Highs and Lows

A quick scan of the articles in this month's issue of AgeWise King County might lead readers to think of high-highs and low-lows. On the one hand, the issue leads with references to diagnoses and various forms of elder abuse. On the other, there are clear messages of resilience and hope throughout the issue.

Resilience and hope. In Millennial parlance, that's just the way we roll.

Older adults generally become more resilient with the passage of time. Like writer Ken Astrein ("How Can I Be Happy Under the Circumstances?"), we may become quite resilient early in life. I applaud Mr. Astrein's focus on resiliency, humor, and gratitude, as those are characteristics that each and every one of us needs to hone, and a wonderful theme for this issue.

High resilience has been significantly associated with positive outcomes, including successful aging, lower depression, and longevity. The building of resilience is not a personality trait but a process. Older adults are capable of improving their resilience later in life, but little can be done in terms of immediate intervention (The impact of resilience among older adults, Geriatric Nursing, February 2016). Issues related to resilience and successful aging are highlighted in an entire recent issue of the Journal of Aging Life Care (January 2016).

It's important to know we can bounce back. We can live the life we're given, and we will build resilience. Certain choices enhance our ability to live well. How often have we promoted "keep moving, stay connected" in this publication? These themes are interrelated.

Turning to gratitude, I am most grateful that systems are in place to support individuals who suffer at the hands of another, including family members and known and trusted friends and providers. Read Jullie Gray's article ("The 7 Biggest Myths about Elder Abuse") and you will learn that the prevalence of elder abuse is shocking. One sentence bears repeating: If you are concerned about a vulnerable adult, call 911 or your local adult protective services agency. In Washington state, call 866-END-HARM.

I am also cheered by other articles in this issue. Kathleen Sullivan's article ("Generations with Pride Supports LGBTQ Adults at Mid-Life and Beyond") is encouraging. I am so pleased that Aging and Disability Services and the City of Seattle have been able to support development of programs and services for LGBTQ residents. I expect that the Healthy Aging Partnership's June 7 event ("Better with Age") will brim with humor and gratitude.

PEARLS for Veterans has had remarkable success in helping veterans and their spouses cope with life's problems. Learn more in "Did You Serve in the Military?" and at www.agingkingcounty.org/veterans.

Finally, the development of Community Living Connections and new opportunities for professional training and collaboration ("Aging Network Providers Learn Together") is inspiring. Sometimes we do not have the strength necessary to bounce back from life's curveballs—at least not without help and support. For times like that, I am grateful that we have Community Living Connections—a network of caring, highly trained advocates who provide easy access to information, individual consultation, and service options. Calls are free and confidential. I would encourage anyone who needs help understanding an issue related to age or ability, or needs resources, to call Community Living Connections (toll-free) at 1-844-348-5464.   

Life has its highs and its lows. Resiliency is a wonderful thing.


Contributor Molly Holmes is the chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. Molly welcomes input from readers via e-mail (advisorychair@agewisekingcounty.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.

Molly Holmes' photo by Lorraine Sanford.

The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October.

For information on joining the Advisory Council, visit our How to Join webpage or contact Aging and Disability Services planner Gigi Meinig at 206-684-0652 or gigi.meinig@seattle.gov.