Unfortunately, there isn’t much about aging that we think of as positive in our culture. What a loss! Ageist stereotypes have us living in fear of getting old. Equally limiting is the stereotype of the wise, all-knowing elder who is calm and peaceful and serene. Or the age-defying, super-young oldster who will “never say die.”
A constructive definition
There is a constructive and realistic definition of aging. Each of us needs to define it for ourselves. While the deficits and limitations of the aging body are real, there are opportunities for exploration—one might even say an adventure or quest into the unknown—that focus on an inward journey of learning. With age, we discover more about ourself and clarify our priorities, what’s important or meaningful in life. And as we come closer to our journey’s end, we are often drawn to ask transcendent questions about issues bigger than self, to seek universal truths.
A more balanced view of aging, therefore, involves recognition that despite—or perhaps because of—the challenges of growing old, we actually also tend to develop noteworthy insights or strengths.
Not everyone experiences all of these changes in self-understanding. But studies that have interviewed hundreds of people of advanced years reveal many commonalities that deserve acknowledgement.
Having lived for many years, we eventually know our basic self pretty well. We know who we are, how we fit in, and how we are unique. We know what we like and what we don’t like. We know what we are good at doing and what we aren’t good at.
A certain confidence comes with aging that is different from the confidence of youth. It is confidence based on experience. For instance, we know we have faced challenges in the past and made it through. We know we have skills we can draw upon. And we even know there are coping strategies we’ve tried in the past that we are better off avoiding in the future.
Self-acceptance The flip side of knowing who we are is knowing who we are not, and accepting that. “So I didn’t become a Nobel Laureate, oh well.” “Not a millionaire? That’s okay. An Olympic athlete? Gee.” Dreams of our youth were exciting, but we ended up going down different paths. And these paths gave us rich experiences we never would have dreamed of!
Less anxiety In our younger years, we tend to be filled with social anxiety. We worry about whether we will be able to live up to expectations. We care about what others think. By our later years, none of that matters so much.
“No one ever told me how nice it was to not be twenty!” The confidence of experience and the reduced anxiety that comes with it can open us up to trying new things. “What have I got to lose? Who cares if I don’t do it well. If I enjoy it, that’s what counts.” Pickleball anyone?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff—and it’s all small stuff.”
— Richard Carlson, author
Over the decades, we learn to trust our intuition. We know which of our reactions are fleeting and which have the ring of truth.
Brain studies show that older adults tend to be less emotionally “reactive” or volatile than people in their younger years. We tend to get more philosophical as we age. Based on experience, we know that some hills are worth the battle to conquer and others are not a hill to die on.
Losses bring opportunities
We know that some doors close, but often that is necessary for other doors to open. Losses usually carry the seeds of opportunity. We can often find a wider view. See a bigger picture. We are less fearful because we know we can adapt.
Wisdom: The wider view One of the advantages of having a storehouse of experience is that we have had exposure to many different situations. We can take a wider view of an event because we have seen similar things happen in other circumstances. Lessons learned in one context can be applied to another. This is the basis of creative thinking. And it serves elders well.
The brain waves of wisdom Brain activity patterns vary according to age:
Younger people tend to draw upon one hemisphere of the brain or the other.
Older adults show more activity in both sides at once.
There is a lot of energy being exchanged between the two hemispheres. As one scientist described it, the older brain is in “all-wheel drive.”
Saying that all older adults are wise would be untrue. But it may be that this sharing of information on many brain circuits explains the tendency for older adults to see the bigger picture.
How does happiness unfold over the course of a life? Many young adults think that levels of happiness are highest in youth, and then it’s a downhill slide. (In fact, that is the dominant message or perception of aging in our society.) Research studies, however, are revealing a surprising contradiction.
Age more important than wealth Across all income levels, different races, and urban/suburban and rural settings, there is an unmistakable trend in happiness. We are happiest as children, and then happiest in our old age. It’s the years in the middle where happiness is at its lowest. This pattern has come to be called the “U-shape of happiness.”
Less emotionally reactive
Some of the likely explanations for this experience include greater self-acceptance as we get older, reduced social anxiety, less emotional reactivity, and the ability to take a wide view, to keep things in perspective. Older adults seem to be less angry and less worried than their younger counterparts.
The challenge of our middle years The middle part of our journey—the bottom of the “U”—is often focused on productivity. We are strongly involved in our careers. We may be raising children. There is a lot to do and a thrill in doing it. But it can be challenging and stressful to fit it all in. Time is a constant struggle. And there is always the question of whether we can perform up to specs.
The advantages of age In our older years, we either did or didn’t achieve our goals. There is little to worry about in terms of the unknown. We may have pursued material comforts, only to learn that they were not as gratifying as we had hoped. We learn that not much is 100 percent right or 100 percent wrong in the world. That most everything is made up of a little of both.
We are good at adapting At this point in the journey, life has probably sent us a few curve balls. And if we aren’t experiencing health challenges yet, we likely have friends who are. It’s not hard to start seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Gratitude Over the course of our life, we very likely have seen fortunes change in an instant. These could be our fortunes or those of others. We tend to become grateful for things that we used to take for granted. And we come to appreciate the problems we don’t have.
Death is no longer an abstraction
In our later years, death becomes immensely personal and closer than it’s ever been before. We may not see it yet, but there is no doubt that it is on our horizon. We may get there before we think. And at the least, we realize we are lucky to have lived as long as we have.
The inner journey
The physical limitations of aging can seem like nature’s way of forcing us to look inward. When the external journey is not as available, the internal one beckons. It can be a very deep and rewarding experience. Frequently, it begins with reflection. And once one accepts the losses, whole vistas open up as possibilities when the glass is half full.
Compassion Compassion can become a more familiar companion as we age. Resentments we may have had about past grievances—with parents, spouses, children, or friends—can seem less important. Especially when put in the context of death and never seeing these loved ones again.
Perhaps walking a mile in the shoes of others—elders in our own lives—lends new insight about their behavior. Avenues for forgiveness may open up. As well, our children may experience their own growing empathy and be able to reach out to interact as friends, dropping their image of us as the omnipotent parent.
Moving into our later decades, we tend to think a lot about the meaning of our life. We trade a focus on material accomplishments for time spent in gratifying pursuits. This might be a second career with a focus on fulfillment. It might mean volunteering for a cause we believe in. Or it could mean simply living life very consciously in alignment with personal values.
When time is finite
Rather than view their advancing years as a prelude to death, many older adults come to realize that those years bring life more fully into focus. When we deeply recognize that our time is finite, we often start asking questions about how we want to use what time remains. No time like the present to identify priorities and start deeply living by them!
We may have a bucket list of activities yet to pursue. However, many people focus specifically on their legacy. What do we want to be remembered for? Is there something larger that we can do that will extend beyond our time on the planet?
Living by example
“Am I a bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the bulb is only the vehicle?”
— Joseph Campbell, mythologist
Whether one still has physical abilities or is limited more to living by example, there are tremendous opportunities to share our wisdom and insight. Even a person who is bedbound and not long for the world still has a light to shine. And for those fortunate enough to realize this while they still have strength and stamina, life in the later years—with all the advantages that come with age—can be extremely focused and fulfilling.
Gina has been extremely helpful in managing difficult situations with my mother who insists on aging out of state, far from any family members. She keeps my sister and me informed and allows for our peace of mind. She truly cares about my mother's well-being!
ACMS and Bonnie Shimko are literal dreams come true and I can't overstate that. This group of humans are truly everything. Looking after two ailing parents by myself for a while, I'd daydream about finding a competent and kind group to help me navigate that ever-complicating world. I was in charge of meds, safety, doc visits, clinic visits, short term/long term health goals and a hurricane of worries too numerous to mention. I searched everywhere, I tried different places... in every single outfit, caregiving was a task prone to slip-ups like any profession. However, my parents health is not a task to be completed- it's a living, changing reality. It's a newborn that requires constant monitoring and adjustments. Bonnie (as well as Leoni & Andrea) are so far beyond competent and kind that it makes my head spin on a weekly basis. Each one is as engaged as a family member. They attend every doc, hospital or clinic visit, they organise & automate meds and they're prompt & lovely. We had some recent ER and hospital stays and they showed up like my parents were the most important people in the world. I can't say enough about these folks, obviously. I love them. I would ABSOLUTELY spend my days worried if I didn't have them in my corner. If you'd worried you'd never find the kind of care your parents deserve- congratulations, it exists. The craziest part? I'd sell my stuff to look after my dad... yet I can't believe how modestly they charge for this level of care. I tell ya... dream come true.
My sisters and I were struggling with living in different states than our parents, and wanting our parents to continue living in the home that they built together. Our father is experiencing dementia and our mother is his caretaker, but is also declining in health. Bonnie and her team have been instrumental in allowing them to continue to stay at home by coordinating care for our mother. They attend appointments, assist with transportation, and communication for us. Bonnie is a fabulous resource for knowing providers, home care agencies, and other resources in the community. During Covid she was instrumental in getting our mother treatment in the hospital and being her advocate we none of our family was able to be with her. Bonnie has gone above and beyond several times. I truly don't know what we would do without Bonnie and her team. I don't think mom and dad would be able to be in their home. I could not recommend Arizona Care Management Solutions more.
When it became clear my mom was rapidly declining due to alzheimer's, and in an unsafe living situation, finding Bonnie from AZ Care Management Solutions was a literal God-send to our family. For months, we were beating our heads against a wall, as we had no idea how to proceed, searching for answers, as we were battling a very controlling/abusive husband as well. When we finally found Bonnie, she took a personal interest in my mom. She listened to our issues. She gave us direction, advice and calmed our hearts with her care and expertise. The very next day she was at my mom's home assessing the situation. She then took the time to work with us on a rapid plan of escape for mom. Bonnie then coordinated, and was on scene with us with APS and PD during the rescue. After getting mom to safety, Bonnie directed us to excellent legal counsel for mom's finances, getting her the best care possible, and ensuring all was legal from her escape to conservator/guardianship. Bonnie's knowledge, experience in this arena and love for others made her and AZ Care Management Solutions a literal life saver for my mom.Since my mom needed 24 hour care, we put her in a very nice care home, and hired Gina from AZ Care Mgmt Solutions as an advocate, who also has a heart for others, and has been seeing my mom twice a week to check on her status, entertain, play games, paint fingernails, coordinate outings, etc. This take tremendous pressure off of us, who can't get there as often. Gina also has natural ability and experience to relate and connect with alzheimer's patients that we don't. My mom loves Gina, and would not have adjusted nearly as well to the change without Gina's help.Thank you and God Bless all of you at AZ Care Management Solutions.
AZ Care Management Solutions sponsored a caregiver day of renewal on 5/6/23. A vendor fair, chair massages, and presentations along with a light breakfast, lunch and giveaways were included. Thank you!
After my mom fell and broke her hip, I was alone in trying to figure out how to best care for her in this maze of what is the senior health care industry.I had been trying to pull together what felt like 1000 pieces of disparate information......places to see, insurance companies, doctors to call, forms to be filled out, questions to answer. I was completely overwhelmed and under much stress.I am so incredibly thankful that I finally called Bonnie and scheduled a consultation. She was clear, knowledgable and so understanding. She immediately started making phone calls to find out the answers to some of my questions, and knew the answers to the other ones.I ended up asking her for further help and I will be forever grateful I did.She helped me move through a very difficult time with her knowledge, presence and help. She was there when I needed her and she knew exactly what to do. And she is fair, compassionate and has great integrity.My mom is now in a perfect place for her, and it all happened with as much ease as was possible.Thank you Bonnie, and everyone else we interacted with at AZ CareManagement.I don't know how I would have managed this journey without you.
Bonnie and Bob at Arizona Care Management went way above and beyond in helping me place my sister in a care facility to live out her last few months. Bonnie set up a medical transport from Newport Oregon to Arizona so that my sister could spend her final days looking at the beautiful scenery she cherished so much as a park ranger. The home in Cottonwood was well staffed and professionally managed and Bonnie and Bob made sure everything ran smoothly as I am on the east coast and care coordination was difficult to manage for me. Thank you both again for all you have done for my sister and our family during this difficult time.
I own two assisted living homes in the area and have worked with Bonnie, Bob and their staff several times. They always have the best interest of their client in mind when finding a long term solution for the family. It has always been my pleasure to accept one of their clients into my home. They continue to stay in touch with the family and assist them with any need they might have.If you are in need of an Elder Care advisor, I wholeheartedly recommend Arizona Care Management Solutions! If you live out of our area, you can count on them to fill in when you can't be here in person!
I live in Massachusetts and my 92 year old dad lived in Sedona. I was called in to take over his care because he could no longer live independently. I literally did not know where to turn. A social worker recommended Bonnie and her team to me. What a relief. They helped me get the necessary paperwork to handle his affairs while also finding him a safe and loving environment where he got the care he needed. He thrived there for nearly 6 months. During that time, I was kept abreast of his health and care by Holly. He enjoyed his visits with her and the treats she brought with her! I highly recommend Arizona Care Management to anyone needing help with their loved ones. They are excellent and I’m so glad they were recommended to me.
As the owners of GENERATIONS SENIOR LIVING LLC, we have the opportunity to work with Bonnie, Bob and the rest of the team at AZ Care Management Solutions with some frequency. Bonnie is absolutely the hardest working person we know! She has the knowledge base and the support team behind her to truly advocate for your loved one and they do a very good job! From assisting with POA paperwork, in-home care, assisting with MD appointments, or actual placement of your family member into a facility...... these guys can get it done!!! We highly recommend them.... Josh and Jamie Elliott
Most of us do not have any experience or training on how to make decisions or select assisted living accommodations. This group was a life saver in selecting a care giver, legal restructuring and finding a home. This was my first time dealing with dementia and I was guided down the path with their professional staff.
When I was having a hard time getting my dad's assisted living place to respond to his needs Gina stepped in with a firm hand and made things happen on Dad's behalf. She is kind, dedicated, tenacious, and extremely experienced and knowledgeable in this field. Bonnie has helped facilitate communication between me and a family member from whom I am estranged to make sure that all family members have access to the information about Dad that they want to have. AZ Care Management has been absolutely VITAL to me in helping me get difficult things done for Dad. I can't imagine navigating these challenging waters without them.
When our daughter was moved to Cottonwood for more extensive care, my husband and I were not able to travel for frequent dr. visits. We were not able, because we are both in our 80s, to visit as frequently as we wanted. AZ Cares takes her to appointments. They also provide very personable and capable assistants who take her on outings to provide social and emotional support for her in our absence. I cannot praise them enough for the support and help they have given our daughter and us. They are a blessing to us!
Arizona Care Management Solutions did a great job keeping my mom as safe as possible in her home for the last year. Once Gina came on board, she managed to do what I thought would be impossible - she convinced my mom to transition to living arrangements that would provide the care she really needed! Gina held her hand every step of the way, even through some VERY challenging situations. This lady has a heart of gold and can get things done!
As a Geriatrics/Internal Medicine specialist I relied on Bonnie and staffto find the best outpatient care for our patients. Her heart is passionate for the care of our seniors, and regards that as her mission in life. And I wasalways confident that Care Management Solutions would find the bestoptions for our families. God bless her! Dr. Paul C. Hanson of Cottonwood Internal Medicine
Bonnie, Bob and the team at AZ Care Management Solutions simply go above and beyond as advocates for seniors. Whether you may need assistance coordinating care, evaluating local facilities for placement, creating a plan for aging well or many other elder care services, you will find no organization more qualified or prepared to assist you than AZ Care Management Solutions. As a local Medicare insurance broker for several years, it is paramount that my clients have the right people in their corner. I have - and will continue to - recommend Bonnie and Bob and their team to any of my clients without hesitation.
Serving Verde Valley, Prescott & Quad Cities, and Phoenix