Intellectual Challenges and IndependenceMay 31st, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Dr Jerry Elrod's Senior Moments Blog
Most senior citizens deplore the idea of losing independence. Moving from a long time residence, losing the privilege to drive, having to be in the presence of a caretaker or to live in an assisted living facility, all offer insult to the independent character, mind and desire of the senior citizen.
Sustaining independence really means two or three considerations must be given serious thought. Senior health, not unllike ordinary health at any age, requires discipline, personal caretaking, healthy diet, exercise, socialization, mental stimulation, interaction, a mind and body willing to be pushed to and beyond some limits.
High on the list of these considerations to achieve and maintain independence is developing means for meeting and accepting Intellectual Challenges. If the lights are on, but no one is home, that vacancy will soon take its toll on the whole of one’s existence. A vacant house, left without attention and care, soon begins to show deterioration. For those who saw the wonderful HBO presentation “Grey Gardens,” that is the classic example of the analogy. Both the structure and those who lived in it were met with slow decline and eventual decay, with the daughter finally freeing herself from bondage and doing the things she had long wished to do.
Intellectual Challenge is likely the most critical of considerations as one ages. Losing mind power, giving into the slovenly behavior that allows apathy to rule one’s curiousity and intellectual pursuits means the rest of the body cannot be far behind. If you want to be vital, then vitality has to be a daily goal. Is it difficult? Of course, it can be. There are numerous roadblocks. Bonding mind and body always requires work. Searching for ways to keep the blood pumping, the endorphins hopping, the stamina energizing is a constant. Shutting down one or the other depletes the body and the mind.
Confessing to indifference is a start. However, coming to recognition, coupling that with independence, moving on to decisions which require tough thought, hard discipline, daily exercise, fighting off the temptations to give into a weak body, an apathetic mind are struggles not without their effort and cost. If you have never allowed yourself to be pushed physically and intellectually, the undertaking will be all the more testing and a battle for endurance.
Accept the Intellectual challenge and with it welcome Independence.