Star Guides Sandy Cohen, R.N., Roger Cormier, M.A.

“Finding your own way to grow older”

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By Sandra Cohen, R.N., and Roger Cormier, M.A.

  What image do you have of aging? What is your attitude toward your own aging? Do you have expectations or plans for your later years? Or is it something you just don’t manage to think about?

    Living one’s aging is as individual as every other stage of life. But following are some factors that seem to affect many people as they approach and live through their later years:

  · Values and goals. We create our unique blends of interests and activities. Often, one value shapes a life. Some love their work so much that they never retire. Others love interaction with their family above all else. Still others structure their life according to their religious beliefs and affiliation or a single passion like music or environmental preservation. The blend can change as values and circumstances change. For example, someone forced into retirement by disability might discover a passion for painting outdoor scenes.                                                                                                                

  · Unfulfilled dreams. Responsibilities, narrow vision or timidity may keep us from going after a long held dream. When we reach our fifties, many of us become more aware that our  lifespan truly is limited. Some of us make big    changes to follow our heart while we still can. For example, one of our colleagues gave up her business and personal possessions to act on her long held dream to serve the people of a small nation in the Pacific Islands. Now, after more than ten years, she has returned to the U.S. to be closer to her family and to start another business.

  · Loss and renewal. Think of elderly people you know. They have lost some beloved people and their health and abilities have declined. Some of them have grieved their losses and joyously reengaged their lives. Others may have become bitter and disengaged. The way you handle loss now is likely the way you’ll respond to it in your later years.

  · Support system. Whether we rely on many, few or just one other person for day-to-day support, it’s important to believe that there are others who can enter our lives and make a difference. This conviction is important as our lives change in old age.

  · Spirituality. Amidst the ups and down of living, we hunger for inner connection and peace. These values, like all else in life, ultimately are gifts. There is no more important way to live now and to prepare for later years than by making time now to open ourselves to our inner strength, promptings and consolation. Daily time in a quiet corner, garden or other sacred space can put us in touch with what’s old, new and timely as we move through our changing lives.

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  Sandy and Roger continue providing seniors and boomers advice, resources and inspiration on this blog which takes over from their “Growing Older” column prized by countless readers since 2003. Sign up below to receive our free blog posts. Contact us about our blog at or 510-457-1098. Your comments about the blog are welcome!