Aging Gracefully

 The Frightening Privilege of Aging 

Aging is that paradoxical experience of being both a blessing and a curse. As our cells age, they begin to break down, and that in turn translates into wrinkled skin, failing eyesight, and higher susceptibility to sickness and disease. A lifetime of activity can also make joints and bones more prone to stiffness and immobility.

For many, the prospect of aging is a frightening inevitability that proves only that our best years are behind us. This paradigm is reinforced whenever seniors lose their retirement prospects to economic downturn, confidence men, or corporate ineptitude. 

And yet, in the long history of humanity, relatively few people get to reach “old age” -- especially to the ages we have been averaging in the 21st Century, at the height of mankind’s medical acumen. With the average life expectancy approaching 80 years old in the United States, the opportunity for every person to not only make a great life for themselves, but carve out a legacy in their family, community, and country has increased. This is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that the current president of the country will be 82 by the time he leaves office. Happily, there are resources available to those who are frightened or inconvenienced by the prospect of transition into their golden years. Losing your looks, your community, and your estate doesn’t have to be the fate of the modern senior. Utilizing these tools is only hampered by one’s inability to find them. 

Aging Beautifully 

At one point or another, we’ve all looked at someone--be they a celebrity, a family member, or a work colleague--and thought, “They look great for their age!” That addendum, “for their age,” is almost like damning with faint praise since the expectation is that all people, once they reach a certain age, don’t just lose their youthful looks -- they look bad. Looking better than bad, but worse than their best doesn’t sound like much of a compliment anymore, does it? And yet lately the narrative is being rewritten on aging. With more people living into their 80s and 90s, with more and more resources available to them to slow or even reverse the repercussions of aging, we’ve started to hear someone’s 80s being referred to as “the new 60s.” 

The perceptions surrounding aesthetic procedures have gone through a bit of a glow-up themselves, as people are starting to realize that plastic surgery doesn’t mean that the patient must look like plastic when they come out of the hospital. Competent and experienced doctors are able to suggest conservative, yet effective, surgical options that can help someone touch up aspects of their aging appearance without a complete loss of their natural beauty. Heavy eyelids, wrinkled skin, and aging blemishes can be a thing of the past, all without having to undergo an inpatient procedure. As these options become more commonplace, “for their age” will be heard less and less, since looks won’t be so beholden to the whims of age.

A Society of Experience 

One of the great advantages of aging is the literal years behind you. While a person may call that “mileage,” society would do well to take advantage of that experience and judgment. For many individuals entering their senior years, they fear that along with their youth and their looks has gone their usefulness or need for their companionship. This leads to many seniors becoming resigned to just sitting at home, locked away from the world as they entertain themselves with an unending carousel of daytime television and nightly news. 

Much like plastic surgery undergoing an identity change for many seniors, the advantages of a senior living community are becoming common knowledge. Usually established in a warm, sunny climate, these senior living centers are fashioning themselves as havens for the senior individual who craves social interaction, recreation, and diversity. With new homes being built all the time, the elderly all over the country are learning that their best years are still ahead of them, as they find community with others who grew up in the same world they did. To help find a popular community in your area, the easiest method is to simply search online for the ones that are near to you. If you search for what's available in Massachusetts for instance, you'll soon come across communities such as the Shrewsbury Crossing, helping you to make informed decisions about where you should retire.

Legacies Never End 

The final frightening aspect of becoming old that weighs on the mind of the average person is the loss of their legacy, their lasting impression on the world around them. They say that a person dies a second time once the last person who remembers them passes away, but there are steps that can be taken today to ensure that the life you’ve dedicated yourself to building won’t be for nothing once you’re gone. 

Most people are familiar with the concept of a will and want to make sure that certain of their assets are bequeathed to the family and friends that deserve to have them. But a will is only one aspect of estate planning that should be undertaken by the aging individual. An experienced estate attorney will help you know what taxes and governmental regulations may come to bear on what you leave behind, as well as ways to work around them so that the people named in your will receive their inheritance.

These attorneys can also help you take a macro view of your legacy, ensuring that any charitable work you wish to pursue, or business holdings you may have are conducted properly into the right hands. It’s never too early to get a consultation with an estate lawyer and begin learning about your options.

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