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Father time plays tricks on us. We look in the mirror and ask: “Where did the time go?” Over the years as director of the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, an author, motivational speaker and now in my role with Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, I have been a long-time proponent of having an Aging Well Attitude. Just what is an Aging Well Attitude? In my definition it is a mindset which allows us to “Embrace the Possibilities” (our PVM motto) and look upon aging in a positive way. Yes, we will have some challenges as we age. However, it can be the best of times if we look for the positives. Now folks can live to see their grandchildren graduate and marry, and even experience the joy of welcoming great grandchildren into the world. They have a chance to take up interests and even second careers which allow them to follow their dreams and passions. Over the years I have observed several key components which many experts have noted. Simply utilizing the letters in the word AGE we can zero in on them:

A IS FOR ATTITUDE – Almost everyone I know who has aged well with longevity has displayed this trait. In other words, they do not let anything get them down. They look for the joy in life and help to create it for others no matter what may be going on in their lives. I remember from my motivational speaking days when a woman said she was getting very down due to some issues. Her husband told her to deal with what was going on but to look for the “blessing in disguise” and not let the situation zap the joy from her life. She replied that it was easy for him since that was always what he projected. To that he replied: “What makes you think it is easy for me? I work at it.”

G IS FOR GENETICS – Genetics does play a role. Chronic conditions and longevity which we inherit do impact our aging process. However, experts say that it only impacts 25-30% when it comes to the aging process. And no one gets dealt four aces in the deck. We all have issues to deal with. We can offset this impact by our life choices and engage in a Wellness lifestyle. I did get one ace in the deck since I have a paternal ancestor who lived to be 114 in the 1800’s! However, I also received a few lower cards just like everyone else.

E IS FOR EMBRACING AGING & EMBRACING LIFE – Sadly many people fear aging so much that they want to deny its existence. Many commercials tout: “Don’t give in to Aging. Defy It”. And many people do not want to tell anyone their age. I was once told by a dental assistant that there are thirty or forty somethings who get insulted if they ask them their age. This is not good news for them or for our society! I saw a good slogan: “Know your age and then forget it”. Do not dwell on it. First of all, it never works to try to deny any part of ourselves. It is not good for our self-esteem. Secondly, if we are truly engaged in life via volunteerism, enjoying our families and joining in with others we will have that Aging Well Attitude which can make these some of the best years of our lives.