The Complexities of Life after Seventy
Fifteen percent or twenty-three million persons in the United States are presently over seventy years of age. The Complexity of Aging approaches difficulties that come with the oldest age. Often inevitable and seldom anticipated, these oldest-old persons encounter alterations in health, physical abilities, strengthening or impairment of personality traits, and immense losses of family and social relationships; They are prime candidates for active/passive abuse or neglect. Confronted with questions as: How shall I/we find the best home for these years? How will feelings change? How can I remain independent? How will living alone affect me? Yet with such immense changes, the oldest-old persons have a vigor for life, they are positive in their view of life, they seek resolutions that feel right, and they accept difficulties with an ability to compensate for compelled changes in life.
My interest in psychology was stimulated by observing the relationships that my six siblings had with our parents. After receiving a doctorate from Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, I have taught and practiced clinical in several universities, ending up at Stanford University School of Medicine. Retirement enlivened an interest in sharing aging experiences as I faced them (now 95 years old). There was little literature on the emotional challenges of aging; we know our emotional life does not age. Feelings become more complex and better understood, and increasingly positive for the person.