REFLECTIONS FROM SUMMIT: Getting older? What does it really mean?

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This is the first in a series of columns we are excited to present for another year from the Summit of Uptown called REFLECTIONS FROM SUMMIT.
Getting older? What does it really mean?
There is a difference between living for a long time and getting old. It’s actually all in the way you look at it. For example, in October 1874, when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was well into senior citizen status-if they even had such a designation in those days – he was asked to write a poem for the fiftieth anniversary of his college graduation. Declining at first, he was struck by inspiration and penned the poem, Morituri Salutamus: Poem for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Class of 1825 in Bowdoin College, which concludes with these lines:
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
And indeed the wisest among us today echo that same sentiment because although the gifts our later years bring us may not be the same as those we experienced in our younger days, we now have the time and perspective-and the wisdom-to appreciate them.
Remember when you were younger? First, you looked forward to riding your bike around the block by yourself, then to learning to drive a car, then to get your first job. The point is you were always looking forward to something. When did that stop? It stopped when gerascophobia-the abnormal or persistent fear of growing old-invaded our culture. In a world that is fixated on youth, it’s no wonder that some older folks begin to believe that the best years of their lives are behind them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s a saying in psychology that if you change your thinking, you change your life. By changing the way you think about aging, you may get older, but you will never be old. When we look forward to the future, we are ready not only to meet the challenges that it may bring but also to bask in those the moments of happiness that come along the way. Here are some ideas to think about as you set out on your own adventure.
First of all, stay connected to others whether they are family or friends. If you haven’t heard from someone for a while, call them or plan a visit. Relationships are the cushion that helps us withstand the bumps along the way. Second, find a way to make a difference in someone else’s life-whether though volunteering, friendship or just a simple smile. When you make a difference, you start a ripple that can have far-reaching effects that go out in ever-widening circles. Third, make sure you exercise-not just your body, but also your mind. Whether you walk in the woods or do chair exercises, it’s important to keep moving. And as important as it is to exercise the body, it’s equally important to keep your mind supple and alive through creative outlets such as art, writing, gardening or crafts that could even leave a legacy for future generations. And finally, when you think about getting older, you may want to reflect on the fact that it is a privilege that many are denied.
If the time has come to consider a change in your living arrangements or the living arrangements for someone you love, you may want to consider a visit to Summit of Uptown, a senior living community in Park Ridge. A premier retirement destination-already well-known throughout the area for offering the best of Independent Living and personalized Assisted Living-Summit has launched the new Memory Care Neighborhood specializing in caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments.  After 33 years of providing services to our senior population, Summit looks forward to this new chapter in its history where it will now provide a continuum of care that will meet the needs of our seniors at all levels of care.
To visit the Summit of Uptown website click here or call 847-825-1161 to find out more about programs, activities, services, and amenities at Summit of Uptown, which has been providing quality services for seniors for more than three decades.