Families often contact me to say their loved one is declining (dying is what many say), and they don’t know why? There’s no medical condition that technically is causing the decline. I inquire about their life, relationships, careers, friendships and finally what kind of purposeful activities or hobbies they are engaging in? Inevitably, I get the answer of “Nothing. My mom/dad does nothing and has nothing to look forward each day.” It’s the common failure to thrive scenario. It seems obvious, but it’s grossly underestimated how having no purpose significantly contributes to an early death. Humans need purpose, because without it, “who really wants to live?” Words I’ve heard uttered from the lips of aging adults.
WE NEED MORE GREAT ROLE MODELS OF AGING
I had great role models for getting older and living well when I started working at Hay House publishing at 29-years-old. At the time I had no idea what a gift I was receiving. Over the next 14 years, I saw how author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay aged and lived well. It made a profound impact on me, as I learned that getting older was not something to be sad about, but an opportunity to keep trying new things and grow as a human. I watched both continually look to new projects in their life, and never regard themselves as retired or too old to learn; or start something new.
PURPOSE DRIVES A MEANINGFUL AND JOYFUL LIFE
On one occasion I had to drop off something at Louise’s house, and I was directed into her “hobby” room where she was working on her painting. I was greeted with this giant elephant canvas that was a myriad of colors and it was huge; at least four-feet tall. It was amazing to me that she had painted this. At one point she took diction classes and puzzled, I asked why? She launched into…why to improve your overall articulation, vocal tone, pitch, etc. that’s why. One of the greatest speakers of all time was trying to improve herself in her 80s! I was dumbfounded. Another time she was learning calligraphy. This time I just kept my mouth shut and watched admiringly how she was so talented to learn such a skill. At the time I thought these were just hobbies, but later I realized she loved to learn and continue to develop all her talents regardless of age. It gave her purpose. That was the real why.
She truly embraced each birthday, and at my time with Hay House, I went to some fabulous birthday parties in honor of Louise. She never wanted to shrink away from the next birthday but celebrate another year on this planet. She was constantly planning a trip, learning a new skill, writing another book…whatever drove her passions. I think I received some of the best life lessons and advice from Louise sitting in the back of a cab (in traffic) in New York City. It took me years to see how a purposeful life brings you joy no matter the age.
MAGNETIC IN HIS 60s
Wayne Dyer was a charismatic human being and even in his 60s, the young team of Hay House, all in our 20s and 30s loved to just sit with him at dinner and listen to his stories and philosophy on life. Often, he seasoned the conversation with salty jokes, and he had a quick wit that would leave us all laughing until the tears ran down our face. Like Louise, he was always seeking the next purposeful project or adventure in his life. He dispelled myths of what someone in their 60s was supposed to be like, act like, and think like. Both Louise and Wayne proved that your quality of life is driven by the constant search for purpose.
AGING CRISIS ON THE HORIZON?
Some feel we are in an aging crisis with so many people turning 65. I think it’s really an opportunity for a whole lot of people to learn to age better, seek purpose, and live well. After nearly a decade in the senior industry, I’ve witnessed the people that embrace aging with purpose and meaning have the best resilience, and quality of life to the very end.
With so many people entering the 65-plus age bracket, this important group can once again make a huge impact on our planet and the lives of others in the last half of their lives. Just imagine all the new talents and wisdom just waiting to be shared with young people who don’t even know how life changing it will be for them. Twenty-five years ago, I hadn’t a clue. Age Well!
Written by: Jacqui Clark
Jacqui Clark is a Certified Senior Advisor™, industry-leading living-and-aging well expert, and well- respected communications specialist. Jacqui’s superpowers are relationships, negotiating, communication, and solving complex problems in the aging adult space. She frequently is a guest on radio shows, blogs, and speaks about the myriad of challenges and issues in the senior industry. She is Co-Founder of Aging Well Partners (AWP), where her role is to evangelize the importance of learning to live and age well, by guiding others to seek out local expert resources. She is the co-host of the up-and-coming podcast, Aging Well Partners. www.agingwellpartners.com