Ageing brings change but doesn’t mean we do not want to do new things, nor that we might not develop new goals and dreams. AARP, where I am currently volunteering, has put together an initiative called ‘life reimagined’. The project aims to help turn people’s goals and dreams into real possibilities through online and offline programmes, experiences, resources and services that help people adapt to their new life phase and live their best lives. It got me thinking about the nature of ageing and change.
Having recently married and moved to the USA I am in the land of new. New husband, new country, new friends; even buying a pint of milk here can be a challenge! Yes I miss my family and friends and occasionally get fed up with navigating new situations – don’t even get me started on my first post office visit! But it’s fun too.
A colleague at AARP was telling me this week that her last child had just left home and she was now an ‘empty nester’. We commiserated together. For different reasons we are both experiencing the fears and excitement of change.
As we go through life and grow older change is inevitable. It brings many new things; new roles as parents, as grandparents, as students and then workers (and back again) as volunteers, as husbands, partners and wives, as immigrants and emigrants.
Not all change is unwelcome, sometimes it comes because we are fulfilling old dreams or developing whole new goals. Even bereavement, difficult as it is, can be the start of new and positive times. Yes, some people are at home and alone and yes we need to reach out to them – but others are running marathons or skydiving; learning to play the piano or teaching children to read. My colleague above for example, was looking forward to joining a singing group as well as missing her children.
When my grandmother was widowed at 81 she packed her things and moved in with my parents without looking back. Many people assumed it would be to slowly end her days. On the contrary, many afternoons find her playing puzzles with her favourite great-grandson and now she is planning to redecorate her flat (at the top of the house). Now 94, she may have written a will and planned her funeral but she is also picking out fabrics and watching a fourth generation grow up.
Life is all about change. Isn’t it time to see that as a good thing?
For more information on the Life Reimagined project go here: http://lifereimagined.aarp.org/