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home : health : health May 26, 2018

4/24/2018 6:47:00 PM
Live until I die
By Sue Stafford

"The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different."

~ Carl Jung ~

No news here. People are living longer and the number of older people continues to grow. People are saying that 70 is the new 60 as retirees remain active and engaged.

It's time to reframe our perception of aging and overcome long-standing bias about being "over the hill." That is where "purposeful aging" comes in.

From our first breath we are on the way to our last. There is no reason to separate or isolate those who have been around a little longer or who move a little slower. Babies are pretty helpless when they arrive, but everyone greets them with joyous attention. Why not at the end of life as well?

Our elders, seniors, old folks, whatever we call ourselves represent untapped storehouses of experience, wisdom, cautionary tales, humor, stories, knowledge, and history. Don't be afraid to ask someone questions about their life, and don't be afraid to offer your experience.

I am encouraging those of us "of a certain age" to embrace our later years with purpose, creativity, and passion. Become engaged in social causes, civic organizations, and encore careers. We can serve as both mentors and caregivers. I am much happier when I greet my world with a sense of vitality and productivity rather than stagnation and dread.

What is your meaning and purpose? Mine has become abundantly clear as I survey my various careers and life experience. The outer trappings may look different - parent, therapist, transitions coordinator, freelance writer. But the continuum has one core purpose. I have been and am a conduit - for my young children to the outside world, for my counseling clients to themselves, and for my transitions clients to services and healthcare. As a freelance writer, all my past experiences inform my writing as I pass on information and inspiration to the readers. Often, when I am talking with someone, I can connect them to a person, place, or service stored in my internal Rolodex of past contacts and experiences. (Rolodex - that dates me!)

Currently in Sisters we all have a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational conversations and collaboration as we work together to make our community "age-friendly." That doesn't just mean helping old people across the street.

Rather, it is having services, facilities, and activities that maximize everyone's experience of living in Sisters. It is a teenager helping the adult down the street navigate his computer. It's the neighbor helping the young mother with her children. It's the handy guy fixing a loose railing for Mr. Smith. It's having accessible facilities for wheelchairs and strollers.

When I go to the grocery store or into Bend, is there someone for whom I can pick up a few things? Does someone need a ride to a medical appointment? Do I need some help with my yard work?

It's about caring and connecting and making Sisters the friendly village we like to imagine it is.

What is your purpose? What gives your life meaning? How can you engage and contribute? How do you want to spend the afternoon of your life?

I want to live until I die.

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