From my point of view, I’d say it falls on youngers to wake up to the realization that olders elders ancients NEVER lose the hunger for a sense of purpose. Am grateful for a Mom who totally hit that nail on the heading, writing (at 90), “This old biddy believes that the Lord intends us to live fully–whatever our physical or mental condition–right up to the moment we traipse across the threshold of our spiritual home.
As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel noted at the 1961 White House Conference on Aging, “What a person lives by is not only a sense of belonging but a sense of indebtedness. The need to be needed corresponds to a fact: something is asked of a man, of every man. Advancing in years must not be taken to mean a process of suspending the requirements and commitments under which a person lives. To be is to obey. A person must never cease to be.”
Three years ago, Rabbi Friedman wrote, “The state of obligation … offers a “sense of significant being.” This potential for meaning has no end point. … We are called to hallow our lives for as long as we live. … Our actions matter.”
“Our actions matter.” When we are children, when we are young adults, when we are middle aged, olders elders ancients. The potential for meaning – aka purpose – has no end point. I understand Jill Suttie’s enthusiasm for the scientific findings that indicate that older & “mature” adults ALSO gain benefits from having a sense of personal purpose, but discussions among the leaned & wise about precisely that are as old as the Torah – older.
My suggestion – read today’s Rx For Caregivers‘ post on Chapter 14 – – better yet, get the book & read it, cover to cover. THEN read the article from the Greater Good Science Center at UC/Berkeley. Don’t miss my comment at the end!