D. None of the Above: Friendships, pet appreciation, confidence and others improve...

D. None of the Above: Friendships, pet appreciation, confidence and others improve with age

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By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

In connection with the Times Beacon Record Newspapers’ coverage of Stony Brook University’s Center for Healthy Aging, I asked a host of people what gets better for them with age. I promised each of them anonymity, so I have altered their names.

Starting with people in their 40’s to 60’s, one of the most common responses involved the relationship they had with their children.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is that my kids get better with age,” explained John in an email. “It has been such a joy to watch [his 15-year old daughter and 13-year-old son] grow up and become smart, relatively well-adjusted, and really interesting young adults.”

Indeed, Mary, whose children are in their early 20’s, suggested that her relationship with both of them has gotten better with each passing year. She appreciates their support and caring and feels time with them, by definition, has become quality time.

Julie, who is an empty nester, believes her relationship with her husband has improved dramatically. In the first few years after her children graduated from college, she and her husband did not have the same ideas about how to help guide and direct their children, leading to tension in their household and their marriage.

After a few important and stressful conversations, as well as an ultimatum or two, Julie and her husband have never been closer and are enjoying the opportunity to live, work and play together.

The 40’s to 60’s group also shared their professional confidence and comfort, trusting their own judgment as they have poured considerable time and effort into building their careers.

“Perspective gets better since you’ve seen more situations and something that might have appeared catastrophic earlier comes into focus as something that will pass,” Robert said in an email.

Dana feels her sense of self has improved. “I know who I am, and my thoughts, feelings and actions are now more aligned, which leads to contentment,” she said.

Fred suggested that his friendships have gotten better over time, both in importance and depth. He also feels his dog has made a ‘tremendous difference in my life.”

As the years since formal schooling slip further back in his life, Fred appreciates the opportunity to read for his own enjoyment and for himself, instead of to fulfill the requirements for a class.

The younger generation, which includes a sampling of people in their low to mid 20’s, couldn’t resist showing a little attitude.

The first response to “what gets better with age” was “cheese and wine.”

Sharing the sentiment expressed by those who have older children, they added “their appreciation for their parents.”

Also making the cut were “little things you took for granted,” “going on a long run and not getting hurt,” and “an appreciation for hanging out with friends.”

In the years after playing on school teams became less frequent, they also appreciate the opportunity to return to the court or to the field to play sports that are no longer scheduled a few times a week over the course of a long season.

As for those over 65, the list includes “focusing on the things that matter,” said Sheila. “Don’t sweat the little things.”

Carrie has learned to care less about what others think and do what she wants to do.

Joe suggested that “wisdom and temperament” come with age, although he added that’s not always the case.

“I don’t have to worry everyday about whether I will succeed in my goals,” said Paula, who is still working and traveling as a part of her job as she approaches 80. “I don’t have to worry whether my child will survive or thrive, whether I can pay my bills. I can relax a bit, but not too much because there is so much yet to do.”

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