Perth, Western Australia
What does it mean to you to age? And what does it mean to age consciously -with intention and awareness ?
To age is to experience life- with its roller-coaster of ups and downs, of love, loss, wisdom and regrets, and ideally to come to a sense of acceptance and peace within oneself, before we face death. Each of us manages ageing in our own ways, as we have faced other transitions throughout life, with a variety of genetic predispositions, life experiences and priorities.
To age consciously involves taking stock of where we are now in life, what our priorities are for the years ahead and to prepare ourselves. This includes practical matters such as finances and advance care planning of course, but the emotional, psychological and spiritual preparation is often overlooked.
Where are you now in the ageing process- what are your life circumstances?
Some of the possibilities include:
- Employed and continuing to work for pay -through choice or otherwise
- Retired or considering retirement from paid work
- Financially secure or struggling to manage
- Single or partnered- widowed, separated, and/or single for many years
- Caring for a partner with health issues
- Caring for an elderly parent/other loved one
- Having an ‘empty nest’ after many years of parenting
- Supporting adult children
- Helping care for grandchildren
- Managing chronic health issues
- Dealing with a recent illness or health challenge
- New or ongoing physical, mental or cognitive health difficulties
Depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in as we move into our latter years, the next stage will be partly determined for us. Our experiences of family and friends who have grown old will colour our expectations and impressions of what it means to age, and will also influence the fears we have.
What are your fears and concerns about ageing?
The sorts of challenges that many people experience as they age include:
- Health concerns such as hearing or cognitive impairment
- Memory loss
- Loss of mobility
- Loss of identity and purpose
- Financial insecurity
- Facing mortality with fear
- Facing death with unfinished business
- Uncertainty about the future
- Existential questions
In addition to the fears, there may also be a recognition of the opportunities that lie ahead…
What do you feel excited about at the latter stage of life?
There are many exciting opportunities in the third trimester such as:
- The opportunity to travel for an extended period
- Freedom from the responsibilities of caring for others
- Redefining oneself
- Finding new purpose and meaning
- Learning and developing new passions
- Becoming a wise elder and mentor
- Greater authenticity
Given some of the challenges and opportunities,
What do you want from the third trimester of life- what feels important to focus on as you age?
Perhaps the following:
- To deepen your self-knowledge and live more authentically
- To harvest the wisdom of your years and transmit a legacy to future generations
- To conduct a life review- gaining new clarity about your life
- Let go of old hurts and resentments in order to find freedom before end of life
- To deepen your spiritual search for meaning and purpose
- Have more fun, joy and adventure
- Work more or work less
- Start a new career or course of study
- Develop your creativity
- Live more in harmony with the natural world
- Become involved with political activism
- Find new depth in or end a long term relationship
- Start a new exercise routine
Where do I start in this process and what tools are available on the journey?
A process of reflection and examination of one’s life may include a life review, journalling, spiritual contemplation, therapy, reading, talking with peers, attending workshops- whatever your preference is for exploring and preparing for this transition.
Some suggested reading and other resources:
- Elderhood – Louise Aronson
- The inner work of age: shifting from role to soul – Connie Zweig
- Conscious living, conscious ageing – Ron Pevny
- Ageing thoughtfully- Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore
- From Age-ing to Sage-ing – Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Ronald Miller
- Man’s search for meaning- Viktor Frankl
- Older people are happier- Laura Carstensen
- Let’s end ageism- Ashton Applewhite
- The four phases of retirement – Dr Riley Moynes
- Life’s third act – Jane Fonda
If you would like to discuss and explore further what this stage of life offers you, please contact Elyse on 0414 764 663 or at firstname.lastname@example.org