By Lauren Kolacki
Erik Erikson was a Psychologist known for his theory of psychosocial development. This is an eight-step theory that analyzes situations that happen to us at certain ages, that contribute to the person we eventually become. “Ego Integrity vs. Despair” is the eighth and final stage of Erikson’s theory, where an individual reflects and asks themselves, “Did I live a meaningful life?” He claims that a person enters this stage at age 65 and remains in it until death. However, super-agers invalidate this theory.
A super-ager is characterized as an energetic individual, exhibiting robust health who highlights optimism, resilience and perseverance, contrary to other people their age. This type of person says the last stage of your life doesn’t have to start at 65, in fact, it is an opportunity for your life to really begin.
As we get older, our bodies experience pronounced declines. Some people can’t move as quick or think as sharply, but studies show, embracing new challenges may be the key to preserving both physical and psychological function. Changing your life approach can be done by adding specific habits in to your everyday routine. These qualities can be learned and developed by anyone.
￼You mustn’t feel bad about your life. Social media has inflamed our infatuation with comparing our lives to others, which only results in negative emotions. Reflecting on Erikson’s theory, at this age you begin to look back at your life, you may experience feelings of pride or regret. Let these feelings fuel you, this is a contingency to accomplish tasks you said you would years ago. A chance to finish that novel or finally plant that garden.
Move out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to cut toxic people out of your life and meet new friends. Just because they have been around for a long period of time doesn’t mean they are positive influences. Letting people in can be intimidating, especially at an older age, but the joy that can come from it is encouraging. Super-agers don’t limit themselves to just people their own age, this opens doors to finding those with similar interest and hobbies.
Find a passion, like I said, finish that novel or plant a garden. Reading contributes to your mental capacity, gardening to your mobility, game night to your social life, etc. Filling your day with joyous activities inevitably, adds joy to your life
As you age, many will remind you to slow down a bit, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop all together. Continuing to exercise has substantial benefits. “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it”. The less you activate your muscles, the weaker they become. This can result in more falls or accidents. As metabolism naturally slows with age, exercise helps you to maintain your weight, decreasing your risk of health issues.
Don’t believe that you have surpassed the age to learn new things. Super-agers refuse to accept the idea of sitting home all day. Say ‘yes’ more, volunteer more, make active choices to change your life. By getting out of the house, you open yourself to the possibility to connect with new people and learn new things, this is what keeps the brain active and your mind young, you never know what you will learn about yourself.
Continue to present yourself. Just because you are old, doesn’t mean you have to dress like it. By putting yourself together you will feel more confident and attract similar energy. When you do have those days when you are feeling down, be open to the idea of seeing a therapist. Psychotherapy wasn’t as common as it is now, so very few elders are intrigued by it. This can help you to process thoughts and feelings, as well as, give you healthy coping mechanisms for any problems you may be experiencing.
By implementing some of these beneficial habits into your everyday routine, you open yourself up though the possibility of becoming a super-ager. Aging is inevitable, but how you age is up to you.