Positive ageing is concerned with the psychological and emotional aspects of getting older. This ‘inner world’ of ageing is seldom talked or written about – despite the fact that it is our internal thoughts and feelings which determine our wellbeing in later life.
Our experience of later life is significantly influenced by our beliefs and attitudes towards it. Negative ageist stereotypes are harmful and debilitating. It is important to remember that ageing is inevitable, but getting ‘old’ is optional! A positive approach to ageing promotes a balanced view of later life – it has both positive and negative aspects, as do all other stages in life. Loss is, of course, a prominent feature of ageing. We lose not only loved ones, but also, potentially, some of our physical and mental capabilities. But a positive ageing approach recognises how important it is to face the negatives and the losses ‘head on’. Quality of life is paramount; a life well lived is more important than a long one. In order to make ageing a positive experience, we must be proud of whatever age we are and not succumb to age denial through anti-ageing potions or flattery about ‘not looking your age’. We are the age we are, and we look the age we look, at the age we are.
Later life will always be ‘a work in progress’ until the very end, and a positive ageing approach seeks to promote the tools to develop and maintain a positive and optimistic mindset about ageing. By being aware of, and preparing for how we are going to respond to challenges in later life, we can change the way in which we experience them. Finally, a positive ageing approach suggests that acceptance of the ageing process and our mortality is key to our wellbeing and happiness.