Having no regrets and aging gracefully are myths. No one really says I’m age 60 or 70, etc. and looking back, I have no regrets. At best, we make peace with our regrets and move forward to a better life. The latest excitement over saying age 80 is the new age 60 is a marketing ploy to make more sales. Why can’t I be the best me possible without being told it’s better to be someone else’s vision of me?
Aging is an ongoing period of growth and personal development. Understanding and facilitating the developmental needs of Silver Sages (ages 50+ with an emphasis on age 65+) can be difficult because every age band is focused on their own developmental issues and can’t see ahead to the next stage.
Silver Sages let go of the old duties and responsibilities as they experiment with retirement changes. It is a time of looking back, while striving to understand the significance of those experiences from the past. Then recognizing what is being left behind and letting go.
These many different evolving perspectives can lead to breakdowns in communication between generations and even within the same generation.
When communicating with Silver Sages do you ever think, maybe we’re not speaking the same language? Do you ask yourself why doesn’t she understand I only want to help, but there’s just no talking to her. Or have you become frustrated saying he won’t listen to me. The issue is control. Improve the communications between the generations by understanding the dynamics of the senior stages of development.
Seniors often see their children as meddling in their lives and personal affairs. It’s not easy, but sometimes it is a necessity. Discussions about finances, health, safety, driving and long-range plans are not simple issues for the goal of a calm family talk. For decades these highly charged emotional issues have been regarded by the parents as “none of your business.”
Silver Sages feel a strong need to maintain control over their own lives. Aging presents events to deal with such as exiting the workforce, the death of friends and family members and the loss of longtime family pets. Debilitating physical challenges include problems with hearing, eyesight and energy levels. Also the ever present worries about the financial future. This is just a starting list of potential losses. As a result, Silver Sages will often fight to maintain control over the remaining aspects of their lives—even if some things are beyond their ability to control.
Adult children or caretakers can start by choosing one major issue, such as taking over bill paying. Ask permission, by phrasing it in a non-threatening manner. Offer to help by explaining how the new bill payer system at the bank makes it so much easier to pay bills. Offer to facilitate the process by sitting down twice a month to work together to pay the bills from their bank account. Explain they will have complete control over the process. They will make the decisions and you will do the work involved.
We make allowances for the communication babbling habits of young children and the teen aloofness, but we are less tolerant of the communication habits of older adults. Some people tend to reinforce the idea that Silver Sages are oppositional and irritating. Silver Sages, just like infants or teens or any other age group, are on a journey in a new and unfamiliar world. Some days all the technological changes overwhelm me and at other times I’m right there asking for more training. One of my goals is to use the communication tools in order to see these behaviors not as barriers, confrontational tactics, or signs of decline, but keys to development for this stage of life.
Patience is the key to all communication for all ages. Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize when it’s time to walk away to reboot the serenity. Frustrations occur with all age groups, but it seems more difficult with Silver Sages. We are expected to be perfect and sometimes we are prejudged to be deficient from the start. I know I do expect perfection from myself and from an imperfect world. Then I face the reality which reinforces the truth of perfect not existing. I pull out all the patience I can find for myself and for others.
Patience is the ability to idle your motor
when you feel like stripping your gears.