Seniors Share Insights for Living Well at Any Age

Author: Louis J. Woolf

New book from HSL senior living resident dispels stereotypes of what it means to age

Hebrew SeniorLife’s tagline – the power to redefine aging— captures the spirit of many of the residents who live in our senior living communities, as well as patients in our care.

Stereotypes associated with aging are too often negative and depict growing older as a time in life when individuals start to slow down, becoming weaker in body, mind and spirit. At HSL this myth could not be further from the truth. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn about a senior in our community who defies these ingrained assumptions about what it means to grow old. Not only do many of our seniors hone life-long talents, they also embark on new projects, and share their accumulated wisdom in many ways with our employees, each other, and students of all ages through our teaching and multigenerational programs.

NewBridge on the Charles Independent Living resident Irving I. Silverman is a perfect example. He recently published a book titled Aging Wisely...Wisdom of Our Elders. Along with his daughter Ellen Beth Siegel, Irving assembled, edited, wrote, and curated a collection of essays, which he describes as "a unique resource that provides a personal perspective on the physical, emotional, and social aspects of growing old from those who have made the journey, as well as those who work with them."

In his book, Irving brings voice to his experience in collaboration with his HSL family. As a NewBridge resident at 97 years young, he fully embraces this new chapter in his life in an environment designed to support his life goals. I found the book to be a treasure trove of insights not only from Irving, but from those who value the gift that is the wisdom of our elders. The collection includes essays from a physician, from a social worker, from a student who participates in our multigenerational programs, and from me and other HSL staff as well.

I was honored to use my chapter to share my perspective. What we think of as retirement years should not be retirement from anything, but rather a time of discovery and enrichment. We encourage our seniors to fully engage with life and all it continues to offer, and to form new, deep and important friendships. This is more than a hypothetical idea, as you can tour any of our communities and you will find older adults doing exactly that.

In the book's forward, NewBridge Executive Director Steve Colwell reflects on how often he says to himself, "If only I knew then what I know now," describing Irving's book as "a collection of 'know nows' for those open enough to learn young."

Irving is an example of many of the seniors we serve, and they see the full potential of life as an ageless journey. I encourage everyone, at any age, to realize that the myths you hold about growing old will, over time, vastly limit your potential in older age. Pick up Irving’s book to discover what’s actually possible.

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About Louis J. Woolf

President and Chief Executive Officer, Hebrew SeniorLife

Louis J. Woolf is president and CEO of Harvard Medical School-affiliate Hebrew SeniorLife, an integrated system of health care, senior living, research, and teaching that serves more than 3,000 Greater Boston seniors each day and is committed to redefining the...

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