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The real question is: how do you want people to see you?

Posted: March 28, 2013

If you have ever toured a senior housing community, you may have thought, or heard from someone "Those people are old! I don't want to live with old people."  Here’s the thing - old doesn’t happen overnight.  Aging is a natural process that is happening to all of us all the time.  If you just see “old”, you are missing out on the real person behind the wrinkles or the glasses or the walker.  Very frequently, the mirror does not reflect a person’s internal image, nor do people tend to see beneath another person’s skin.  What some people see when they look at others is “old”, instead of seeing their likes and dislikes, their strengths and experiences, their wisdom and challenges.  Do you see an old guy who limps or an 82 year old tennis player who has had two knee surgeries and caught a 16 pounder the last time he went fishing?  Do you see a white-haired old lady with a walker or a former CFO of a company, mother of two, grand mother of three who fell off a stepstool and broke her hip while putting a dish away after hosting the family for the holidays?  Are you or will you be just “old”, or do you want people to see all of who you are: the retired professional, the father and grandfather, the devoted wife, the cherished friend, the guy who loves fishing, the skilled artist, the historian, the baker, the active member of a special group or club, the New York Times crossword puzzler, the Mah jongg champ…..  We each have an opportunity to see beyond the superficial wrinkles and walkers, and to engage with the real person. 

Caren Silverlieb is Director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships

 

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