Imagine Ahead to Make Aging Easier

As you may already know, JFCS covers an entire realm of services for older adults; from counseling to guardianship to food assistance, through its affiliation with AgeWell Pittsburgh and more.

But here’s some food for thought: Matthias Hollwich has just written a book that asks if we can make aging easier before we get there. New Aging: Live Smarter Now to Live Better Forever offers the theory that how we feel about the future can influence how we experience it. So it might be less stressful if we think about it now and lay some groundwork, from our physical space (he’s an architect) to our habits to our relationships. Hollwich wrote the book from his 40-ish perspective, but we can think ahead at any age, can’t we?
Here are just a few of his ideas about making aging easier, and how we can get started:
• Treat aging more like you might any trip to a new land. What fascinating things might you discover? Start today: go someplace or do something you’ve never done before.
• Get up and out: It gets easier to stay home—but don’t. Create new experiences and keep touch with the world: get some exercise! Start today: make a list of reasons to go out. Go forth.
• Keep your peeps: don’t let life’s chores and worries crowd out the people in your life. There’s always time for some personal outreach. Start now: call or arrange to meet up with somebody you’ve been meaning to connect with.
• Simplify: some of us are happy to lighten up and let go. Others hold on to happiness and good memories through stuff. If you are the former, pass on the important things to the important people, and donate the excess. Less to tote, less to dust. If you are the latter, think about how your stuff might really help somebody in need, or maybe that your garage sale will finance your next adventure. Start now: take one item that you have not used or worn in a year and part with it. Repeat.
• Keep learning: now that you don’t have to study, you can do it just for fun. Research says the brain stays sharper longer only if you learn new things. Start now: take a free class, download a language app, or watch a “how-to” YouTube video and go fix something (start small!).
• Eat your vegetables: eating healthier is a good idea at any age. Explore the farmers markets. A potluck with a healthy theme lightens the work. Start now: Google your favorite food and find a healthier way to prepare it.
• Go digital: you are not too old to learn to use digital devices. Technology offers shopping, information, books, contact with others and much more. Your grandchildren can teach you; create great family time. Start now: Explore the camera on your smartphone; go take some pictures. If you are device-less, use the computers at the library – Google something!
As an architect, Hollwich also promotes his “New Aging” on bigger scale: age-friendly living spaces, city planning, transportation, safety and community. Hollwich is saying we don’t have to equate aging only with loss. He’s turning the concept of “plan ahead” into “imagine ahead,” hoping that we will get more enjoyment out of these precious years.
Remember, Hollwich started at 40, but we can all imagine and improve our senior years at any age. JF&CS is a resource than can help you access a wide array of services that assist seniors, so that you can make these precious years fulfilling. If you need some help locating or accessing services, please call Maxine Horn, Information & Referral Specialist for AgeWell Pittsburgh (412-586-5962) or email her.

As the architect says: “Aging is a gift that we receive with life.” Let’s all make the most of it – starting now!