What does “Aging with grace” mean to you?
To help me get a sense of what this term really means, I surveyed 24 people of all ages (most aged 50-69) and asked them to define “Aging with grace.” I enjoyed reading through the responses and I’d like to thank everyone who participated. I’d like to share with you what I learned, and I will also include my own thoughts on the subject.
“Grace is a quality that many aspire to, but I think in the context of today’s society, what defines grace is somewhat elusive.” – Survey respondent, 49 or under
For the most part, aging with grace is one’s ability to accept growing older and all the changes that come with it. We could almost change the term to, “Aging with Acceptance.” Aging (or the passing of the years) brings many changes to our appearance and abilities (physically, mentally); it also brings changes to the world and our lives. Aging with grace means we are able to accept, adapt and accommodate these changes.
The attitude we carry into our later years will also influence our ability to age with grace.
People who are aging gracefully…
- accept aging
- are happy
- are confident
- are wise
- live a healthy and active lifestyle
Regarding “healthy” lifestyle — as we age, our risk for developing age-related illnesses and diseases increases. I think it is important that even if we develop health conditions, we take care of ourselves and try to recover quickly or learn how to live well with chronic illness. I know many people who are aging with grace despite chronic illnesses. It all comes down to attitude. For example, does arthritis become who you are or is it just something you need to live with and manage?
“Grace is an inside job with outside effects.” – Survey respondent, 49 or under
If we are able to practice self-love as we age, by “nurturing our bodies and minds,” (Survey respondent, 50-69) we tend to be happier and more at peace. It helps us improve our confidence, and live a life that is in line with our true and authentic selves. As we become more compassionate about ourselves we will become more compassionate about others. We can continue to be “gracious to others, and make people feel good”, no matter what their age (Survey respondent, 50-69).
“Aging with grace means aging with confidence, valuing the experience, knowledge and wisdom that comes with age, and rising above a youth-oriented culture. – Survey respondent, 50-69
Harnessing the wisdom and personal power that comes with age helps us age with confidence. There is great significance in the realization of the value of knowledge and experience gained from years lived. Only then are we able to choose to live a life designed and driven by our own personal values. We realize that we are responsible for our own lives and decisions are made with the wisdom that comes with age and the personal power that we embrace and celebrate.
“Allowing the power and wisdom of aging to be apparent in one’s presence – including the ability to break stereotypes of aging.” – Survey respondent, 50-69
Being present in the moment in the here-and-now, while focusing on the good things in our life will help us live and age with gratitude. Practicing mindfulness will help us age with grace.
The ability to re-frame our challenges and limitations can help improve our outlook and overall attitude. Being resilient in the face of adversity will also help us a great deal.
Living a conscious life, knowing that we have a finite time here on earth, enables us to focus on living a life that honours our individual values and goals.
I can also tell you what aging with grace IS NOT. It is not about complaining – such as “moaning upon standing” or “whining about wearing reading glasses.” Aging with grace is “void of anger, regrets and baggage from the past.”
The more we learn to accept aging as a normal lifelong process, make peace with it (not war), the happier and more confident we will be.
I’ll leave you with this: Only one person over 70 answered the survey, and gave me something to laugh about. When asked, “How would you define aging with grace?” the answer was:
“I don’t know anyone named Grace, but, I am aging.”
The survey will remain open for a few more weeks, so if you’d like to give me your definition of Aging with Grace, please go to this survey and answer three quick questions. Thanks!
Have your say – please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
Angela G. Gentile
Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker who specializes in aging. She has helped hundreds of people who are struggling with the challenges aging can bring. Angela is passionate about challenging ageist myths and stereotypes and exploring what it means to age well. She considers herself a realistic optimist but she still can’t tell her left from her right. Find out more at http://www.angelaggentile.com.