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A Box of Chocolates

Aging With Dignity

Often, senior adults discuss aging in therapy with me. Certainly, there are inevitable changes; however, I contend it is increasingly important to prioritize dignity. Aging with dignity is a multifaceted concept that encompasses physical, emotional and societal aspects of growing older.

Physical Health and Well-Being

First and foremost, aging with dignity involves maintaining physical health and well-being. This requires proactive measures such as staying active, eating a balanced diet, and attending regular medical check-ups. Engaging in regular exercise not only promotes physical health but also fosters independence and a sense of vitality. Additionally, proper nutrition is essential for supporting the body’s changing needs and preventing age-related illnesses.

Emotional Well-Being

Aging with dignity involves preserving independence and autonomy for as long as possible. This eases anxiety and depression. The World Health Organization defines dignity as “an individual’s inherent value and worth, adding that it is strongly linked to respect, recognition, self-worth, and the possibility of making choices” (Nursing Ethics). As individuals age, they may encounter various challenges such as loss of loved ones, health issues, or changes in mobility. Coping with these challenges requires emotional strength and adaptability. Cultivating a strong network of family, friends, and community resources can provide crucial emotional support and companionship. 

Society’s Role

Society plays a crucial role in promoting aging with dignity. This includes creating age-friendly environments that support older adults’ needs and preferences. Accessible transportation, housing options, healthcare services, and recreational activities can enhance older adults’ quality of life and promote social inclusion. Recognizing and valuing the wisdom, experience, and contributions of older individuals enriches society as a whole.

Anthony Hopkins offered his brilliant interpretation of Mario de Andrade’s poem on aging with dignity and grace:

“I know that I have less to live than I have lived. I feel like a child who was given a box of chocolates. He enjoys eating it, and when he sees that there is not much left, he starts to eat them with a special taste. I have no time for endless lectures on public laws – nothing will change. And there is no desire to argue with fools who do not act according to their age. And there’s no time to battle the gray. I don’t attend meetings where egos are inflated and I can’t stand manipulators. I am disturbed by envious people who try to vilify the most capable to grab their positions, talents and achievements. I have too little time to discuss headlines – my soul is in a hurry. Too few candies left in the box. I’m interested in human people. People who laugh at their mistakes are those who are successful, who understand their calling and don’t hide from responsibility. Who defends human dignity and wants to be on the side of truth, justice, righteousness. This is what living is for. I want to surround myself with people who know how to touch the hearts of others. Who, through the blows of fate, was able to rise and maintain the softness of the soul. Yes, I hustle, I hustle to live with the intensity that only maturity can give. I’ll eat all the candy I have left – they’ll taste better than the ones I already ate. My goal is to reach the end in harmony with myself, my loved ones and my conscience. I thought I had two lives, but it turned out to be only one, and it needs to be lived with dignity.” 

The moral of this poem is: EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!!

Reference:  Nurs Ethics. 2022 Mar; 29(2): 413–424.