Dealing With Some Of The Problems Of Aging

Dealing With Some Of The Problems Of Aging

The aging process is a natural, God-ordained part of our earthly existence. Further, there are

elevated levels of respect which go with older people according to God’s plan. This was explicitly

set forth in the Mosaic law: “Thou shalt rise up before the [gray] head, and honor the face of the

old man, and thou shalt fear thy God: I am Jehovah,” (Lev. 19:32), and is a principle which runs

throughout the gospel as well, (cf. Mt. 15:4ff; Mk. 7:10ff). Age has its honor and advantages, yet

there are challenges we face when we enter our senior years. These should be recognized and

handled in an effective, Christlike manner.

1. Loss of physical strength. Instead of lingering in denial, we would be wise to recognize the

fact that there are some things we can no longer do. Physical strength is diminished, “in the day

when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the

grinders cease because they are few,” (Eccl. 12:3). It’s a mistake to stubbornly insist that we can

do everything we used to do. This attitude tends to exclude participation by younger people, and

alienate us from those who can clearly see our failings. Happily, there are many younger people

who are eager to step up and assist. We need to encourage them and allow them to do as God

intended. Graciously accepting and encouraging the help of younger people helps them to be

“sober-minded,” (Titus 2:6)—a trait of young people far too rare these days.

2. Loss of mental agility. Response time, the time it takes the brain to respond to stimuli,

increases as we age beyond a certain point. Can a 80-year-old man drive as well as a 40-yearold?

Almost always, studies show the answer is no. It’s not because the senior driver has forgotten

how to drive, or lacks the physical strength, it’s a matter of slowing response time. This fact does

not come easily to aging drivers, especially men, who are accustomed to being “the captain of

the ship.” Still, we need to acknowledge that in some cases there are activities better performed

by the younger folks. Wise elders in the church will encourage the involvement of the next

generation, and respect their abilities. Grandparents should acknowledge that some situations are

now better handled by their children.

3. Loss of friends and companions. There is a constant need in life to cultivate new friendships,

but sometimes this reality is driven home in senior years. The smallest funeral crowds go with

the oldest decedents. It’s important to reach out to the younger crowd, and take an interest in their

lives. We need to try to avoid isolation as we grow older, which can be disheartening and

dangerous. “Many friends who journeyed with me in the bright days of the past have preceded

me to glory and I linger here at last.” Try to be flexible, and go along with the younger folks

when you can. This is highly preferable to being left behind.

4. Increased emphasis on medical issues. This is only natural, but we need to be careful that

we do not allow it to consume every conversation in our lives. No one, especially no young

person, wants to listen to a 20-minute detailed description of our latest aches and pains. This is a

hard reality of life, but it may help us to consider it in advance. It is not that others don’t care, it’s

just that they have lives of their own which need attention. All of us need to show interest in our

seniors, and including the difficulties associated with their medical problems. But by the same

token, we seniors need to “suck it up” and remember that such issues are a normal part of getting

old. We cannot expect our children and other youngsters to give up their own lives and

continually commiserate with us.

5. Changing Values. What consumed our interest in younger years suddenly seems so

unimportant to us as we enter old age. Raising children, buying a house, paying off educational

debt, advancing in a career, and a hundred other concerns of middle-age, often fade into

irrelevance as we become seniors. Try to remember them! Try even harder to remember the

excitement of youthful accomplishments and special events—like your first car, your first date.

These things still matter to the young, so take an interest in them yourself.

Growing old is normal and natural, and it does not have to be a bitter experience. God created us

to live in thanksgiving and glory—at every stage of our lives.

– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.