Older people are happy

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practical

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Older people are happy
« on: July 02, 2018, 03:04:21 PM »
 :blink: :unsure: :o  :uuuuhhh::oh: :stars: :jawdrop:

Those were my reactions when I read an article stating that older people are happier, more content than young people, experience less stress and greater emotional stability. This couldn't be true, the journalist must have gotten it wrong, he must have had an acute case of wishful thinking.   :roll:

One researcher was quoted in this article and I looked her up and found a Ted talk by her, Laura Carstensen:
https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_carstensen_older_people_are_happier
I listened to it and decided she must have given it a positive spin for the TED audience so nobody would be upset by how bleak the reality of old age is.  :blank:  so I looked at some actual research, and no, those are the data, old people are happier.  :stars:

The essence is that older people have more emotional maturity, emotional experience to deal with life, are better able to appreciate life, to focus on the positive and to find a peaceful, relaxed, contented state. Yes, mental capacity might go down, there are illnesses to deal with, but somehow our emotional capabilities stay the same or improve. We are also better able to deal with sadness.

I was really stunned because all I know of old age is what I have witnessed with my parents and it looks like an absolute horror (B's MIL and FIL are no different, my MIL is on the easier end of the spectrum). It has made me wish not to get old, wishing to die before I get overwhelmed by negativity and make other people's life miserable. Yes, I have heard about happy elderly people, even met them occasionally but always had the feeling that this wasn't real, was a show, that I was not seeing the truth because I didn't know them closely enough, and if I could look behind the curtain it would just be like my parents. A truly content old person seemed to me rarer than a unicorn. Turns out they exist! They are the majority or the studies wouldn't show the results they do. If F and some of the parents of other members here were the norm, the studies would show very different results: That old age is a horror of negativity, drama,  entitlement, self-victimization and chaos.

Maybe this boils down to the issue of emotional maturity in a way. I know my uPDparents aren't emotionally mature, and so if you are stuck at age 4, 5 or 10, getting older won't change this. A 5 or 10 year old is not equipped to deal with getting old, the changes it brings, may experience utter cognitive dissonance, feel trapped in his 10 year old self or demand to be treated like one, and the result is what we are dealing with (chaos, drama ...) instead of what the studies describe. Just a thought.

I found this information very reassuring, A.) I can hope to have a contented old age  :) , B.) it again makes it clear how unacceptable F's behavior is, that old age doesn't give you a right to be that way or make you that way, it is who you are and have been.

Here are some quotes from the TED talk and my first reactions/comments:
"Aging brings some rather remarkable improvements -- increased knowledge, expertise -- and emotional aspects of life improve. That's right, older people are happy. They're happier than middle-aged people, and younger people, certainly."
What?????? F is getting more and more discontent, and this process seems to accelerate like a boulder hurtling down a mountain. He wasn't happy when he was young, but  he was "happier" - using the term rather loosely.

"And stress, worry, anger all decrease with age."
Nope, No, and you are kidding, right??? The increase in anger has been a huge issue with F, it no longer being filtered at all. The level of stress - home-made by him and for him to share with everybody :roll: - has been skyrocketing, and it is intertwined with worries about who knows what. All of this together is the mixture that creates drama and chaos galore and makes dealing with him a tightly stacked minefield.

"Now it's really too simplistic to say that older people are "happy." In our study, they are more positive. But they're also more likely than younger people to experience mixed emotions -- sadness at the same time you experience happiness; you know, that tear in the eye when you're smiling at a friend. And other research has shown that older people seem to engage with sadness more comfortably. They're more accepting of sadness than younger people are. And we suspect that this may help to explain why older people are better than younger people at solving hotly charged emotional conflicts and debates. Older people can view injustice with compassion, but not despair."
No way is F more positive! His negativity is like battery acid, it finds every nook and cranny of your being and slowly eats your soul. And as for being better to resolve emotional conflicts - he causes them! He hasn't resolved a single one nor has any interest in doing so but has caused plenty.

"And all things being equal, older people direct their cognitive resources, like attention and memory, to positive information more than negative. If we show older, middle-aged, younger people images, like the ones you see on the screen, and we later ask them to recall all the images that they can, older people, but not younger people, remember more positive images than negative images. We've asked older and younger people to view faces in laboratory studies, some frowning, some smiling. Older people look toward the smiling faces and away from the frowning, angry faces. In day-to-day life, this translates into greater enjoyment and satisfaction."
No, definitely not! F can suck up and hold on to negative information (even if it is figment of his imagination) like some supercharged sponge and will not forget it, hold it against you again and again, and gravitates towards everything that is wrong, bad, where he has been wronged, what is wrong with the world ... while anything positive doesn't even have a chance to disappear, it never exists in the first place.

"Well, in our research, we've found that these changes are grounded fundamentally in the uniquely human ability to monitor time -- not just clock time and calendar time, but lifetime. And if there's a paradox of aging, it's that recognizing that we won't live forever changes our perspective on life in positive ways."
No again, the more aware F gets that his days are numbered the more he thrashes around, gets angry about the fact that his days are numbered and feels entitled to ... I'm not sure what.

"As we age, our time horizons grow shorter and our goals change. When we recognize that we don't have all the time in the world, we see our priorities most clearly. We take less notice of trivial matters. We savor life. We're more appreciative, more open to reconciliation. We invest in more emotionally important parts of life, and life gets better, so we're happier day-to-day."
None of the above and especially not seeking reconciliation! He is driving everybody away, nothing and nobody is good enough, trivial matters get blown into dramas, and he certainly doesn't savor life or any particle of it.


While we here might no have been lucky enough to have parents like those in the TED talk, maybe we will be fortunate enough to be the positive, contented elders described. Maybe one day we'll be sitting around a virtual fireplace exchanging positive stories - current and past - and smiling at each other happy to have reached this peaceful place of being elderly.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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bruceli

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2018, 05:13:55 PM »
In regards to PD's, one maybe mistaking happiness for being less angry...... there's a difference.
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Psuedonym

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2018, 06:31:03 PM »
What planet do the old people in this Ted talk live on? Haha. Yes, if you took the polar opposite of all these things, it would describe my uBPDm perfectly. I think you are exactly right in saying that it's about emotional maturity,. and the ability to self reflect, which just is not there. With my m there is no gratitude for having lived a long life (late 80s) but rather a lot of anger that she in fact old; I guess I was supposed to fix that, too? My best friend who's mother is probably both NPD and BPD says that at least our parents have given us a glowing example of how not to live our lives.

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Monologue Magnet

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 02:30:21 AM »
Practical,

I'm like you, I would have been very surprised if I had run across that article as well.  The older people I know, including my parents, are not happier.

I think you and Pseudonym both hit it on the head, if a person is developmentally frozen at a very young age, there's no way they're going to have capacity for dealing with life's frustrations.

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but with my dad, who I strongly believe to be uNPD, I very often feel like he has an entitled expectation that his life is supposed to be absolutely perfect, and not one little thing must ever go wrong. Of course, no one's life is perfect.  But because he has no capacity to handle any frustration at all, he has a rage fest any time even the most minor thing goes wrong.

I was listening to a Kris Godinez video last night.  One of the things she suggests is that we journal both our good and bad experiences.  Then we take the bad ones out to the barbecue, read them out loud one time, and then burn them in the barbecue.  But keep the journaling of the good stuff. Her take was that then years later, the written stuff we could go through and remember would be the good stuff.  Of course journaling has a lot of good purposes and ways that it can work for different people, so if someone needs to keep track of the bad events to remind themselves not to re-engage with someone who is toxic, I think that is good and sometimes necessary. But the aspect of Kris Godinez's suggestion that I liked was that we keep records of the good stuff as well.  Maybe that's a way we can eventually become those happier more settled elders ourselves even if our parents weren't?

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JG65

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 11:22:04 AM »
practical,

Thanks for sharing. I'm mid-way through earning my Master of Social Work degreen (I also work full time) and learned that this is so, but not for everyone. There is a theory that middle is a time of generativity versus stagnation. Some people find purpose as they age, discovering ways to give back to younger generations. Others stagnate, becoming stuck and failing to find purpose.

I saw some positive aspects for my mother, but she had COPD and mental health issues. My diagnosed NPD father is another story. He seemed to lose what little self-control and respect for laws and proper social behavior he had. It became impossible to separate what behaviors--confusion, dementia, etc.--were real and what he was fabricating to manipulate and draw sympathy. He also stopped showing any interest in pretending to be interested in anyone but himself. His behavior got worse and I tossed in the towel when I finally reached the point of not being able to take it.

I think NPD and ASD don't allow people to achieve generativity. I perhaps could have lived with stagnation, but my father seemed to enter a stage of his own.
Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences - Robert Louis Stevenson

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momnthefog

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 11:32:31 AM »
...... at least our parents have given us a glowing example of how not to live our lives.

 :yeahthat:


"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible.  She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings."

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practical

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 11:45:47 AM »
But the aspect of Kris Godinez's suggestion that I liked was that we keep records of the good stuff as well.  Maybe that's a way we can eventually become those happier more settled elders ourselves even if our parents weren't?
F was enmeshed and emotionally abused by his M, his take is "that is in the past, I don't need to see any therapist or talk about it" - except it isn't. His not working through his past, only looking at the good things with his M in my opinion is one of the reasons why he is ill himself. He also has now whitewashed M  :stars: . For me healing is the ability to remember both and it is also a sign of emotional maturity for me to remember and hold them both. Furthermore, no burning of journal pages could take away the scars I'm carrying. I would have to brainwash myself and that sounds utterly unhealthy and a recipe for disaster (see F and his deep seated unhappiness, insecurity, fears, anxiety, sense of entitlement, self-victimization, ...). The bad times are part of what made me who I am: a resilient, strong, empathetic person and yes, also somebody who has a history of depression. I could have done without them happily, I wasn't given that option, so I will take them and continue to make the best out of them. For me acceptance of both is what will lead to healing, contentment, being grounded in your Self.

And then there is this:
...... at least our parents have given us a glowing example of how not to live our lives.
I'm very conscious about how not to be, because of what I have witnessed with M and F. Burning the bad parts of the past sounds to me like negating myself the chance to continue to learn from it. When I was a teenager I had a notebook "How not to raise my kids" where I wrote all the things down M or F did and that I would absolutely not do. I unfortunately don't have it anymore, I think I kept this promise to myself anyway.


I'm mid-way through earning my Master of Social Work degreen (I also work full time) and learned that this is so, but not for everyone. There is a theory that middle is a time of generativity versus stagnation. Some people find purpose as they age, discovering ways to give back to younger generations. Others stagnate, becoming stuck and failing to find purpose.
...
I think NPD and ASD don't allow people to achieve generativity. I perhaps could have lived with stagnation, but my father seemed to enter a stage of his own.
That is really interesting. Admittedly, F didn't have chance to follow his ideas for retirement as M's bipolar went out of control and he took care of her, not sure the end result would have been much different otherwise given who he had always been even if it was a milder version of what he is today. I think what your F and mine are doing is regress more than stagnate.
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Psuedonym

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2018, 12:15:53 PM »
MM, this is a perfect description:

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but with my dad, who I strongly believe to be uNPD, I very often feel like he has an entitled expectation that his life is supposed to be absolutely perfect, and not one little thing must ever go wrong. Of course, no one's life is perfect.  But because he has no capacity to handle any frustration at all, he has a rage fest any time even the most minor thing goes wrong.

uBPDm is literally full of rage at the world not only for things that have gone wrong but at failing to adequately entertain her. Like she wants to talk to the manager and demand a refund.

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Monologue Magnet

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2018, 01:12:33 PM »
Practical:

I hope I did not say anything triggering or that sounded like joining flying monkeys in denial that people have done bad things.  I apologize if I did.  You have made an excellent point that by including the full picture of someone's bad behavior toward us, we can have the opportunity to learn from that and to acknowledge those experiences as a part of who we are.

Pseudonym:
MM, this is a perfect description:

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but with my dad, who I strongly believe to be uNPD, I very often feel like he has an entitled expectation that his life is supposed to be absolutely perfect, and not one little thing must ever go wrong. Of course, no one's life is perfect.  But because he has no capacity to handle any frustration at all, he has a rage fest any time even the most minor thing goes wrong.

uBPDm is literally full of rage at the world not only for things that have gone wrong but at failing to adequately entertain her. Like she wants to talk to the manager and demand a refund.

I hope that you don't mind I kind of laughed a little about your mother wanting to talk to the manager and demand a refund! 

My dad has gone off on these rants literally every day of my life that I've known him, and it sounds so obvious looking at it from this perspective that yes he is narcissistic and yes this is abusive of him to do this to all the people around him.  But for some reason it took me awhile to figure out that there is something wrong with the man's brain and I didn't cause it.  So I found the information that he's not the only narcissist who does stuff like this validating.

And I am sorry that you had to deal with that from your mother.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2018, 01:32:04 PM by Monologue Magnet »

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Psuedonym

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 01:39:59 PM »
Glad I could make you laugh, MM. :) Sometimes that's about all we can do.

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practical

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2018, 04:15:45 PM »
MM, no worries. For me it is simply important to not sweep things under the rug. As the TED talk says, as we get older we are better able to experience sadness and happiness at the same time, so hopefully that applies to remembering PDparents too. It is much harder to remember both than either focus only on the bad or only on the good, gray shades are harder to remember than simplifying to black-and-white thinking.

MM, this is a perfect description:

I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but with my dad, who I strongly believe to be uNPD, I very often feel like he has an entitled expectation that his life is supposed to be absolutely perfect, and not one little thing must ever go wrong. Of course, no one's life is perfect.  But because he has no capacity to handle any frustration at all, he has a rage fest any time even the most minor thing goes wrong.

uBPDm is literally full of rage at the world not only for things that have gone wrong but at failing to adequately entertain her. Like she wants to talk to the manager and demand a refund.

I hope that you don't mind I kind of laughed a little about your mother wanting to talk to the manager and demand a refund! 

My dad has gone off on these rants literally every day of my life that I've known him, and it sounds so obvious looking at it from this perspective that yes he is narcissistic and yes this is abusive of him to do this to all the people around him.  But for some reason it took me awhile to figure out that there is something wrong with the man's brain and I didn't cause it.  So I found the information that he's not the only narcissist who does stuff like this validating.

And I am sorry that you had to deal with that from your mother.
Wow is that familiar  :-\ . F expects doctors to literally repair him and make him new ("like new" won't cut it  :roll: ). I used to find him the next doctor and then another and another, all of them failing to find the reset button for him  :roll: , and when they didn't fix him, I had to listen to more complaints. I somehow was part of the "Make F new again" project in his mind. He also feels he is owed extra time on this planet because of his suffering (M had the same idea, they both did suffer, I just never met anybody who thought they were owed some kind of coupons to make up for the parts of their lives they didn't like as if it was some underdone steak you send back  :roll: ). Like you say, a strange sense of entitlement runs through this, and again I think it goes back to being immature. Little kids sometimes have the sense that the world revolves around them, they grow out of it, with F it seems to get worse  :aaauuugh: .

If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Monologue Magnet

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2018, 09:49:41 PM »
Practical:

Yes, thinking the whole world revolves around them and never growing out if it, describes it, I think.  I'm sorry you had to listen to even more complaints even after you tried to help with the finding different doctors.  And the analogy about sending back the underdone steak, it seems like that's exactly it!  Sometimes it seems like they think if they complain loudly enough for long enough, they can re-make reality into something they like better, but that never happens and it never works.

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louisebt

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #12 on: July 04, 2018, 10:58:55 AM »
i've worked with loads of older people and there is a couple of things i've noticed. There is a difference between being what i call 'young old' and 'old old'. young old is post retirement, still got most physical and cognitive functioning, financially likely quite stable, most of their friends are about, often have younf grnadchildren to enjoy...

then old old (at whatever age life get worse- physcial and mental functioning get progressively worse, money starts to run out, their grandkids grow up, friends start dying off, increased isolation loneliness and increased realisation 'this is it' or 'i'm waiting for God'. IMHO this is quite natural leading up to the end of someone's life.

PD old people are a very different bunch. The entitlement esp in NPD, the complete incredulity and constant railing that the world/their body/their mind/their family is changing and won't meet their every need instantly. The toddler tantrums, the inability to accept any loss of function or worsening circumstances without it having to be someone's fault, because they are emotionally too immature to deal with it.  The lack of insight that if they treat people who want or need to help them like crap, they aren't going to get what they need.

My mother will never be happy. I honestly don't think at this point she is capable of true happiness. I asked her to smile for a photo today and she was incapable of doing so. That speaks volumes to me. However finding out she is terminally ill does seem to have made her 'chill out' about stuff more at the moment. But that will slide into depression pretty soon 'nothing matters anyway now'.

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all4peace

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2018, 11:19:27 AM »
I've seen it both directions, healthy genuinely old people who get sweeter and sweeter with age, and our PD parents who most definitely are not happier the older they get, whose life decisions are finally reaping consequences in their familial relationships.

I know which group I want to belong to!

I had a course in Aging at university, and we were taught that crabby young people become crabby old people, and happy young people become happy young people :)

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blacksheep7

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2018, 01:09:14 PM »
Yes, only if they are healthy mentally and then again when illness due to old age creeps up, it is not easy.

Not our PD parents for sure!
I may be the black sheep of the family, but some of the white sheep are not as white as they try to appear.

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MyEyesROpen

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2018, 10:00:03 AM »
My NM doesn't see herself as old even though she's almost eighty. It's not because she's young at heart, it's because she's emotionally immature. She's permanently dissatisfied with her failing body because it doesn't fit her self image. She denies any medical advice she is given unless it results in instant fixes, because she has no patience, and of course such things don't exist. She's dissatisfied that her life hasn't matched up to her lofty fantasies and is envious of anyone who is younger or more successful than her........so most of the human race then. She is only happy when others she looks down on......again most people come into this category......are experiencing bad or painful life events, but since most of her friends and family have gone NC with her because of her entitled and selfish behaviour, she gets very little opportunity to find out about others bad news so that she can gloat about it. For people like this, there's very little to be happy or positive about......and sorry if this sounds bad, but IMO, it's pure karma for all the pain and hurt they've caused others throughout their lives.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who fill your cup, and those who drain it. Joe Navarro

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practical

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2018, 12:45:53 PM »
It is really sad how similar our experiences are.

I've seen it both directions, healthy genuinely old people who get sweeter and sweeter with age, and our PD parents who most definitely are not happier the older they get, whose life decisions are finally reaping consequences in their familial relationships.

I know which group I want to belong to!

I had a course in Aging at university, and we were taught that crabby young people become crabby old people, and happy young people become happy young people :)
A doctor told F years ago with regard to M, old age brings either the best to the worst out in people. I guess the balance tips in the direction in which it has been skewed for many years, and so it went to "the worst" for both my parents  :(  >:( .
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)

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Kieveen

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2018, 03:43:08 PM »
My M is far less toxic now that she is in her 70's then she was in her 30's.  Everything use to stress her out so bad, she'd wig out at the drop of a hat.  She's always been very dependent on others but for the first time in her life she lives completely alone and I've never seen her happier.

My F on the other hand he seems angrier and more alcoholic than ever.  My step mom is an enabler but she seems more content even with the craziness of my dad.

My OCPDMIL has calmed down allot over the past year now that all her needs are being met by ASLF.  Also  she is suffering from cognitive decline and brain fog due to her heart condition which is probably numbing her behavior.

I think the information is probably correct for a normal individual, but some of that may depend on what mental health conditions they have and physical health conditions as well.

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lightworld

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #18 on: July 14, 2018, 07:28:47 AM »
Like all4peace I've seen both sides. The terrible old age of my parents and the seemingly lovely old age of some of my friends. For example some members of my walking group are in their late eighties but are positive, interesting, lively and creative. Even a ninety year old  lady in my parent's nursing home is so cheerful, she told me she  goes on every single trip the home organises and every event that happens. She gets  taken out by her daughter and son and is nothing but grateful for her  life.  My F would never go on any trips or sit at a table with others at mealtimes or talk to anyone. He moans all the  time about his health (they should do something), about the food, about the staff.

So - there is hope for a happier old age I think but it does appear that PDs at  not able to enjoy it but then again did they enjoy any of their lives?
"Hope springs eternal..."Alexander Pope

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practical

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Re: Older people are happy
« Reply #19 on: July 14, 2018, 10:21:43 PM »
So - there is hope for a happier old age I think but it does appear that PDs at  not able to enjoy it but then again did they enjoy any of their lives?
You hit the nail on the head there! Never saw it in that broader context.

I read a review of a book called "The Happiness Curve" and in the intro the reviewer wrote the following "Not long ago I asked my grandmother how she stays so sanguine about life. At 98, she has plenty of reason to kvetch. Her beloved husband died over a decade ago, and she has lost most of her siblings and nearly all her friends. Her frailty has confined her to a wheelchair and necessities round-the-clock care. Yet somehow she greets every day with a smile. "What do you gain from worrying?" she explained. "It just gives you a pain in the head." (WSJ 6/1/18 "Midlife Slump and Late-Life Upswing" by Emily Bobrow)
And in F's case that pain in the head would need medical treatment  :stars: , and all the doctors treating it would be clueless.   :sadno:
If Im not towards myself, who is towards myself? And when Im only towards myself, what am I? And if not now, when? (Rabbi Hillel)

"I can forgive, but I cannot afford to forget." (Moglow)