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Thoughts on Aging

Posted April 2, 2013

MOWSF Blog | Senior Issues

By Baruch Gould

“Thoughts on Aging” is a column by Baruch Gould, MOWSF’s Manager of Volunteer Programs. Each month he’ll discuss issues related to seniors and aging.

As more and more people in our society live longer, it has become crucial to recognize and deal with a variety of new physical, emotional, and spiritual situations that affect the lives of those 65 and older. Typically, psychological services have focused on the variety of losses that often accompany the aging process. Much less attention has been placed on the healthy developmental processes of individuals who are in the last third of their lives.

Perhaps there is an assumption that development, growth, and change cease at some point in an individual’s life. Or perhaps we are overwhelmed by addressing the serious decline in functioning that many elderly people face. Whatever the reason, we end up ignoring the reality, which is that ongoing developmental processes continue throughout life.

As a result, we have not done a good enough job tending to the organic and healthy psychological changes that occur naturally in people as they age. For example, we too often act as if the natural urge to make meaning of one’s life ceases at a certain age — that old people do not dream — or that reveries, fantasies and day dreams become unimportant or even meaningless when one is “old.” In addition, we have polarizing attitudes towards elderly people: we either elevate them as “Wise Wo/men” or we ignore them as if, like children, they were invisible and their feelings are of no account.

We know that by sharing our inner thoughts, dreams, ideas, fears and hopes with others, we feel connected and less isolated, and that isolation at any age is detrimental to well-being. This is especially true for elderly people. While being aware of what is lost as we age, we need to be just as mindful to what is being gained, because life lives itself in us to the very end.

If you have questions or commments, you can contact Baruch at 415-343-1325 or