Recently, the International Journal of Aging and Human Development released an abstract in which senior citizens were interviewed about their aging experience, and what aging meant to them individually. The results? Now more than ever, seniors prefer quality of life over quantity, and would prefer their independence—especially in making decisions.
What’s Important to Today’s Seniors?
In short, today’s seniors refuse to resign themselves to age quietly in a corner while life passes them by. Perhaps it might be the emergence of social media, but today’s seniors are more active than ever. In fact, less people are opting for retirement and more seniors are physically active (take a look at this 100-year-old runner).
This new breed of senior doesn’t want to give up control of their lives, either. Upon interviewing hundreds of seniors, scientists have discovered that seniors would rather have control over their lives, remain independent, and want to make decisions on their own—even if that decision involves terminating their life.
What can we do?
What can we, the next generation, do for our aging counterparts? In short: Listen to their needs.
“There is nothing that bothers me more than someone speaking to me as if I were a child,” comments a senior who wishes to remain anonymous. “My husband went to war, I’ve lived in Africa, and I’ve raised four children on a tight budget. Who has the right to come in to my life and tell me what I can and cannot accomplish?”
Many seniors have the same mentality. Quality of life greatly outnumbers quantity in the eyes of senior citizens, and they would much rather have the right to make life-altering decisions like hiring a live-in companion.
Let seniors participate in their own lives
Rather than sitting on the sidelines, seniors today want to continue to experience their lives, and studies show that doing so has phenomenal health benefits. Walking, dancing, running, and social interactions such as shopping, playing chess, and visiting with friends all prove to decrease the likelihood of degenerative brain diseases while also keeping seniors physically fit.
Invite your senior to the family cookout, even if it’s hot outside. Give them options, ask their opinions, and show that you value their opinions. Take your elder out to lunch, go for a walk in the park, or talk with them about your life.
Studies show that when people have meaningful relationships in their lives, they are less likely to develop depression, anxiety, and even immobility. So, if your senior is a valuable part of your life, let him/her know, this is what is most important to seniors.
Just like new generations have different characteristics, the seniors of the new generations are different as well. Seniors are telling us that they do not want to be seen as fragile, and they certainly do not want to age quietly in a corner.
Today’s seniors, much like today’s people, are most happy when they have a purpose. Building and maintaining meaningful relationships, maintaining independence, and feeling like they have control in their own lives—especially in decision-making, are what is most important to seniors today.