I guess I have been doing too much research on our aging population. The numbers are starting to haunt me. According to the 2013 US Department Study on Aging , 14 percent of Americans are now over 65. By 2040 there will be 82.3 million people 65 and over, that is twice the number in 2000 . Time is moving forward and the impact of such a large portion of the population being defined as elderly has never really happened before.
There are dystopian (opposite of utopian) views of the consequences of this demographic shift and the resources to deal with it. Even with layers of silver tech that is a lot of old folks. But ultimately you have to be responsible for you and yours in terms of not focusing on the global timeline but on your own quality time.
I have not heard the expression quality time in a long while. It usually related to time spent with our baby on board children. Now I think it has switched for our generation to how well we can spend that time into true old age. Sure we are out there trying to enhance our genetics with regular exercise and better eating and general health habits. But it should be leading us to not just more years, but years better spent.
I started this post thinking of clocks and calendars. Then I realized that maybe it is our own internal compasses that we should focus on. Find your North , your South, your East , your West of contentment . Map out the dynamics of the best of your life. Be it that long phone call with a old friend, trying some creative project you never thought you would do, reconciling an old grievance, or even just enjoying that long walk you still do. Enjoy the paid or volunteer work you choose to continue to do. Make your activities their own reward.
I am not trying to sugar coat the obvious and say the challenges of getting older and staying independent are easy. We all have to remain responsible citizens but we are not ultimately responsible for the fact that there are so many of us. The direction we are taking to try and stay as independent as long as we can, I feel is a very responsible thing to do in of itself.
Do not think of your self as a clock running down or as a hapless statistic on the on a demographic timeline . One of the best lines from one of my favorite ‘old age is still awesome’ movies, is the from Still Mine. James Cromwell says to his concerned adult son,” Well I guess I might as well start my slow inevitable decline” when he is urged to stop building a one level house for he and his wife.
Utopia is by it essence a fictionalized account of life. So what about guiding your own best version of that?