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Putting a positive spin on the aging process

Q:  During a recent trip I made a brief stop at an Interstate Rest Area. There was heavy traffic and the parking lot was crowded. After leaving the facilities, I hesitated for a moment because I realized I hadn’t taken notice of which aisle I had parked in (I was in a hurry to get to the restroom). A young woman asked if I needed help getting across the road. I am sure she was just being polite and kind, so I thanked her and said I was fine. However, I was actually irritated by the time I got back to my car. This wasn’t the first time I this. Just because someone may be of a certain age, it doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of being independent. I wish the younger generation wouldn’t automatically assume so. Is there any way to combat this?

A:   You don’t know for sure the stranger’s motive in asking if you needed help. She may have noticed look of confusion on your face and was only trying to be helpful. In her defense, I hope she was acting out of concern and not making judgements based on your age. This young woman is the type of person you would want around if there was an occasion when you actually do need help. On the flip side, this country still needs more progress made regarding ageism. Those of us who work in aging services, for all or most of our careers, have seen improvements and will continue to put a more positive spin on the aging process.

May is Older Americans Month and each year, the Administration on Community Living leads the country in celebrating Older Americans. The theme this year is Engage at Every Age and is an important message, not only to older adults, but to everyone that “you are never too old to take part in activities that can enrich your physical, mental and emotional well-being”. We encouraged everyone to take an active role in maintaining a healthy body by exercising, eating well balanced meals; following their doctor’s medical advice; engaging in activities to keep your brain functioning at maximum capacity; remaining socially active with friends and family and continuing to be involved in your community.

Our agency is a prime example of how older adults provide a vital service through volunteerism to others their own age. Many of our programs would not reach the vast number of consumers if it were not for our older volunteers. They counsel individuals regarding health care and prescription drug plans; assist with packing and distributing food through our Brown Bag Program; help older adults with balancing their checkbooks and paying their bills on time. Many participate as Ombudsmen in long term care facilities. The volunteers benefit as much as those they are assisting and are positive role models, proving to others, they still have a lot to offer regardless of age.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our staff is available for a no-cost consultation, set up at your convenience, to help guide you through your caregiving experience. For more details or to schedule an appointment, please call 800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Please direct your correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., Age Information Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.