May is Older Adults Month, and it’s a good time to remind ourselves to celebrate this wonderful, dynamic, creative stage of life. Indeed, I hope you can follow the advice of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who urged us not to just live through aging, but to enjoy it. He said that the greatest gifts of aging are discovery and wisdom that are not possible in youth.
Pioneering psychiatrist Gene Cohen also encouraged us to see the potential in our older adulthood. He said that to age well, we must use this time to grow and reflect and make meaning. He said that creative engagement is the key to a happy older adulthood, and he encouraged us to do things like paint, sing, write, and sculpt. He said that older adults have something called “developmental intelligence” – advanced thinking that we earn through many years of living. He said older brains aren't diminished, just different, and in some ways more powerful than when they were younger.
Jung and Cohen did not ignore the difficult realities of aging, but they implored us to put those realities into context and see them as only part of a complicated and often beautiful experience.
I encourage everyone to try on this hopeful view of aging and make it fit. As the saying goes, “aging” really is just another word for “living” – living fully, creatively, meaningfully, and joyfully. At the Denver Public Library, we embrace aging and provide the information and programs you need to have a wonderful older adulthood. And if you face difficulties as you age, we are here to assist you with resources to meet those challenges. We also recognize and honor the impact of one’s background and identity on the experience of aging.
Want to learn more about the potential of older adulthood? Take one of our classes this month, or check out one of the books from our Embrace Aging book list.
- The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain by Gene Cohen
- The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 by Jonathan Rauch
- This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism by Ashton Applewhite
- Successful Aging by Daniel Levitin
- From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks
- Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson