Growing Old

I’ve lived in a senior retirement community for over a year now. Our oldest resident is over 100, and many are in their eighties and nineties. Although canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are common, a surprising number of my friends here walk unassisted—not only within the building but also around the neighborhood. Most of us have medical conditions of some kind, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to enjoy life.

Young people don’t expect to grow old. In our youth, we understand in theory that everyone either grows old or dies young, but somehow it doesn’t seem real to us. Now all these years later, we’re often of two minds: on one hand, the diminished capabilities of our bodies remind us that we are, in fact, old. On the other hand, in our minds, we may feel like we’re just reaching adulthood or in the prime of life.

How happy we are in the later years of life can often be predicted by how happy we were when we were younger. I have many reasons to be happy: loving family members (my son and daughter-in-law, siblings and their families), great friends (old friends from years past and new friends here in the facility), faith and church (including prayer groups at my church and in the retirement community), good medical care (doctors and nurses who come to my apartment), wonderful services (excellent housekeeping, meals, and activities), and much more.

However, some people who have just as many things to be thankful for as I do are not happy. They don’t get along with family, have few friends, don’t practice a religious faith, focus on their medical problems rather than their good care, complain about just about everything. If we looked back through their life, chances are they weren’t as happy earlier in life as their circumstances would seem to indicate.

Of course, some older people have experienced great tragedy and have turned sad and bitter as a result. I am sympathetic to their situations, but for their sakes, I wish they would try to find something to be happy about. The “golden years” can truly be golden if we make the best of them and choose to be happy regardless of our circumstances. If you are estranged from loved ones, seek reconciliation. If you don’t have friends, take the initiative to make some. If you have problems, seek help.

You’ll enjoy old age much more if you choose to be happy. Joy keeps you healthier and helps you feel younger.

A joyful heart is good medicine,

    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

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