Meaning And Purpose At Every Age
At Nurse Next Door we are challenging the idea that there is one way to age. We believe it doesn’t matter what age you are, what matters is how you use the body and mind you have.
If you sit all day, your bones are likely to stiffen, your muscles will begin to waste, and your mind, through lack of stimulation, will not stay sharp. On the other hand, if you keep moving, keep using your body in ways it was originally designed to function, challenging your brain and continue doing what you love, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve, at any age.
It’s so important to challenge the misconceptions around ageing and older people. As the World Health Organisation points out “there is no typical” older person” and just as we have diversity in every community, older people are no different. They come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, what is ‘older’? 25 is old to a child, 50 is old to a teenager, and 75 is young to 90 year old.
We are inspired by the women in the short film “Movement of Bones” by Julie Angel. Julie and her participants challenge the notion that we slow down as we age. And don’t be fooled into thinking these women have been moving this way all their lives. Barbara, the oldest of the group at 74, took up trapeze at 68 with no physical background and a dislike of exercise.
What these women have is a sense of purpose, a sense of utilising their body and mind to the best of its ability. Their resulting physical ability is not unusual. A 2017 study indicated that people who had a clear sense of purpose had displayed greater strength and speed than their counterparts who led a less purposeful life.
More and more psychologists concur that people with purpose tend to take better care of themselves and may be less susceptible to stress. Yes, it’s that simple. You had purpose and meaning when you were younger. You’re never “too old” to try something new or rekindle an old interest. A sense of purpose can come from the smallest of things and will be different for everyone.
A reference in The New York Times earlier this year to the work of geriatric psychiatrist Dr Gene D Cohen reminded us of what we can achieve “because of ageing”, dismissing the idea that we are limited in old age but rather are presented with new possibilities and opportunities to reinvent ourselves and find new purpose in our life.
The next time someone tells you you’re doing well “for your age” remind them you’re simply doing well, and you will continue to do so, at every age.
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ageing happily and healthily at home.
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