Perhaps because I create and am surrounded by messages related to aging and aging services as part of my work, age-related things stand out to me as I am living my life outside of work. Maybe it’s the same for you?
Two recent examples come to mind for me.
My husband and I were watching television and happened across a film, “Gold Diggers of 1937,” on TMC and started watching it. (I later learned that the musical/comedy was released in late 1936.) We were struck by the fact that one of the characters, who kept referring to himself as old, as did other characters — to the point that they took out a life insurance policy on him, convinced that he was going to die — was supposed to be 59. Fifty-nine! That’s old?
To be fair, I subsequently discovered that the average life expectancy for men in 1936 was 56.6 years, and in 1937 it was 58 years. So at the time, film-watchers might have considered that “old” character, J.J. Hobart, fortunate to still be alive.
This newfound nugget of knowledge really made me appreciate advances in the areas of medicine, health and wellness — and long-term care! — that have boosted not just life expectancy but also quality of life in the intervening years.
In the other example, my husband and I went to see Elton John perform on his farewell tour this weekend. I had high expectations, and Sir Elton did not disappoint. His piano playing and singing still are very strong, perhaps blowing away preconceived notions that some members of the public may have about the capabilities and stamina of a 75-year-old.
The farewell tour is slated to last another year, but when he stops performing large concerts, Elton John will be doing so on his own terms, to spend more time with his family.
Maybe the senior living residents you serve need more assistance with activities of daily living than this music icon, but they’re all impressive in their own ways.
Positive aging messages are everywhere if we choose to see them. And we always have opportunities to learn and adjust our thinking as needed.
Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here.