Eventually, we go from “Where did all these old people come from?” to “Oops, I’m one of them.”
Sue Bohnsack, supervisor of the Eden Prairie Senior Center, views “old” as a state of mind. Vicki Franzen, licensed marriage and family therapist at Eden Prairie’s Bridge to Hope and Healing, acknowledges the role of physical decline but also focuses more on the mental aspect of “old,” which she sees as a frame of mind, an attitude.
Franzen says that as you age, your life feels narrower. There are growing limitations.
Bohnsack emphasizes that there are as many kinds of aging as there are elderly people. She says that a great need for seniors is information on how to deal with aging. The Senior Center and professionals in Eden Prairie can provide such information.
One of the best things about being a senior, says Franzen, is the many choices that are still available. Also, with retirement, there is more time. “You have more time to pursue what brings you joy,” she says.
Regarding physical decline, Bohnsack reminds us that there are physical activities that we can use to improve our bodies and minds — perhaps pickleball or yoga. For “senior moments,” there is even medication available. She notes that seniors do see the benefit of independent recreation, as proved by 32,000 annual visits to the Eden Prairie Senior Center.
Both Bohnsack and Franzen agree that at least in the early stages of dementia, the elderly realize that they are in dementia. When you are coping with dementia, Franzen says that, hopefully, you can be supported by “the grace of those around you.” She says that in old age, your happiness equals “expectations divided by reality.” Overblown expectations are a trap. You need to have a realistic attitude.
The elderly can spend time engaged in senior activities and projects. Do they want to? Franzen notes that even a seemingly simple craft project has the benefit of providing an opportunity for socialization. You can get yourself out of the house and have something to do with other human beings.
Key parts of aging are gratitude and acceptance. Franzen notes that if you are struggling to get a heavy object out of your shopping cart and into the trunk of your car, and a younger person comes over to help you, you can resist the urge to stammer, “Oh no, no. no. I’m fine.” Instead, you can say thank you.
Bohnsack notes the benefits of aging: knowledge, wisdom, and life experience. Franzen lists several gifts of aging: “not having to be someone you are not, learning to cherish moments, learning to live in the present, not being influenced by outside forces [including advertisements], not being influenced by [a materialistic quest for]money.”
“Friendships are a very necessary part of aging positively,” says Franzen. Bohnsack agrees that it is great to have someone with you to go through the challenges of life. She does, of course, acknowledge the pain when a friend passes on.
Marriage, too, Franzen says, provides companionship and an element that is dependable and reliable. Bohnsack says, “It is important to have a significant person in your life —someone to share time with.”
Bohnsack and Franzen both feel that Eden Prairie is a nice place to retire. Bohnsack notes that there are 17 senior housing facilities, several residential retirement homes, and the Eden Prairie Senior Center, plus the EPPIA (Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging). Franzen remarks on Eden Prairie’s community center classes and says that Eden Prairie’s churches provide a number of opportunities for socialization and even grief classes.
As people grow older, people need information about dealing with aging, an appreciation of the numerous choices available to them, a dose of realism, socialization, gratitude, dependable relationships, and a positive attitude. And, as noted, the large array of services available in Eden Prairie.
|Eden Prairie Senior Center, 8950 Eden Prairie Road 952.279.8058|
|Eden Prairie Community Center, 16700 Valley View Road 952.949.8470|
|Bridge to Hope and Healing (Vicki Franzen), 6542 Regency Lane 612.317.6807 Ms. Franzen is accepting new clients.|
|Eden Prairie Professionals in Aging www.edenprairie.org |
Meet the 3rd Thursday of every other month at Staring Lake Pavilion, Lakeview Room, located at 14800 Pioneer Trail, from 9-10 a.m.
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