Aging in Place: February 2024

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I saw a FaceBook post, “Retirement is not for Wimps!” How about “Aging is not for Wimps!?” Either way, it’s true for most of us, I bet. I can personally attest to both and honestly say I was a wimp. I worked for over 50 years, and one day, I stopped. Then, I had to admit I was aging. Both were hard and not easy to navigate. I was a wimp! It took about a year to stand up and shout, “I’m not a wimp.” Then, a new word entered my vocabulary – Ageism. 

The definition of Ageism – this word refers to the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) towards others or oneself based on age. I knew my life had meaning and value, at least to me – raising a family, a career, volunteering, wisdom, experiences good and bad, laughter and tears, good health and sometimes not so good, purpose, productivity, contributions, grace. But why didn’t others see that?  

I found out that Ageism is real. So real in fact, I felt sucker punched. I decided to stand up and fight instead of being knocked down. Do not insult me, do not minimalize me, do not disrespect me, do not undervalue me, do not dismiss me. Actually, do not do these things to anyone, any age, not just me. You can acknowledge the graying hair and wrinkles, a slower step, a louder TV, a bit of forgetfulness. It’s called Aging – we are all aging – there is no cure for aging. It happens. Aging isn’t the problem. Ageism is the problem. And to be clear, Ageism is not just a problem for older adults; other age groups can be the target of this prejudice at various times, too. 

Ageism is a hurtful, insulting and uninformed type of discrimination. Older adults are a vital and important part of society. They make countless contributions and represent a meaningful and growing segment of the population. By the year 2030, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. Think about that – 2030 is really not that far away.

How do you combat Ageism?

Are you stuck in your ways? Embrace change and be flexible. This doesn’t mean changing who you are. It means being open to new experiences and new possibilities and that age doesn’t equate to stagnation.

Are you neglecting self-care? We tend to put ourselves last on the self-care list which can lead to a decline in our overall well-being. When you take care of yourself, you are better positioned to take care of others. Your needs are important too, and add years to your life.

Do you communicate your value? Society often equates youth with value, overlooking the wisdom and experience that comes with age. Be your own advocate and showcase your unique strengths and insights. Gracefully share your experiences, knowledge, skills and accomplishments, big and small, and you will help others see the unique contributions you offer.

Are you forgetting to laugh? Laughter is truly the best medicine and keeping our sense of humor can make all the difference as we age. Laughter brings people together, breaks down barriers and fosters connections. So, embrace your silliness, find joy in little things and don’t be afraid to share a hearty laugh. It’s not only good for your soul but also a great way to invite appreciation from those around you. Who doesn’t love being around someone who lightens up their day?

Do you appreciate yourself? When you appreciate yourself, you set the standard for how others should treat and appreciate you. Plus, it boosts your self-esteem, happiness and overall well-being. Treat yourself with kindness and respect because, ultimately, you deserve to be appreciated and that starts with you. 

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan

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Susan Noack has lived in Tualatin for 15 years. Before retirement, she was a development director/event planner for non-profits. Now as an “Aging in Place” senior, her passion is being an advocate for seniors and giving back to the community. She is a member of both the Meals on Wheels People and Juanita Pohl Center advisory committees and chair the Tualatin Area Aging Task Force committee.