Sharing The Past And Aging

There can be much satisfaction in sharing with an elderly person his reflections on the past. Directly or indirectly, it is part of our history as well. Apart from the facts we could glean, it deepens our understanding of life’s experiences. Together with the old person, we feel the transformation from child to youth to adult and beyond.

In this way, an old person who opens his mind and feelings to us is a unique text on human development and aging.

When we show interest in that person’s past, we are being helpful to him in several ways: 1) an opportunity to air his experiences making it easier for him to develop a fresh perspective, and 2) the process of discussing his past with another person can help him to be more objective, (i.e.) he can stand back and take another look at the experiences that have been so close to him.

Some of the disappointment and resentment that may have been influencing his view of his past life may be alleviated through the sharing process. This can encourage not only a more positive assessment of the past, but also a more hopeful attitude toward the present and future. He may also find it easier to think positively about his achievements if somebody else is at hand to confirm them, and by doing so, honor them.

There is no age restriction on turning to the past for help to meet challenges of the present and future. Overuse of the past, shown by certain old people, is related to their reduced opportunity for sharing experiences with others, as well as reduced stimulation and opportunity in the present environment.

Despite this concern with the past, the future is of interest to many elderly individuals just as the past is to many of their juniors.

Research with adults indicate that the most typical daydreams center around practical tasks and challenges and this is as true of the old as it is of young and middle-aged people. The old do not bury themselves in the past or avert their eyes from the future. Neither should we!

Quotable Quote: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” - John Wooden
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