The Gift of Growing “Old”

It’s easy to remember your birthday, the day you graduated from school, and the day you exchanged vows. You probably remember when you went on your first date and danced at your prom. Certainly you remember the day your children were born. But do you remember when you got “old”?

Unlike other memorable milestones in life, growing “old” is elusive. Many of us spend our lives in good health often without a second thought given to how we’ll get groceries at age 90. At some point in middle age and beyond, we’re forced to ask the hard questions: How do I maintain my health? When should I stop driving? Who will cook for me? Who will care for me? If you find these question unsettling, you’re not alone.

Senior Living Lifestyle Choices

When we’re in our teens, 20 is old. When we’re 80 years old, 70 is young. Funny how that works.

In honor of Older American’s Month in May, we thought it would be appropriate to look at what it means to be “old” in America. Whether you’re 40 or 80, a lot has changed. Older Americans today have more lifestyle choices, more long-term care options, and improved access to advanced medicine and technology to support healthy aging.

In the U.S., older adults have a higher survival rate after age 75 than most countries as well as higher rates of cancer screening and survival. Add to that better control of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower stroke mortality, lower rates of smoking, and higher average household income. In short, they are living longer than our ancestors ever were.

This year, the theme of Older American’s Month is Aging Unbound—a topic that offers a rare opportunity to discuss diverse aging experiences and ways to combat stereotypes associated with growing older, or what some call, “old age.”

Nowhere are stereotypes easier to debunk than in senior living.

Senior Stereotypes Debunked

Seniors are often unfairly caricatured as being dour and cranky. At Sonata Senior Living, our experience is very different. With built-in dining, social and health care services, senior living removes uncertainty from life, freeing older adults to focus more on doing things that make them happy.

In senior living, older adults seem to have an uncanny ability to laugh at life. It may be that this surprising “senior humor” is the product of simply having faced many of life’s struggles and prevailed. Whatever the cause, it is our experience that seniors are more fun than those still caught up in careers.

Seniors are also cast as feeble and frail. While that certainly may be the case for some, we’ve noticed that with more time to pursue lifelong passions, and more opportunities to take up new ones, seniors actually feel and behave younger in senior living communities. In addition to defying all negative stereotypes of “old age,” senior living actually improves quality of life in three fundamental ways, including physical fitness, social fitness, and nutrition.

Senior living helps older adults stay active and vibrant well into their 80s and beyond. In senior living, it is truly never too late to try something new. In fact, some studies have shown moving to a senior living community extends life by as much as 10 years!

Older adults who are isolated and live at home alone are often regarded as lonely and depressed. Senior living obviously cannot cure disease, but it can reduce loneliness, which has been linked to anxiety, stress, depression, and hypertension.

An active and engaged retirement lifestyle in a senior living community like Sonata Senior Living promotes healthy aging, wellness and safety, providing access to essential services and care. Mostly, senior living provides abundant opportunities to meet new people and make new friends, which many would agree, makes life more enjoyable.

Being Senior Isn’t All Bingo

Despite stereotypes, senior living isn’t all bingo. Senior living communities like Sonata Senior Living are explicitly designed to nurture residents’ interests, hobbies, and pursuits, whether old passions or new, in subjects such as art, literature, history and music. Plus, staying active and engaged is proven to promote health, wellness and longevity.

According to Lorrie Kovac, VP of Clinical Services at Sonata Senior Living, growing older doesn’t mean you have to slow down. It means you’ve gained the experience and knowledge to enjoy life to its fullest.

Bingo is still an option, if that’s your thing, but so are classes, lectures, and seminars on topics as diverse as birding, genealogy, automobiles and antiques.

In fact, in senior living, age gives us a passport to pursue any passion, so long as it’s on the daily life enrichment calendar, which is typically packed full of a variety of interesting activities and events that appeal to older adults.

In many ways, being “old” affords us the luxury of time to enrich your life and follow your passions.

Adapt To Every Age

With age comes health issues and concerns. According to The National Council on Aging, nearly 95% of older adults have at least one chronic condition. Like it or not, most of us will develop a health issue or illness at some point in our lives.

In a New York Times article entitled How To Age Gracefully, the secret to successful aging has more to do with recognizing one’s issues and adapting accordingly, and less to do with resisting it. In an era of botox and fillers, this may be easier said than done.

Unlike shopping centers with one maybe two handicapped parking spaces, and dated, commercial buildings with ill-fitted elevators, senior living communities adapt to residents’ health challenges instead of the other way around.

As health declines, the world as we know it can become an unsafe place. Senior living levels the playing field so to speak by incorporating features that younger people take for granted. Safety is built into every practice, protocol and architectural feature. Wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, wide easy-to-grasp handrails, roomy elevators, anti-skid flooring to prevent falls, enhanced disinfection and touchless technology to improve hygiene, and too many others to list, are built into the community, senior apartments and common spaces.

Accessibility is a priority in senior living community design, not an afterthought. This makes it far easier to adapt to any age.

Growing “Old” in America

At Sonata Senior Living, we believe aging is a blessing. We should all be so lucky to one day age into an “old lady” or “old man.” Especially in senior living, stereotypes of “old age” are misnomers, unsuitably characterizing aging as sedentary, lonely, and unhealthy.

Conversely, older adults tend to be more active, social and healthy in senior living, improving quality of life and longevity. Still, physical and cognitive decline has a way of disrupting our lives when we least expect it and aging requires us to be open to receiving help if and when we need it.

Embracing all the good and bad that comes with age may be what we most need to age gracefully.

At Sonata Senior Living, we’ve spent a great deal of time caring for older adults in their retirement or so-called “Golden Years,” and regard aging as a gift. Living a full life and then living a fuller life in senior living is often a surprising, yet beautiful gift to give yourself or your loved one.

Learn six strategies that help older adults understand the advantages of assisted living and schedule a visit today to a Sonata Senior Living community near you.


An innovative new concept in memory care, Serenades For Her caters to a woman’s need for the utmost privacy and comfort. All-female neighborhoods feature robust social programming with specialized dementia care to create a sense of sisterhood and mutual support for women.