I just spent a week in Hawaii with my son and his young family, truly appreciating the adage that the greatest gift in life is having grandchildren.
I’m fortunate to work in an organization that doesn’t fear aging but actually embraces every aspect of it. It is liberating to consider that the aging journey is something to be cherished. Consider the wisdom that comes with age; the freedom from work-related obligations; the time for travel or learning new hobbies; and of course, grandchildren … joy without the responsibility of daily parenting.
As a brand-new card-carrying member of the Medicare class, I do appreciate the fight. Medicine and technology to combat the effects of aging have never been better. We are living longer and healthier lives. For those of us who live in the business of caring for the elderly, it’s gratifying to see so many 95-year-olds still laughing and enjoying purposeful, meaningful lives.
Conversely, it also helps us appreciate the challenge of so many adult children caring for a loved one who can’t remember what made them laugh.
Different chapters may introduce financial, physical or cognitive limitations as we age. Not thinking about aging and preparing for it is actually what can enslave us later. Living longer means planning for 20 years post retirement, not 10. Making smart choices about living healthier now helps to minimize physical or cognitive changes later. And talking to our loved ones about how they want to live at the end of their lives gives peace of mind about honoring their wishes when they can’t remember or speak for themselves.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said “G-d is not in things of space but in moments of time.” By embracing aging instead of fearing it, we liberate ourselves to take full advantage of every moment we have left.
Harley Tabak is president & CEO of Jewish Home Life Communities.