions Sound Familiar to You?
- Are you experiencing more stress and anxiety between Covid, lockdowns, and Isolating from loved ones and friends?
- Is the current state of our country another source of anxiety and stress for you?
- Are you feeling more stress than usual and not liking how that’is affecting your moods and health?
- Are you feeling elevated stress and getting irritable with others around you?
- Are you finding a little drink or two helps your nerves and anxiety?
- Do you still have your life partner by your side?
- Is your relationship stressing you out?
- Do you wonder why you’re being irritable and grumpy with yourself and/or others?
- Are you having trouble figuring out who you are now that you aren’t working?
- Are you wondering where meaning can be in life now that you’re not working anymore?
- And you were looking forward to retirement why?
- Are you experiencing widowhood and feeling lost and lonely?
- Are you drinking more than you used to?
- Are you wondering if you could possibly be drinking “too much” sometimes?
- Are you wondering where your children are and why they aren’t contacting you more often?
- Have you been surprised by how your body and health is deteriorating and how you can handle these changes?
- Perhaps you’re dealing with shock or disappointment about a new physical change for you or your life partner?
- Are you living with a family member who you love and arguing way too much?
- Are you financially strained and wondering how you can continue to live the life you want to as your finances dwindle in front of your eyes?
- Are you thinking of moving out of a home you have lived in for many years?
- Are you in a relationship that is emotionally, verbally or physically abusive?
- Do you wonder what emotional and verbal abuse looks like, feels like, sounds like?
- Is a family member beginning to show signs of cognitive impairment?
- Are you or someone you love showing signs of Dementia or Alzheimer’s?
- Are you having trouble budgeting?
- Are you beginning to forget things you used to remember?
- Are you lonely?
- Are you frustrated with your life as it is and wondering how you can feel better?
- Are you feeling guilty because you “should be” more grateful for what you have and yet you feel so blah.
- Are you feeling worthless and wonder whether life is worth living?
- Are you having trouble relating to younger people in your life?
- Are you Disappointed? Lonely? Frustrated? Angry? Worrying too much?
Joanne Baum, PhD offers a variety of services to older adults and their families. Joanne has expertise in individual and family therapy, mediation, communication skills, respectfully negotiating differences, and collaboration towards a solution that meets everyone’s needs. Joanne received a National Institute on Aging Fellowship during her PhD studies in the 1970s. She studied aging, life span development, multi generational families, life span education, and widowhood. Joanne has been Aging ever since and is now a “senior” herself. Joanne is licensed in Colorado, Indiana and awaiting licensure in Florida. Dr. Baum provides Telehealth sessions to people throughout the states where she is licensed.