You know that saying, “You’re as young as you feel?”
As with any cliché, idiom, or meme, when it gets repeated enough it loses meaning. It’s something we don’t even think about. However after working with a particular senior, I felt it necessary to bring up because she was 74 years young, but convinced she was as ancient as Mesoamerican ruins.
Time is Arbitrary
This is something we know, but don’t assess – and why would we? In America we work, school, and plan around a calendar. We operate around a time table because how else would our economy function, how would we make it to doctor’s appointments, or even hang out with friends? But when we become slaves to time, that’s when we start living in the past.
But My Best Years…
This woman was convinced her best years were behind her and it got me thinking about what that means. When she spoke of her best years, she was referencing her 30s… but her 30s now, were distant. Her 30s were old! Her age now was in the present, fresh, new, young. In a few months, she would turn 75, and 75 was closer in time than her 30s.
It’s hard to describe and maybe some of you are getting it, but it offered a new perspective. Life is as young as you make it. “Every day is a new day.” The folks out there who feel “aged,” are those who have already mentally defeated themselves – they are old because they tell themselves they are old.
You don’t need a fountain of youth to be young, and the elders who realize this are the ones who view retirement the same way high school students view summer vacation…. Except when you’re retired, summer never ends.
Retirement Community in West Seattle
Needless to say, talk of philosophy came after assessing her care needs and this story does have a happy ending.
After a lot of talking, the senior wanted to get active and experience life – especially now that she had a different opinion of the matter. She wanted a comfortable apartment where she would not have to worry about housekeeping and meal preparation – which had eaten up much of her time.
As she lived in West Seattle, she wanted a retirement community in West Seattle. And, because she knew the area so well, she figured she’d finally give all those social activities and events a shot.
When we talked about some of her hobbies and interests, she talked at length about how much she loved to swim, so we wanted to situate her in a retirement home where she could go swimming regularly at the local YMCA. Like most seniors, she was a bit skeptical as to whether or not we could meet all her expectations and pleasantly surprised when we exceeded them.
She ended up choosing a Retirement Community in West Seattle that handles home maintenance and provides meals, so that she has absolute freedom to explore and get involved. Today, she’s swimming, sometimes 4 times a week at the local YMCA and happy each day she goes.
Our best years are not behind us, these are constructs we made to get things done on time. And when you’re an elder and can – more or less – pawn off responsibilities to staff members to help make your meals and keep up your household, you can live the life you’ve always dreamed.