Psychosocial Aspects of Wisdom Years – Cor Vitae

Cor Vitae May 19, 2021

Wisdom Years in the presence of the young
(religious life for 40 years and beyond)
Psycho-social dynamics: spirituality of aging

The elderly and the sick among us are among our most precious gems. They are the living heritage of our Charism, Spirituality and Mission. To behold them is to gaze at the unfolding history of the transmission of the Chevalier Family Tradition, embodied in their religious life and ministry and appropriated accordingly in their unique personalities. Exposed to so many places, full of life experiences, prayerful reflections and profound insights, they have become reservoirs of wisdom, local histories and developed consciences. That is why many people of different ages go to them for counsel, confession and help for solutions to pastoral problems. And they also want to be mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers to younger religious and ministers. Each one may ask: what legacy will one leave behind? How does one want to be remembered?

Thus, in the presence/hearing of younger religious and ministers, they will have conversations and sharing of their life stories and insights into life-experiences. Then they will focus on the continuing process of ageing gracefully, gratefully and graciously at the time when one can be more sensitive and critical of others. There is an opportunity for conversations on the continuing healing and growth and wholesome integration of one’s life in the time of sickness, isolation, traumatic histories, and joys, serenity and sense of achievement and deepened prayer life and sense for God. What I’m missing and what else would I like to do and be today?

They will be prepared for the possibility of death, appropriating at this stage the charism, spirituality and mission of the Founder, especially journeying with Fr. Jules Chevalier in his old age, a man of prayer, wisdom and spirituality as he prepared himself to meet God face to face. What where the last words of Fr. Chevalier to us before his birth to eternal life?

Aging is associated with changes in dynamic biological, physiological, environmental, psychological, behavioural, and social processes. Some age-related changes are benign, such as greying hair. Others result in declines in function of the senses and activities of daily life and increased susceptibility to and frequency of disease, frailty, or disability. In fact, advancing age is the major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases in humans.

Behavioural and psychological factors — for example, physical activity, smoking and other health behaviours, cognitive and social engagement, personality, and psychosocial stress — play a critical role in health across the lifespan. Studies have shown that up to 50% of preventable deaths in the U.S. can be attributed to adverse health behaviours such as smoking as well as unhealthy diet that result in obesity. Social factors, such as social relationships and socioeconomic circumstances, have a similarly important impact on health and well-being. For example, subjective feelings of loneliness are known to be a risk factor for serious functional declines and even death, and converging lines of evidence from multiple cross-national epidemiological studies indicate that social isolation is a major risk factor for morbidity and premature mortality. And the relationship between personality and aging-related outcomes has been well documented: Conscientiousness is related both to longevity and to the development of AD, and neuroticism is linked to health in both positive and negative ways.

Along with new physical, social, and emotional challenges, increasing age brings changes in cognition and emotion that have impacts on subjective well-being, social relationships, decision making, and self-control. How individuals respond to these challenges has implications for their independence, cognitive function, social relationships, mental health, physical function, and economic well-being.

The process of human aging is complex and individualized, occurs in the biological, psychological and social sphere. Biological changes that occur with age in the human body affect mood, attitude to the environment, physical condition and social activity, and designate the place of seniors in the family and society. Psychological ageing refers to human awareness and adaptability to the ageing process. Among adaptation attitudes we can differentiate constructive, dependence, hostile towards others and towards self-attitudes.

The Behavioural and Social Dynamics of Aging Well

George L.Maddox, Ph.D.

Evidence that older adults have high rates of chronic conditions accompanied by functional disability, consume health and social services at a high rate.

The bad news from research has been that individuals could be expected to live longer but they could not depend on dying conveniently with functional capacity and financial resources intact. The social institutions through which a society does its essential business of transportation, housing, retirement at the end of a work career, personal income maintenance, and providing essential health and social care for elderly citizens have been seriously challenged.

The good news from behavioural and social research on aging, however, has delivered increasingly positive evidence that aging well is possible for the substantial majority of older adults.

  • The most significant surprise is that 8 or 10 older adults report no functional disability at all and 95% live in the community.
  • A persistent 5% of older adults reside in nursing homes
  • For both men and women, arthritis and circulatory problems are the most totally disabling conditions. Total disablement is the experience of 30% of older adults with circulatory problems and 26% of those with arthritis. For both conditions, women are more likely than men to be totally disabled.
  • Senility, an outmoded term that persists to indicate cognitive deficit in late life, ranks fourth (15%).
  • Depression, a common mental health problem in adulthood, has not been found to be consistently elevated in older populations. However, when present, both depression and cognitive impairment increase the risk of functional impairment from chronic conditions, complicate the management of chronic conditions, and increase the risk of extraordinary outcomes such as suicide among older males (Stewart et al., 1988; Roberts et al., 1997; Reynolds et al., 1998).

Ageing Process and Physiological Changes

By Shilpa Amarya, Kalyani Singh and Manisha Sabharwal. July 4th 2018

To the young, ageing is exciting. Middle age is the time when people notice the age-related changes like greying of hair, wrinkled skin and a fair amount of physical decline. Slow and steady physical impairment and functional disability are noticed resulting in increased dependency in the period of old age. It has its own dynamics, much beyond human control. However, this process of ageing is also subject to the constructions by which each society makes sense of old age. It is expected that by 2020, 70% of the world’s elderly population will be in developing countries.