Aging – a Time of Joy or a Time to Rest?

February 16, 2018

Image Credit: RyanJLane / iStock


We are living at a time when the world is transforming at probably the swiftest rate ever. Every sphere you can think of is undergoing major changes, including the way our society thinks of aging, and the way that older people see themselves and act.

Through the ages, it has often been very difficult to even survive past able-bodied age, let alone to enjoy it. Even though most cultures had the proverbial respect for the elders, the activities appropriate for specific age groups were severely restricted. You really couldn’t catch a grandmother dancing with the young girls at a fair, or an old man competing with young lads in some physical activity. But our times shatter all kinds of stereotypes, and aging stereotypes are definitely among them.

It’s not an easy process, since the changes in science, medicine and technology are way too rapid for the world to process. While we understand that people are living longer and healthier lives, it’s still difficult to overcome the idea that has been burned into the human mind for thousands of years, namely, that aging is equated with feebleness, lack of physical and psychological control, pain, and general loss of joy and freedom. If one was lucky, he or she would be surrounded by loving family members, but it wasn’t always the case.

Now the physical part of aging, at least in developed countries, has prolonged the potentially active period of a person’s life by many years, and, banning serious health issues, 60 is indeed the new 40. In the US, Japan, Europe the average life expectancy is said to have been extended by two decades since merely a hundred years ago. A crucial element of aging well is the ability to be happy. As Mark Twain had said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” People around the world who are not letting age slow them down have a very important thing in common – they are enjoying life. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing it in ways that are ‘proper’ for an older person in the eyes of the society.

There is a growing number of skateboarders, skydivers, models, pole dancers, downhill skiers, DJs, figure skaters, divers, mountain climbers – you name it – among modern grandfathers and grandmothers. Life does not have end at a certain age that forces you to sit down in a reclining chair, watch TV and do ‘senior’ things. Today, more easily than ever before, one can lead an active and independent life and enjoy every day to the fullest. Obviously, hobbies don’t need to be extreme in order to bring joy, but they most clearly illustrate the fact that restrictions imposed on people by aging are – at least to a certain extent – artificial and can be understood and transcended.

What are the secrets?

Well, these aren’t secrets per se, and have been known in theory for centuries, but the happiest people who continue to maintain an active lifestyle are open to communication, willing to try new things and are generally very tolerant towards others and accepting of life events. It’s very much a choice – whether to accept your ‘senior’ status and wait for the end, or to live your life as you see fit. After fifty it may actually become easier to act on your long-standing wishes of taking up a certain hobby or activity, since the children are mostly grown up, and the strain of social duties is somewhat loosened.

Another great benefit of the modern times is the Internet. It’s a great tool for any group of people that shares certain interests to find comrades-in-arms anywhere, receive support and have fun. There are many examples, and this group, which unites skateboarders of a seemingly unlikely age is just one to remind ourselves that our lives are in our own hands. There are many other groups like it, and, hopefully, the ease of online communications will help more aging people find support and inspiration and retain the joy of life throughout any age.


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