Older adults often rely on their families for support. However, the role of families in the care of their loved ones presents complexities. The family structure has changed over the last several decades. Families are smaller. Older adults have fewer children to rely on for care in later years. Also, families spread out geographically, making hands-on care more difficult. In addition, the economic downturn in the last decade has significantly decreased the resources available for financial support of aging loved ones.

Many caregivers put their own fiscal well-being in jeopardy by assuming the financial responsibility of others, not to mention the toll caregiving takes on emotional and physical well-being due to ongoing intensive caregiving responsibilities. This additional burden stresses many caregivers, as they struggle to keep up with working and raising their own families.

The services and programs VistaLynk provides an attempt to help families so they can better help their aging loved ones, feel less mystified and more confidently address their needs.

Why do some elders thrive in later years, while others struggle? Few would argue that getting older is stressful. Later life is often marked by significant losses, such as personal relationships, finances, health, independence, and cognitive and functional abilities (Lavretsky, 2014). The phenomenon of individuals coping and continuing to thrive in the face of multifaceted losses illustrates the concept of resilience.

Resilience allows for successful aging. However, the concept of successful aging has come under scrutiny due to its limiting definition which focuses on the absence of disease and disability (Rowe & Kahn, 2015). Can successful aging exist in the face of adversity and challenge? I believe it can.

Resilience allows individuals to respond to adversity with strength. Individuals experience aging through the various aspects of biology, psychology, sociology, and cognition. Within each of these domains, the process of resilience can manifest. As a gerontologist, I strive to foster resilience in older individuals through the development of effective social programs and services aimed at helping those who care for older adults. We can learn resilience at an early age which can help us throughout our lives, well into our older adults years.

Lavretsky, H. (2014). Resilience and aging: Research and practice. Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.

Rowe, J. W., & Kahn, R. L. (2015). Successful aging 2.0: conceptual expansions for the 21st century. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 70(4): 593-596.

Quote retrieved from 15 Wise and Inspiring Quotes About Aging in Psychology Today

“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.”
– William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

This quote could hold different meanings depending on your perspective. For some, it may mean that as you get older, you focus more on what is most important to you. This certainly is evident in the video accompaniment to “Connections: Aging with Grace” when Mary Childress Rogers explains she doesn’t want an exotic life. Rogers says being with people she loves is the most important thing to her. Making good impressions and getting dressed up and attending cocktail parties has little meaning to her whereas she used to feel obliged to do so during her younger years but not anymore.

For others, you may understand the above quote as stating that those who focus on loss are less able to use their mental powers. Positive psychology explores the link between positive thinking and immunity and its help in treating depression by seeing the positive aspects of their lives. Focusing on loss can lead to stress and negativity, which can make the body less able to respond to attacks from bacteria and viruses, resulting in an increase in infections. Having a positive outlook on life also equips people better for dealing with serious illness. Optimists will have better physical and psychological well-being and better skills for coping with stress and hardship.

Third, to some, the above quote may mean that when you focus on your strengths rather than weaknesses, you’re more able to take advantage of your mental powers, even if they’re not quite what they were when you were younger. This occurs in much the same way positive thinking helps a person.

Bottom line is we can continue to cultivate a good life, and a healthy mind and body as we age and help others do the same.