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Ageing: we’re all in it together

It was a long time before I even gave ageing a thought. Why would I? I had so much going on in the here and now, that I didn’t have time to dwell too much on the future. In my forties though, I started to think about the physical effects of ageing – better later than never! I took up Pilates for core strength and running for cardiovascular health. Feeling physically stronger, I put it to the back of my mind again.

It wasn’t until my mid-fifties that my own ageing started to become real to me. What changed? Well, some of the inevitable family events triggered reflection: the death of my father; my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis; and my son’s 30th birthday, to name a few of the big ones. On top of that, there were practical reminders that my employer would probably want me to retire at some point, that the new mortgage I wanted could only have a limited length, and that there were only so many years left to fit in all the things I still wanted to do with my life. It was the last of these that spurred me on to take the Masters degree in Psychology that I’d been talking about for years. And that led me to reading more about all sorts of aspects of human behaviour, but in particular those that affect us as we age. And that led me here, to write on ageing and share those articles with others who are thinking about the same challenges.

One thing is for certain – we are all ageing and we are all in this together, albeit at different points. So, if we can embrace ageing and see the positives that it brings, and equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to deal with the negatives… well, that has to be a good thing.

These are a few of the big topics that I’ll be exploring further in the articles on this site:

Society’s expectations

Western society doesn’t look kindly on ageing. In the media, there are arguably more positive depictions of older people in recent years – but it’s still something that’s very neglected. And why are so many of the consumer products focused on anti-ageing – is that what we’re looking for?

Working life

In the past it was accepted that working life stopped in our mid-sixties and transitioned, often none too gently, into retirement. For many of us that’s just not true any longer. Longer and healthier lives, combined with decreasing pension provisions have seen to that. So, what does later working life look like, and could it even be good for us?

Relationships

As we grow older, our relationships change. We start to face more loss as parents, older relatives and friends die. Our children and dependents find their independence from us and move on. Our life partnerships develop in new ways. Our friendships and social circles reflect different interests. As we’re faced with so much change, how do we best adapt to make sure we still feel valued and avoid the loneliness that can come in later life?

Physical and mental wellbeing

There are undeniable physical and mental changes that come with ageing. How can we best cope with these, and are there strategies that we can adopt to help us age better? In fact, there’s a burgeoning section of psychological study that focuses on just that. Successful
Ageing, as it was originally termed, is defined as high physical, psychological, and social functioning in old age without major diseases. Intriguing!

Personal attitudes to ageing

It seems to me to be common sense that our attitude to anything influences the outcome. If we think we’re going to succeed, we’re bound to embrace any challenge more positively than if we think we’re going to fail. And a more positive approach means we bring more energy and commitment to the matter at hand. Could the same be true of ageing? A host of different studies suggest that it is.

I’m looking forward to explore all the facets of ageing – the good and the bad – and I hope the knowledge will help equip us all to get the very best of the years to come.

Literature and Links

Rowe JW, Kahn RL. Successful aging. The Gerontologist. 1997 Aug;37(4):433-40. doi: 10.1093/geront/37.4.433. PMID: 9279031.

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