As the new year approaches, we can look back and see the good and the bad of the past year and look forward with hope to the coming one. The New York Times published an article featuring sage advice from elderly experts, interviewed for the legacy project, on different subjects, from careers to happiness. Here are just a few of their responses to help us all have a better year.
ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”
Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. And keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.
ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.” Most of those interviewed discovered that old age greatly exceeded their expectations.
Another said, “Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t actually there in the previous time.”
Maintain social contacts. Avoid becoming isolated. When an invitation is issued, say yes. Take steps to stay engaged, and take advantage of opportunities to learn new things. Although many were initially reluctant, those who moved to a senior living community found more freedom to enjoy activities and relationships than they had before.
To those who worry about dying, these men and women said the best antidote is to plan for it: Get things organized, let others know your wishes, tidy up to minimize the burden on your heirs.
ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. And travel more when you’re young rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.
ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.
- A 75-year-old man said, “You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.”
- An 84-year-old said, “Adopt a policy of being joyful.”
- A 90-year-old woman said, “I learned to be grateful for what I have, and no longer bemoan what I don’t have or can’t do.”
Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.
For many years we have been blessed to help so many area seniors continue to live a full life at home by providing a continuum of first-class care right in their homes. As the new year approaches we look forward to many more smiles and chances to show our area seniors just how important they are to our community.