For Jeni on her 65th birthday. I have known her via the internet since 2006 and although we have never met I consider her a dear friend. So dear friend you have lots before you. It was because of your birthday I started researching aging and I am only three years behind you anyway. I found this inspiring I hope you and others will too.
Many of the books about life after age 60 emphasize how to hold on to youth as aging is viewed as a decline, a series of losses - until you reach the ultimate loss - the loss of life itself. This view of life after age 50 is embedded in much of the current Western literature. In western culture we do not honour the elderly as many other cultures do, especially since our culture rewards economic contribution and youth, and considers that the aging have nothing to offer. The affects of aging may be inevitable, but these do not lessen a person’s value. In contemporary Western culture, the young are considered more valuable than the elderly .
This is at best a false view of human development after age 60 and at worst it is degrading to those in the last third of their lives
There is an alternative to this view that holds that there are at least three stages of human development: Childhood, adulthood and elderhood and that the goal of human existence is progressive growth though these three stages in order that at the end of life one is ready to move on because life has been lived fully and completely as child, adult and elder.
It is not considered a loss for a child to move into adulthood but only the losses that an adult faces when moving into elderhood are mourned. Do not allow yourself to believe that aging is any more about losses than was the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Childhood and adulthood have been researched and written about at length but elderhood the third major stage of human development has almost nothing written about it.
In the developed world most people are so focused on adulthood, that is, adult tasks, powers and responsibilities that they give little thought to the next stage of human development. Some researchers believe that one of the reasons why many adults fear aging is because they have no idea that there is a another developmental stage beyond adulthood. Freedom is one of the most important aspects of the third stage of human development. Adulthood may be characterized by accomplishment and responsibility but we are taught there is little positive about growing old.
Psychologists have said that there are more individuals in a room full of eighty year olds than in a room full of 50 year olds. Perhaps the main use of this new freedom in our older years is to become who we truly are - the person that we were made to be. In fact this becoming who you 'truly are' could be one of the great tasks at this stage of your life.
- Proverbs 16:31: Gray hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained by a righteous life.
- Leviticus 19:32: Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.
- Job 12:12: Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
- Psalm 92:15: They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright.
- 2 Corinthians 4:16: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
- Ruth 4:15: He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.