Reflections from Summit

How to live in the moment and squeeze the most out of life

Did you know that May is Older Americans Month? The Administration for Community Living (ACL) designates the month of May each year as a special time to celebrate and recognize what getting older looks like in the 21st Century. But you don’t need a special month to celebrate your status as an older American.

You can begin any time you want by learning to live in the moment.  The present moment. Maybe it’s called the present because it’s a gift just waiting to be unwrapped by those who learn the art of mindfulness. According to Psychology Today, mindfulness simply means “a state of active, open attention on the present.”  That’s where everything happens anyway if you stop to think about it. The present moment is the place where we are really free—free of the regrets of yesterday and also free from the worries about tomorrow.

When you practice mindfulness, life no longer passes you by while you spend your time lamenting the past or fretting about what might happen in the future. You wake up and enjoy the experiences you are having right now in this minute. Have you ever stared at a fire while the flames crackled and danced? Gazed at a beautiful sunset? Watched waves crash on a beach mesmerized by the roar of the surf? Surveyed the heavens on a starry night? Then you have been mindful.

There are ways to bring that experience to every moment of every day. A Harvard Medical School Help Guide has a few suggestions. You can practice anytime whether you are walking your dog or brushing your teeth, mowing the lawn or washing dishes, folding laundry or mopping the floor.  In other words you can be mindful no matter what else you may be doing.

Start by bringing your attention to the sensations in your body. Next, breathe in through your nose, allowing the air downward into your lower belly, letting your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out through your mouth, noticing the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation. Proceed with the task at hand slowly and deliberately. Engage your senses fully noticing each sight, touch, and sound.  If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the moment.

The benefits of mindfulness are myriad.  According to the experts, they include decreased mortality rates, increased connectedness, improved mood, and reduced healthcare costs. Mindfulness can improve emotional and physical wellbeing boosting immune functioning and lowering blood pressure. It can help ease stress, depression, anxiety, and even chronic pain, as well as improve concentration. Mindful people are generally happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. Mindfulness and its companion meditation may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other dementia by protecting the brain against anxiety and stress which can worsen symptoms.

If you stay in the present and don’t get ahead of yourself, you can live one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time and make every one of them count. On her way to sainthood, Mother Teresa said “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 

If you are ready to begin a new chapter in your life, 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.

Visit our website at 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.