Grow Old Along With Me: The Best Is Yet To Come (Part B) by Bernie Siegel, MD

To survive, we all need to have a sense of meaning in our lives, and express our emotions, including anger, when we are not treated with respect.

We need to be able to: make our own therapeutic choices, ask for help when we need it, respond in our feelings when making choices, maintain an authentic life, not just a role, and say no to what we do not want to do.

Basically, we need to find our way of expressing our love while keeping a childlike sense of humor. The answers relate to serving the world in our unique way rather than a way imposed by others.

Now, let me share some of the things I have learned from ninety year olds. One I shall never forget is a woman who, in her nineties developed breast cancer and gall stones. She was quite upset with God for doing this to her at her age but accepted the surgery. I asked her to join our cancer support group because she had lessons to teach us about survival behavior. One day when everyone in the group was caught up in their fears, I turned to her for help and asked, “What are you afraid of?” After several minutes of silence she sat up and said, “Oh, I know… driving on the parkway at night.” That resolved everyone’s issue as we went from fear to laughter.

I have also learned to not keep family problems from aging parents. When I would call my ninety year old mother and ask her how she was, she would tell me her problems with one exception. The exception was if a family member had a problem. Then she was focused on advising and assisting them to overcome their problem and move on in life. This gave her a sense of meaning and helped her to feel healthy, too.

So, use the wisdom of the aged, and let them be your guide. Not only does it help you, but it also helps them in a meaningful way.

Seniors have the wisdom to save the world, if we let them. We learned from a recent blog article that as we age, we tend to build on our crystallized intelligence. That is, stored knowledge, skills, and experience… intelligence that can make a difference in the world. There is so much that our Seniors can do. Let them be your guide.

Do you have any stories about how your parents or other Senior friends have demonstrated their wisdom to help others? Please share with us.

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