Elders are focused, resilient, deeply intentional and wise…
These are some of the qualities that describe a new vision for people over 60. They came up as part of an elders group that I’ve been involved with for the past year. On Saturday we brainstormed the attributes of elderhood, and you’ll see more of them sprinkled throughout this post.
Elders are eco-centric as opposed to egocentric, and are compassionate, authentic, generous, spontaneous, humble and forgiving.
Adrian Stair, the leader of our group, said she wants to define a new role for people over 60 to grow into, and break down the barriers of fear to create a society with elders feeling a sense of purpose and power.
Elders have a different view of success, are enthusiastic about exploration, don’t need to prove themselves, and have perspective on life.
Adrian dismisses words like “aging,” which suggests decline and death, and “old age,” which evokes images of loneliness, uselessness, pain and suffering. “Elders” is not a euphemism like “senior citizens,” but has roots in native culture and in expressions like “elder statesman,” she said.
Elders are activists, mentors, storytellers, philanthropists, grandparents, peacemakers and problem-solvers.
Adrian wants to create a whole new perception, in which elders have respect, purpose, responsibility and fulfillment. She said she’d like to see the image of elders move from victim to adventurer, from helplessness to power.
Elders are comfortable with and prepared for death, they are at peace with the world, they collaborate with others easily and don’t jump to conclusions.
I’ve been thinking about the nursing homes and assisted-living complexes that have served the previous generation of elders, and wondering whether they will meet our needs in 20 years. As we get older, I think we’ll want more community, more involvement, more activity, more purpose.
Elders have a sense of wonder and beauty, are able to feel and express unconditional love, and can serve as guides to younger generations.
With society obsessed with adulthood and its achievements, we face an opportunity for a revolution in our understanding of the joy that elders can feel and the contribution we can make to society, Adrian said.
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