Sure, it is true that getting old “ain’t for sissies” as Bette Davis famously put it. There are a myriad of challenges that confront us. Nobody would argue that! We know what those challenges are – all kinds of changes, losses of various sorts from little things to profound ones, aches and pains, the gamut.
But, you can also thrive in later years. It’s about your mindset, your emotional and spiritual practices and your strong support network. The kids called support networks these days, their “posse”. Your posse can be made up of old and new friends, your peers, support group members, family, pets, counselors, trusted doctors and spiritual advisors.
Generally, people like you have an assortment of healthy, tried-and-true coping skills that have gotten you this far in your life. Perhaps now, however, you are encountering an accumulation of situations that tax those skills. It may be time to remember your old skills and to learn new ones. It may likely be time as well to rethink your life’s purpose. Purpose is key to keeping your mood up and your heart content.
What stands in the way? Well, too many times, that old Shame rears its head and tells you that you ought to be able to figure this out on your own, that you ought to be able to just “tough it out” and do it alone or else you’re weak. You can’t burden your children so what to do? As the blue box here says, don’t keep it bottled up inside!
What people often don’t realize is that you are not alone in feeling challenged, stressed, confused, overwhelmed or anxious. These feelings surface when we are going through new phases and transitions in our lives. It’s during these times that it becomes so important to realize you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are many practices and tips for how to increase your enjoyment of life in older years.
The important thing is to not give up and figure that just depression goes with the territory. That may be what society tells you, it might be the prevailing attitude. But it is not true. Reach out for help. Counseling and support can turn your life around and help you reclaim your confidence, solid footing and peace of mind. Isn’t it worth a try? What have you got to lose!
Whistlestop is Marin County’s largest and oldest senior service agency. 2014 marks Whistlestop’s 60th anniversary. In 1954, a grass roots community group decided to band together to make sure their elders were not forgotten. This was before the time of senior centers, considerations for people with disabilities, or specialized transportation. They started the Marin Senior Coordinating Council (aka Whistlestop), a non-profit agency dedicated to providing creative programming, helpful advice and administrative services to other organizations serving seniors. Over time, Whistlestop has grown to become the primary local provider of:
- paratransit and subsidized transportation services for older and/or disabled citizens in Marin (60 vehicles, 500 trips a day plus subsidized taxi vouchers)
- Meals on Wheels (to over 250 homebound adults each week)
- a rapidly expanding range of classes, support groups and events in the Active Aging Center
- the hoppin’ Jackson Cafe – a collaboration with Homeward Bound of Marin’s Fresh Starts Culinary Academy. Delicious meals are prepared by culinary students and served by our awesome Whistlestop volunteers.
Whistlestop is where I served one of my Counseling Psychology internships while in graduate school. I was blessed to be able to help facilitate the long-running and popular Seniors Circle Wednesday drop-in support group which brought me to Whistlestop every week. Once that began, I saw firsthand what a tremendous resource Whistlestop is for Marin seniors and also what potential it has to do more.
Now Whistlestop is about to undertake an expansion campaign called Whistlestop 2.0 to provide even more rides, meals and services, plus some affordable apartments in a state of the art, beautiful living center. With Whistlestop’s prime location near shops, cafes, theaters and even the soon to be completed Smart Train, and with Marin being the fastest aging county in California, the timing of this project couldn’t be better!
I am proud to serve as an Executive on Whistlestop’s Board of Directors. See announcement in the newsletter below. Whistlestop Express March 2014. To kick-off our fundraising campaign and to celebrate our 60th Anniversary we are holding a huge party at Rancho Nicasio on September 28th, 2014. Join us!
As Mill Valley Commissioner on the Marin County Commission on Aging, in October 2009 I presented my annual report to the Mayor and City Council members on the status for baby boomers and older adults living in Mill Valley. Here is a link to my report presentation notes – I hope you will find it helpful to give you an idea of some of the opportunities and challenges for older people in Mill Valley as of autumn, 2009. Some things have changed – statistics, numbers, contact information perhaps, so do note that this report is from 2009. Older Adults in Mill Valley
I will be posting articles and links more frequently that I hope will be useful and of interest to Marin baby boomers and older adults.
Note: As a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, I do not give medical advice. I do, however, point out situations where it might be a very good idea to consult with your MD. Please feel free to write to me and ask me to address any topics you want to suggest in future blog posts. Best wishes, Nancy