Aging Gracefully


Some people can’t wait for retirement – less stress, no deadlines or demands, a freer schedule, sleeping late – these are all things that sound wonderfully appealing.

But retirement can also mean a diminished social schedule. Most of us interact with others at our jobs. Projects, shared office space and personal interactions are often part of the work experience. Once that ends, sometimes friends who are still working can’t make time for us, or perhaps we no longer have much in common. We are no longer in the loop of the social activities we once enjoyed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can make all the difference in enjoying life and growing old gracefully.

As we age, we may find that we can’t keep up the way we used to. Our health may weaken, which puts us in a “different place” than others who are not facing the same challenges. Loss of a spouse or friends, health and independence all may cause stress and grief which will require adjustment.

Grief, stress and loneliness can also bring out anger and other behaviors that keep us from reaching out and keep others from seeking our company; such as being overbearing, controlling, or pushing our loved ones’ emotional buttons.

Sometimes, loneliness and stress can be dealt with easily by making a plan to keep active and engaged. Join a group with interests you enjoy – walking, crafts, music, or being active in the arts. Volunteering can put people back in social circles.

Sometimes, help is needed and seeking it can be difficult. We’ve been told to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, keep our chins up, keep up appearances, and don’t air our dirty laundry. But these old sayings don’t acknowledge the fact that each of us benefits from the knowledge and guidance of others.

Finding someone to talk to about your concerns can be very helpful. A good friend, a clergy or religious leader, or a trusted professional can help by listening and working with you. Medication is sometimes needed, so working with your doctor is important. Medicare often covers needed professional services, so ask if a therapist, counselor, or doctor can work with your Medicare coverage.

Therapists can help with other issues. Events that have happened in our lives sometimes affect us more than we like to admit. Life experiences such as teen pregnancy, divorce, physical or sexual abuse, and/or broken relationships can still haunt us. By asking for help, we can begin to address those things that continue to bother us and keep us from interacting and enjoying the people around us.

Alternatively, if failing health keeps us from being active and adds to our loneliness, there are services that can be requested. Services can include transportation, meals, home nursing as well as household help. These services can put us in touch with others and give us some of the tools needed to continue to be a part of the world around us.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It can make all the difference in enjoying life and growing old gracefully.

How to find mental health help:
• Check with your insurance company for approved providers.
• Talk to your doctor for a referral.
• Call Genesee Health System at 810.257.3740 for an assessment or for information.

To become active and to volunteer, call 2-1-1. They can link you to groups that interest you or who need volunteers. 2-1-1 can also provide lists of available community services.


About the Author: Genesee Health System (GHS) (formerly Genesee County Community Mental Health) has provided services to Genesee County residents for more than 50 years.


Comments are closed.