In America, older generations continue to push the life expectancy limit. Mankind is living longer and healthier lives than ever before. According to Deborah DiGilio from the Practice Organization of the American Psychology Association, “People 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and by 2030 will account for 20% of our nations people.” Aging has all different kinds of pros and cons. A lot of the time, most people have negative connotations when it comes to aging, even though it has become much easier to live healthier for longer. Usually, we being to think about life as being closer to the end than the beginning. As a result, according to the American Psychology Association (APA), “Mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, adversely affect physical health and ability to function, especially in older adults.”
The reality of getting older is that it is scary. When our mental and physical abilities begin to deteriorate it can be hard to keep a positive outlook. In addition to this, there are various factors surrounding old age that are hard to deal with. Those being financial worries, deaths of close friends or loved ones, or trouble enjoying everyday activities because of physical decline. Although, these types of scenarios can be discouraging, one of the most important parts of aging is staying positive. According to the APA, “Researchers suspect that there may be a link between the onset of late-life depression and Alzheimer’s disease.” While this can be a rather daunting piece of information, it can also be a reason to spark the joys of getting to an older age. Things like having grandchildren or learning a new skill that you never had the time to before, are only a couple of the joys of getting older.
An article published in the New York Times, by 80 year old Dr. Oliver Sacks, goes through the ups and downs of getting to an old age. By the end of the article he describes that when you get to an old age, you have a long life of experiences; times that have given you fulfillment and joy. In his words, old age is a time of “leisure and freedom”, the only person you really have to please at this age is you!
As we get older our outlook on life is one that should become more positive, as our mental and physical health almost depend on it. Our attitudes can really change the way we think and the way our bodies feel. Look out for elderly loved ones, especially if they begin to show signs of depression. Be supportive for parents or friends who are aging; but most of all help them to see the exciting parts of aging.
“Psychology and Aging.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/pi/aging/resources/guides/aging.pdf.
DiGilio, Deborah A. “Psychology and Aging: Resources for an Ever-Growing Population’s Needs.” http://www.apapracticecentral.org, 9 Oct. 2014, www.apapracticecentral.org/update/2014/10-09/ever-growing-population.aspx.