June 16, 2024

Life Changes by Colin Milner

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100 Years of Change

I am at odds with the prevailing philosophy that older adults don’t want to change. At age 100, my grandmother has seen two global wars change the world. She watched the rise and fall of fascism in Europe, plus the rise and fall of communism in Russia and the Eastern Bloc. She experienced the prosperity of the 1920s and the hardships of the Great Depression that followed. In her lifetime, many new countries have been created, and travel has become common, thanks to the advent of commercial flight. A man walked on the moon, and she was able to watch because of the invention of television. The power of technology has increased the pace of change and reshaped the world since her birth. Telephones have become mobile and “smart,” while personal computers and the Internet have put the world at people’s fingertips. This is the remark- able level of change my grandmother has experienced, yet this is the same person society believes incapable of change.

My grandmother has lived, loved and experienced loss over her 100 years, but rather than resist change, she has embraced it due to her innate adaptability—a key contributor to longevity.

Here are five lessons we can learn from those who have experienced 100 years of change:

Have passion: One of the most important things; find what excites you. My grandmother, for example, experiences great joy in her boys—the Vancouver Canucks. Forget avid follower; my grandmother is a rav- ing fan of this National Hockey League team. In fact, I’m sure that in her mind, she is part of the team. Passion prompts staying engaged in daily happenings and surroundings!

Be adaptable: Life is full of challenges, learning to and even embracing challenges is imperative. No matter what happens, keep moving forward.

Remain positive: Due to a mild stroke several years ago, my grandmother lost vision in one eye and transitioned to using a wheelchair. Asked what she thought of her wheelchair, she explained that it was a new exercise tool and she was learning the ways in which to use it. Find the positive!

Love: Be a giver, not a taker. Be generous in your spirit. Doing so, keeps us connected and invested in our relationships.

Enjoy the ride: No doubt there will be times where we wish to have done some things differently, but regrets are a waste of time and energy. Enjoy and experience life’s journey!

What changes will we see in our lifetimes and our careers? Questions—and opportunities—arise every day. What matters is how we respond. So, how are you responding to getting older?

By Colin Milner, founder and chief executive officer of the International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA), is a leading authority on the health and well-being of the older adult. An award-winning writer, Milner has authored over 250 articles. He is a Contributing Blogger to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Be Active Your Way Blog, and has been published in journals such as Global Policy and the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk. He recently contributed a chapter to the book Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise? (Published by the Forum in 2012.)

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