Successful Aging: Staying Connected Through the Decades

Aging well includes a lot of factors besides good genes and socialization needs to be on the list along with healthy habits and keeping your brain challenged.  You may have heard the saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime and have various people come to mind. Looking back through the decades of your life, you certainly will be able to recall many memories with those family members, friends and acquaintances.

In the The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Dan Buettner studied the world’s longest living people.  Belonging and being more involved, exploring new traditions, making family a priority, establishing rituals, and surrounding yourself with similar people were a few of the traits he observed in each of these ‘Blue Zones’.

Periodically take an inventory and think about what you are doing and how you could enlarge your experiences with families, friends, community, and organizations.  One of the benefits of  new technology options is the ability to also reconnect with people from the earlier years of your life or those who live in other parts of the country or world.

Something to consider is to assist those who are more isolated. Perhaps someone who is homebound, unable to drive or limited by their vision, hearing and mobility could become a regular part of  your circle.

One of the most fascinating parts of my work days is meeting someone who has these challenges and looking for ways for them to reconnect with others. Several years I had a client in her 90’s who had most of these limitations now. It was the commitment of many family members and an aide they hired several times a week that helped her stay connected. For decades she had been the one writing the letters and making the phone calls with updates. Her hands are no longer steady but she dictates emails that they send for her and now she is the one receiving the updates.  Everyone chips in including volunteers from her church and  she looks forward to receiving photos on Facebook and twice a month does a bible study with her sister who lives in another state using Skype.

Maybe one of the things you can to do to enlarge one of your circles would be to spend time with someone who would greatly appreciate your expertise with technology. Many older adults do not feel comfortable trying it on their own but with someone else there to set things up and sit with them through the process they can have many more people in their lives on a regular basis.

In my day, socializing was going out to a party to meet people.  Now, socializing, is taking place via networked devices.  Zach Nelson

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About Kathryn Kilpatrick

Kathryn Kilpatrick received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1968 from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in a variety of settings, primarily in Ohio, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and for decades in the area of home health care. Kathryn is president of Memory Fitness Matters (www.memoryfitnessmatters.com) and Communication Connection(www.connectionsincommunication.com). She offers memory coaching for all ages and has a geriatric consulting practice. She is a national motivational speaker and author of more than 30 products to enhance communication and connection as well as a Memory Fitness Toolkit. Kathryn brings her decades of experience as a speech-language pathologist to all those wanting to enhance their quality of life, particularly when there are communication, memory and cognitive challenges. Her websites offer information on a wide variety of topics related to elder care concerns as well as memory fitness and successful aging.
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