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“There’s a difference between aging and dying,” someone told me today. “Do you have another book about aging?”

My first reaction was that preparing to die is a part of aging. But my new friend (who has also just bought The Art of Dying) convinced me otherwise. “My parents,” he said, “have not aged well.” They had stubbornly refused to stop driving when they no longer could safely do so. They refused to move from the South up to Chicago, where their son lived, in order for him to better care for them. They believed their health problems had to do with bad doctors, not their older bodies failing.

For all these reasons, my friend said that there needs to be a book on aging well. He was determined “not to do to my kids what my parents have done.”

I think that aging well means learning to accept limits and finding new meaning and purpose in a more confined life. This is different than dying, which is about finishing life and preparing for the next. Aging can be more challenging, I imagine, as the process may be longer, more fitful, and offer no finality except in the transition to dying.

Yet people can age well.

So what do you think, is there a book to be written about aging well? What would be included in it?

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3 thoughts on “Aging Well

  1. oh, my!!! can i ever give you chapters upon chapters on aging. i have just watched 4 parents age and die. my key word of advice to the aging is ‘simplify’. people have a better quality of life as they age if they ‘simplify’ on a regular basis.

  2. Yes, we need a book! Well, there are several already, but it’s absolutely a related, bit separate subject.

    One aspect of aging that is near and dear to me is the concept of “aging in place.” This may relate to staying in one’s own home as long as possible, but it also has a lot to do with being in community and staying in community. I don’t know your friend or his parents, but I wonder what their reasons were for “refusing to move.” There are all sorts of good reasons to stay where you are. There are probably some bad reasons too. But when one has built a life in community, picking up and moving to make it easier on one’s children does make me a little sad. I find that it often happens because we define family as having an obligation to care, but church family notsomuch. Why is that? Many church families are more day-to-day family to seniors than their blood relatives.

  3. Aging well? Yes, that’s definitely a subject crying out for more coverage. I am currently keeping a journal here on WordPress in the form of a blog, “Me, My Health, and I”. I’m writing about my experiences helping my elderly parents who refuse to move into assisted living while dealing with my own chronic health issues. Sharing information or just a word or two of support would be a big help to those of us going through this. Please check me out at http://zafodsgirl.wordpress.com. Thanks.

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