“Positive ageing is a term used to describe the process of maintaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in life as you age” (The Australian Psychological Society).
Some might be ageing wonderfully and find no need for definitions. For the rest of us, social concepts such as this can spark us to use it or lose it – our minds, bodies, and our dreams.
Genuinely holding positive attitudes requires bravely sitting with shadows. We keep fit and healthy to the best of our changing abilities. We engage fully in life and that includes facing up to all the inevitable losses. Living well requires resilience.
There are many creative ways to express positive ageing in this region. The astonishing physical environment of the Otways is a great backdrop; nature constantly changing and adapting, as we must, to survive and thrive. Thriving requires connectedness to others, perhaps symbolised in the slight hand-raised wave at the wheel when neighbours and strangers pass each other on country roads.
All around us are incredible stories of living with bravery and gusto. They include bushfire survival, rebuilding and moving across different locations. Many can share incredible birthing stories. Going off or sending others to war, some never to return. Saying “goodbye” to what are sometimes lifelong partnership and friendships of sixty plus years, or cherishing memories of relationships cut short by time.
Research has shown it is often connection and relationship to others that support longevity. Longevity entails being confronted by losses. Recognition and sharing of these moments are poignant but often difficult. There is a recent world-wide phenomenon called Death Cafes, where people come together to talk about loss and “make the most of their finite lives” (deathcafe.com). On social media people are expressing things they need to and finding support through public, closed and secret spaces and groups. At different times we crave comforting, healing and finding ways to live with our losses, and in doing so, connect to others and the deeper parts of ourselves.
On the fifth anniversary of her son’s passing, a friend recently told me that for her it is not getting easier; time has not healed. Positive ageing involves sharing our unique stories. This takes courage. Let’s here in the Otways remember to make these spaces for ourselves and others. Don’t forget to wave.
Suzanne Frydman http://www.relaxcommunications.com.au