Profiles of Successful Aging in Missouri
What is Successful Aging?These were some of the many questions facing us as we considered gathering examples for the Successful Aging project. The one thing that we did not want was to include examples of people who displayed talents so extraordinary as to be unreachable.
The Process Inquiries were addressed to the administrator of every Area Agency on Aging in Missouri and to all aging specialists in the University of Missouri Extension Service. We asked for nominations of people to be interviewed for inclusion in our examples of successful aging. We conducted a telephone interview of each nominee received. Additionally, we made inquiries to various professionals within the aging network in the Greater Kansas City area.
Findings: When reading the interviews (and we urge you to do just that) several trends are evident. First is the "Don't give up" attitude. (Some are reminiscent of the cartoon of a large blue heron trying to swallow a frog. The frog has his hands firmly around the birds so that the heron cannot swallow. The caption says "Never give up!") Every person interviewed, with varying degrees of fervor, said, "Keep Active." But the message is broader than might be first imagined.
The second trend focuses on helping others. Activity is most effective when focused on helping others, rather than yourself. Several of the people we interviewed said that if you spend your time in activities that help others, others will help you -- if and when the need arises. They seem to be telling us how to develop support networks. Another common thread in the interviews centered around faith and the power of prayer. Church activity varied, but almost all considered their faith very important to them, especially when faced with difficulties.
Conclusions: The person who is aging successfully is not necessarily a person with perfect health or economic situations, nor is it a person who has not faced other problems of daily living. If, as you read about these "normal" people you might be tempted to say to your self, "I do that" or "I could do that," then we have reached our goal. Successful aging is within reach for most of us.
following profiles are of Missourians from across our State, who are doing
a successful job of aging. We now invite you to experience for yourself
the informative messages from
Appreciation: Finally, to each of the people who have shared your lives and stories on this page, we extend a heartfelt "Thank You," and wish you many, many more years of successful aging! Your are, everyone of you, living inspirations of perseverence, active involvement in life, and reaching out to others.