Depending on cultural and personal philosophy, ageing can be seen as an undesirable phenomenon, reducing beauty and bringing one closer to death; or as an accumulation of wisdom, mark of survival and a status worthy of respect.
Whereas in the eastern world, traditionally, elders are seen as wise and as wisdom keepers, very often in the western world ageing leaves one with a feeling of loneliness and social uselessness resulting in low self-esteem. This may result in bitterness, complaining and resignation. Thus many elders start living in the past with repetitious stories and positions inconsistent with earlier life.
In this Blob, it slowly gets increasingly difficult to avoid the dependence on additional assistance due to increased lack in mobility (arthritis, inability to drive, etc). At the same time, as elders start to lose people they have been close to, the desire to spend time with family increases. Nevertheless, health allowing, the majority of elders in this Blob still prefer to live on their own instead of being dependent on someone.
Elders in this Blob vary widely in their cognitive abilities. Many remain quite sharp throughout these years, for others, the wear-and-tear of high blood pressure, diabetes, heavy alcohol use, and other health problems will have taken a toll on memory and general cognitive ability. People who develop dementia typically begin to show signs of the disorder in their mid-to late-70s. This often makes them more susceptible to risk of scams or victims of crime.
How well an elder copes with stress situations depends on various factors such as social support and relationships, religion and spirituality, active engagement with life and having the feeling of being in control. Another factor that correlates with a higher level of well-being is a positive self-perception of ones own health. Through social comparison, the older people get, the more they may consider themselves in better health than their same-aged peers, thus even though objective health may worsen with age, subjective health may remain relatively stable. This is often stated as the paradox of ageing. Lynne Segal, a British author, spoke about this with The Economist in a very interesting talk that can be viewed here.
Physically, the most common medical concerns during older adulthood are arthritis and rheumatism, cancer, cataracts of the eyes, dental problems, diabetes, hearing and vision problems, heart disease, hypertension, and orthopedic injuries. The various medical issues may have an affect on each other e.g. hearing loss may be enhanced due to high blood pressure and diabetes (hearing aids, that are said to improve hearing by up to 50%, are a common tool for this age group). As the body ages, muscle bulk and strength declines, especially after the age of 70. There is a general reduction in height and the onset of frailty makes falls and injuries serious.
Mentally, nerve cells may lose some of their receptors for messages and blood-flow to the brain decreases. Thus people in this Blob may react and do tasks somewhat more slowly, but given time, they do these things accurately. The mental problems typically encountered by older adults are depression, anxiety and dementia
Reflection and contemplation can be used as invaluable tools for successful ageing. By searching deeply within for inner strength and wisdom it is possible to find peace thus enabling one to re-contextualize mistakes and failures instead of having regrets.
Click here for Blob 14: Reconciled Elder
Understand why the 7-year life stages are outdated in this Blog.
RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Aging (Life Cycle) by World Heritage Encyclopedia
Your memory Timeline by Johns Hopkins Health Alert for Maturity Matters
From Age-ing to Sage-ing: A Revolutionary Approach to Growing Older by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi