Aging in Hope

Linda Shannon-Hills

Most of my life, when I would hear someone say, “I hope this will work” or “Our group is hopeful to finish this project,” a feeling of pessimism or lack of confidence popped into my mind. My goal was the knowledge that I could always get it done; I was positive it would be a successful outcome. Was I kidding myself? In the back of my mind, was I only hoping I could get it done?

Once I retired and began to look for ways to use my skills and find purpose in my life again, confidence to get things done was still my mantra. I would jump into volunteer work with the idea that I could make it better. I would always tell myself, “I am very good at what I do, and I should not second guess myself; get in there with all the energy required to accomplish the goal.” This works fine for projects, but do I have the same confidence about myself as I age?

When we moved to Arizona, I found that various medical issues started popping up, and I was meeting more people in my community, around my age, having health issues as well. I started wondering if the confidence I once had in my work would become the optimism needed as I aged.

I read an article a few years back, which stated that hope is not the same as optimism. Optimism is being positive about outcomes. Hope, however, isn’t always sure that the outcome will be positive, but it keeps people engaged and moving forward.

I started to ask questions like, what is aging? How should I react to it? Am I ready for the challenges of aging? Can I age in place? These questions are no longer academic for me. We all want to live longer, but none of us want to grow old. Should hope now become my mantra?

Aging is not just about our health; it also means we lose acquaintances, lifelong friends, and our family to distance, various illnesses, and death. Memories alone cannot fill the loss of those connections. Is there hope that we will someday be together again? Life and death are intimately linked.

Losing the ability to do many of the activities from my past has made aging more challenging. Finding new activities that will bring personal satisfaction is a constant.

My Wisdom Circle has allowed me to share, with those in the circle, my thoughts and concerns about aging and to learn how others have coped with aging. It is my hope that I can continue to learn, stay as healthy as I can, and maintain those friendships the best I can.

So how do we cope with aging? Positive attitude and hope.