We all have an Aged Care story. Our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, friends and friends of friends. It's happening all around us particularly with the baby boomer generation entering into their 60's and 70's. This is a global perfect storm. It will affect some countries more than others (Japan, Europe, USA the highest elderly population per capita while South America the least). Predominantly a higher impact on western countries due to our lack of family and community cohesion.
How can we deliver aged care to such a large population with limited infrastructure (housing, staff and resources)?
Dr. Ellen Langer, Harvard Psychology Chair in her 1981 seminal study on the effects of ageing and mindfulness proved a causal link between how we age and how we think. In her study, Dr. Langer took a group of men aged in their 70's and 80's, placed them in a two storey residence decorated and strewn with reminders from the men's heyday. 1930's and 1940's decor, newspapers, foodstuffs and memorabilia. The foundation requirement for all participants – they were responsible for themselves (individually and as a group) for the entire week. That included getting their suitcases from the bus to the upstairs – quite a feat for those with canes and mobility issues. See the link here for more details Langer's Counterclockwise study.
The gist of the study is this; ageing and how we express our age is all in the mind. Our bodies do develop infirmities and we do get diseases but it is how we think about ourselves that determines how we respond. If we think we are old, we will be old. If we think we are young, we will be young. It's all in the mind. The success of being mindful is how open we are to new things. The simple premise of being open, paying attention to "the new" places us in the present.
Being present is one of the first steps to being mindful – in both eastern or western versions of being mindful.
I will post more on this topic in future blogs.