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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

The Secret To Aging Gracefully

  • Courtesy of Friends of the Elderly Ireland
    Courtesy of Friends of the Elderly Ireland
  • Courtesy of Friends of the Elderly Ireland
    Courtesy of Friends of the Elderly Ireland

Author Name

Isabel Bowen

Author Program

Ireland: Social Sciences

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major

Psychology

The secret to aging gracefully…

As our trip progresses and everybody starts getting more comfortable with their routines and living in Dublin, I have noticed a tendency of all the young students to hang out only with other young students. This is most likely due to a variety of things but in general, could be due to the fact that we as a society find comfort in the things we know. This all changed, however, once I stepped foot into the Friends of The Elderly on charming Bolton Street. The area is of the more visibly impoverished in Dublin but has some of the most character and personality of the areas I have visited so far. On Wednesdays, in particular, the mood shifts from slightly dreary to full of life due to the influx of elderly Irish people swarming the buildings in preparation for a lot of dancing, socializing and of course tea and biscuits.

While we were setting up the chairs and warming up the kettle, we decided to break off and start getting to know the crowds, as we were now going to be regulars at this social event. I am so glad we did. The three of us met a delightfully cheery old woman eating a banana and flirting with the interns. She finally asked us over and immediately wanted to know how old we thought she was. Timidly, I answered “75?” and she began to chuckle. “You’re just being nice!” she said, “I am actually 84 years old and I’ve been living on my own for 33 years”. We all stood back in shock because this tiny, full of life lady couldn’t possibly be that old! We just didn’t believe it.  She began noticing our confusion and boldly asked: “Do you want to know how I age so gracefully?”. Obviously, we were all on the edge of our seats and eagerly said yes, please!

She placed her half-eaten banana on the table and gathered us closely. She said: “Go for a walk every day, you don’t have to kill yourselves just go for a nice little walk and enjoy it. I eat healthily and sometimes instead of wine, I’ll get a glass of water!”. The most important point she stressed to use was to have a positive attitude. When looking at all the negative things in our world today, it begins to affect you physically. To keep our youth and cheerful dispositions we must take all that negativity and transform it into a positive entity which in turn will fuel us into our old age and make us look merely 70 as opposed to our actual age, whatever it might be.

Most importantly I learned to listen and learn. I definitely don’t know everything about the world and definitely have had a consistently positive attitude in my years. There is a lot left to learn but for now, I am treating this little bit of wisdom as deeply precious and will hold it with me even when I am no longer at my organization.