If I were to ask you today, How do you envision yourself aging?

What would be your response?
You may express a vision of yourself as healthy, happy, and content, or you might refrain from answering altogether due to various reasons, such as current poor health, fear of the unknown, or anticipation of a future resembling that of your parents. Whatever your perspective, I encourage you to reflect on the wisdom of noted psychologist Virginia Satir, who wrote, “Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”

With this insight in mind, let us explore how experts in the field of aging advise us to navigate life successfully.

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  1. Recognize and Understand Emotional Preparedness: Acknowledge that being emotionally prepared for change and transition significantly influences health and well-being positively.
  2. Take Responsibility for Healthy Choices: Understand that making healthy choices is a personal responsibility, and failing to do so forfeits this right.
  3. Review Communication Skills: Recognize the importance of effective communication in reducing personal stress, anxiety, and frustration, and fostering healthier relationships and positive experiences. Improving communication skills involves setting and communicating personal boundaries, which demonstrate self-respect and honesty.
    • Identify your limits and articulate them.
    • Understand that setting limits is a form of self-respect, honesty, and consideration for others.
    • Communicate your abilities and limitations to facilitate planning and problem-solving.
    • Be flexible and adjust your limits as needed based on changing priorities and circumstances.
  4. Make Warranted Changes: Evaluate your current and future needs, considering aspects such as:
    • Identifying your biggest concerns now and for the future.
    • Assessing adjustments needed to make your home more “age-friendly” and support independence.
    • Managing activities of daily living, including nutrition, hygiene, and social engagement.
    • Ensuring financial adequacy for healthcare needs and considering investment revisions.
    • Assessing satisfaction with healthcare providers and ensuring accurate communication.
    • Consulting with your doctor regarding medication review and potential adjustments.
    • Developing a plan for emergency medical needs or hospitalization, including necessary legal documents.
    • Reflecting on your legacy and discussing your wishes with loved ones.

In conclusion, embrace self-reflection positively, addressing fears and unfinished business while recognizing the importance of planning for the future. Open dialogue about concerns does not make them inevitable, while ignoring them leaves you unprepared. Taking control of your choices today significantly impacts your future well-being and ability to age gracefully.

Kathy Faenzi PhotoKathy C. Faenzi MA is a Clinical Gerontologist and Senior Care Consultant based in San Mateo, CA.

JC Spicer, M.Ed. is a Freelance Social Science Writer and Developmental Editor based in the U.K.