If you are like me, you are bombarded every day with another piece of information about aging. For example, the website http://www.getold.com questions, "Have a fear of getting old (FOGO)?" followed by the declaration that "everyone has a #FOGO." The writers follow that with this sage advice without particulars: "Spend less time worrying about getting old so you can actually enjoy it."
Do you have a FOGO? Well, you don't have to worry about getting old. A Wall Street Journal article, dated Nov. 30, 2014, and written by Anne Tergesen, explains "Why Everything You Think About Aging May Be Wrong." Tergesen sets out to demonstrate the opposite of "Everyone knows that as we age, our minds and bodies decline — and life inevitably becomes less satisfying and enjoyable" by declaring that researchers are finding just the opposite. I commend the article to you.
We can keep FOGO at bay — that's the good news. How we do that depends upon each of us. When I look around at the group of older adults with whom I live and associate, I am impressed that their lives are being fulfilled. Many are enjoying friendships as they never have before during their working lives because now they can be together more often. There's a key to staving off loneliness!
While their conversations do not shy away from health issues and world horrors, they do not dwell on these things. They have a fair amount of history on which to draw and seem to take the catastrophic events with some perspective that younger people may not have.
When we worked we concentrated on making a living and being a success. Perhaps now we can indulge in activities and recreation; now we can do those things that bring us into closer contact with friends and loved ones.
Perhaps the best FOGO fighter, however, is involvement in organizations that give life meaning and that help others. I know a woman who devotes hours to sitting with hospice patients to help them face the end of life with dignity. I know many others who volunteer in many capacities to see that our community is a better place for all to live, young and old alike.
When we determine what is of value to us as we age, we need not have a fear of getting old. As Einstein once said, "Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value."
Obviously, there are people who don't age well — perhaps attributable to poor health, money problems, and a myriad of other circumstances. But for people who are aging well, look at what they value. They have not chosen loneliness or the feeling of not being needed; rather, they have seized the opportunity to be of value in our world.
Let those who are younger have their FOGO, and let us strive to be of value in our place in the world.
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Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster.