An inspiring definition for aging gracefully appears on the website of the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). It is as follows: a person should do what they can so that they “stride into their older years with confidence”. Aging gracefully with confidence – that has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Different Ways to Understand Aging Gracefully
For some seniors, aging gracefully will be totally related to how they look. Their decisions will relate to whether:
- they should do plastic surgery
- invest in special make-up for seniors or
- choose to wear their wrinkles with pride
For other seniors, aging gracefully will be totally related to how they function. Decisions will be made in connection with
- ways to stay independent
- which types of exercise will maintain muscle strength
- ways to save their own energy, or
- getting partial assistance for certain things
For yet other seniors, aging gracefully means accepting their life’s challenges with grace, such as, medical conditions. Their choices will be based on:
- Which is the most graceful and controlled way to travel the emotional journey through rehab?
- How can they ease the journey for all? Perhaps by showing a smiling face to a dedicated nurse, or agreeing to work a bit harder with the physical therapist
Aging Gracefully while in Rehab
When seniors are in a rehabilitation environment, each person may support their own idea of what it means to age gracefully.
There is importance in preserving beauty even while in rehab. Who says you can’t have a makeover, a good shave or a haircut? A patient who feels good about how he looks may recover faster.
There is significance in maintaining independence in a patient even while in a rehab setting. If a patient is motivated and wants independence, their occupational therapy may be more effective.
Respecting a patient’s choices in their care, also supports a patients vision of aging gracefully with confidence.
With Whom does Control for Aging Gracefully Lie?
Does the rehab environment support a patient’s idea of aging gracefully?
Part of the attitude towards aging gracefully is in the patient’s hands. The other part is within the control of the staff in the rehab center.
Staff are required to behave towards patients in a way that supports the attitude of the patient.
The work principles of staff, therapists or social workers include helping a patient to feel dignity and respect. That dignity and respect should be reflected outwards to patients. It will support a patient’s concept of aging gracefully, within the guidelines of accepted practices.
Respect and Dignity by Medical Providers
Patients in post-hospitalization rehabilitation, wish to be respected. Being shown respect and dignity by the rehab staff is important to patients. It contributes in part to the patient’s feeling of whether they can age gracefully. In other words, if the patient’s wishes are being respected, his view of aging gracefully is being respected.
Patients believe that the following concepts are part of respecting patients:
- Sensing empathy from the medical personnel
- Receiving good care
- Preserving of the patient’s autonomy where possible
- Being informed as to the details of care
- Recognition of the patient as an individual
- Maintaining their dignity
- Paying attention to a patient’s needs
Aging gracefully is usually used to mean approaching the senior years with a willingness to exercise, eat healthily and seek wellness. While this is true, another part of aging gracefully, is approaching the senior years with the confidence of knowing what you want. This confidence is nurtured partially by a senior themselves and partially by their environment.
A senior in a rehab environment can expect respect and dignity that will support their concept of aging gracefully. This will nourish a senior adult’s deep desire for aging gracefully with confidence.
The beautiful rocky creek in Yosemite National Park can symbolize someone who is aging with grace and also confidence. The ancient rocks have been standing witness to the world, in all their glory.