The Ups and Downs of Growing Older: Beyond Seventy Years of Living by Dr. Viola Mecke is a new book that addresses the physical changes, as well as the challenges individuals and families may encounter in daily living, communication, and relationships as one ages. It combines Dr. Mecke’s professional background as a clinical psychologist and psychology professor with her personal experience as an aging adult (she is 94!) to help others navigate this often trying time in life.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I have written professionally, but writing and telling stories has been a part of me since I was 5. I had to entertain my younger brother and sister with stories while mother was working. There are also personal reasons, I was watching myself grow old. I had also watched my parents grow older. It dawned on me that a lot of things happen that people don’t really know about because so many of us have not grown up in households where there are aging grandparents. So, people are taken by surprise when the changes of aging come to them. These changes can come slowly and gradually at first. But, when you get to be older than 60 or 65 they are just as likely to come suddenly, and people may not understand what happens to them.
Is there one topic on aging you feel is most critical to pay attention to?
Yes, and this is the change within yourself. This is most important because it impacts self-confidence. Your body is changing, but often your perception of your abilities has not. The loss of independence is the one most likely to affect how you feel about yourself.
What advice do you have for someone that is entering the 70+ stage of life?
Stay in touch with what you are feeling. Stay in touch with what you need, and feel free to express yourself. Do the things that make you feel good.
What is your greatest challenge with aging?
Physically, it is my sense of balance. I still walk 1-2 miles a day, but I use a walking stick. I know the day is coming, probably sooner than I want, when it will be with a walker or wheelchair. Mentally, it is always a challenge. I can never learn enough, but a lot of people stop seeking knowledge.
Your greatest joy?
I think for me talking to younger people is great, and being with friends is fun. Visits with people that let one talk freely.
By Tami Pyles
P.S. Want to learn more about capturing joy when loving someone with dementia? Join us at our event on September 21st! RSVP here.