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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Old people are not always unhappy or lonely


Here is a photo of my mother, age 94, taken a couple weeks ago on a day warm enough for her to sit outside. She had all four of her daughters visiting, which was a little overwhelming. We asked if she minded so much chatter around her and she smiled, saying she enjoyed hearing all of us having a good time together.

I attended a conference last week in St-Gallen, Switzerland, on aging. I learned much about the demographics (a huge number of us are getting old rapidly!) of aging, but also about the realities of old age. I read a report by Dutch researchers who said something I think we would all do well to reflect on: old people are unhappy and lonely in relation to their expectations. An older person will feel let down, miserable and be unhappy if she or he expects to be surrounded all day by laughing family members who pay a good deal of attention to the wise elder, but who in reality are off working or taken up much of the time with their own lives.

People (and I think this is not just the elderly) who are realistic and generous in their expectations of others are more likely to be happy and to attract others to them.

Easier said than done, of course.

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