Doris Bersing, PhD

Unleashing the Real Deal: The Bold Odyssey of Proudly Proclaiming Gayness in the Golden Years

Not as Easy as People Think: Understanding The Journey of Coming Out In Old Age

Oh, coming out is not just a walk in the park! Especially back in the good ol’ days when being gay was illegal in the USA, and guess what? nowadays, it’s still illegal in many countries ! Can you believe it? And hey, let’s not forget that in the not-so-distant past, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a lovely little sociopathic personality disturbance. How charming!

And as if being a sexual minority wasn’t already challenging, let’s throw in being a member of another minority group, because why not? So go ahead, be gay and be part of the Latinx, Asian, African American, or religious practitioner communities! Double dipping, anyone?

Well, apparently there’s no magical age to burst out of the closet, but I suppose the sooner, the merrier! Seriously, who wants to live in a cramped and stuffy closet? Speaking from personal experience, during my rebellious teenage years and the wild ride of my early adulthood, I took to boys like I was on a fast trip down a one-lane highway, but the idea of being with a girl, although familiar, was more for others but not for me.  It didn’t occur to me to do anything other than what was expected, so, I was a fashionably late bloomer who finally strutted my stuff in my fabulous thirties. Let me tell you it was far from a leisurely stroll in a picturesque park. I had to face societal stereotypes, homophobia, and countless expectations from my dear family, colleagues, and friends. But hey, who said life must be easy, right? It was like carrying an extra-heavy handbag on an already challenging journey. And don’t even get me started on the idea that it might have been easier since there are more gay people now than before. I mean, come on, it’s not like we, suddenly multiplied like rabbits or anything! Indeed, it cannot be denied that there is an element of truth in that statement. According to a Gallup survey there has been a significant increase in the number of adults in the US identifying as LGBTQ+ over the past ten years. This trend is largely driven by the smart and forward-thinking Gen Z adults, who inhabit a world where same-sex marriage is legally recognized across the nation. Additionally, they reside in a society that is increasingly aware of and accepting towards orientations and identities that are not limited to heterosexual and cisgender.

A Little Too Straight. LicenseCopyright. All rights reserved by Missive Maven.
Pictured: James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Errol Flynn, Michelangelo, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bessie Smith, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf.

Non-heterosexual sexual orientations are obviously on the rise, and I think it could be attributed to the societal change of attitudes (openness towards LGBTQ+ people) and more civil liberties (more equal rights, and more legislation in favor of LGBTQ+ rights) supporting  LGBTQ + rights and lifestyle.” The cities and towns are more gay-friendly as well.” All this progress, also make cities more habitable and welcoming for LGBTQ+ people. A 2022 survey asking if the World is Better for Gay People Than It Was 10 Years Ago? found  “…the percentage of people who said their communities were good places for gay people to live has increased by at least five percentage points in 73 countries.”  Undoubtedly, the diminishing prejudice against homosexuality has resulted in a significant decrease in the reservations one may face when revealing their true identity as LGBTQ+ individuals. While it is true that homophobia, stigmatization of the LGBTQ+ community, and biases against homosexuals have shown signs of decline in recent years, and broader acceptance and tolerance have prevailed, it cannot be denied that some members of the LGBTQ+ community still harbor apprehensions about the potential repercussions that may accompany their decision to openly express their true selves to their parents, colleagues, peers, team members, and other individuals they engage with socially and/or professionally.

Coming Out inLater Life: Challenges and Rewards

Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik

So, it might be easy to assume that given all these liberties and progress, most sexual minorities would be out, as we speak, but most sexual minority people in the world today are probably not out. In many countries, free and open sexual expression can be perilous, so it is in some cultures, families, and/or spheres of life. I always tell my LGBTQ+ patients who are struggling with coming out in their old age that they can choose to live authentically and openly, but it doesn’t have to be a grand announcement for everyone to hear, as each person has their own unique journey. This process can also be stressful or even risky or dangerous. You may feel safer not coming out in certain situations.  You don’t have to be out everywhere, all the time. You can decide what’s best for you. If ready to come out, but before “jumping the gun” consider your circumstances. Does coming out mean that you risk losing emotional or financial support from your family? If so, are you ready to deal with that? Or would you have enough emotional support to deal with your family rejection? Could coming out put you in physical danger? The most important matter is that ONLY you are in charge of your coming out experience.

You will not be alone, according to an article by AARP, there are an estimated 3 million LGBTQ+ adults over the age of 50 in the United States, and for those in midlife and beyond, coming out to loved ones can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. If someone’s sexual preferences have changed or they want to finally embrace their true self, they may face obstacles such as societal pressure and internalized homophobia. Coming out as gay in old age can be an adventure, like uncovering a hidden treasure chest filled with colorful gems. Suddenly, life feels brighter and more authentic, and one may even become the fabulous grandparent who proudly waves the rainbow flag. There’s no one right way to come out and one size-does-not fit all.  It can feel better to be open and honest about your sexual orientation than to hide it, but there are many factors to consider before coming out. Let’s not forget that along with the rewards, there are also challenges. Many have lived a lie for decades, introducing their partner as a roommate or business partner, and for those with religious backgrounds, there is the fear of discrimination and rejection. Some may even struggle to separate their desires from their upbringing and may feel guilty or ashamed. Undoing a lifetime of lies and living in one’s truth is easier said than done.

Once upon a time, I landed a gig as a fancy consultant tasked with conjuring up some top-notch wellness programs for the hip residents of a swanky new facility. My job also included training the staff on how to create a haven of safety and inclusivity specifically tailored for our fabulous LGBTQ+ seniors. Pretty cool, right? The facility promised to be a place where individuals could freely express themselves, emphasizing that the “closet was only for clothes.” But here’s the kicker – despite all the planning, plotting, and promising, this magical place never got to see the light of day. Poof! Just like that, it vanished into thin air. The primary concern voiced by the seniors, all of whom identified as LGBTQ+, was that they felt it was too late in their lives to come out to their families and reveal the truth about their relationships. This fear of rejection and judgment prevented them from fully embracing their authentic selves. It was truly saddening to see these individuals yearning for acceptance and support, only to have their hopes dashed.

Well, believe it or not, there’s actually a silver lining to this incredibly thrilling story. After a brilliant first attempt (note the sarcasm), our genius minds decided to join forces with a bunch of enthusiastic grassroots folks and developers who clearly understood that the return on investment was just too easy to pass up. And voila, behold the majestic Fountaingrove Lodge behold. The FGL was the one and only retirement community in the entire nation that was exclusively tailored to cater to the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals and all those wonderful allies that support them. It was a long-awaited beacon of hope and acceptance for those who had spent much of their lives feeling marginalized. Amazing, right? A decade later, others finally got it. We needed places where to retire and feel welcome and safe. (Here there is a link to an article with few other places in the USA catering to older LGBTQ+ individuals).

Personal Stories of Thriving After Coming Out in Your Golden Years

So, for some, coming out is a daunting possibility and for others it can be liberating. As Meredith shared in an article in The Guardian, coming out in her 90s was a blissful experience. Who would have thought that old age could bring such excitement and freedom? Exploring one’s sexuality in later years can be eye-opening, and it reminds us that life always has a way of surprising us. Just when we think we’ve experienced it all, a new twist comes along. While it may seem unconventional to come out in old age, there is no age limit to love and self-discovery. And at some point, a different reality emerges to give life a new sense of purpose. So why not embrace this new chapter with open arms and a fabulous rainbow flag?

Lynn Segerblom, one of the women behind the creation of the first rainbow flags for the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco, is photographed with a rainbow flag near her home in Torrance. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Many of my patients had also made it through the process of coming out, “to the other side” happily ever after and their stories are truly inspiring. They remind us of the strength of the human spirit and the resilience of the human heart. These individuals have defied societal expectations, faced their deepest fears, and emerged. One such story is that of Robert, an 80-year-old man who spent his entire life in the closet. Robert had always felt a deep attraction to men but was too scared to come out due to the fear of judgment and rejection. It was only in his late 70s that he found the courage to embrace his true self. Despite the initial challenges he faced, Robert now lives a life filled with authenticity, joy, and a newfound sense of freedom.

Another inspiring story is that of Alejandra a 75-year-old woman who had been married to a man for over 50 years. Alejandra always knew she was attracted to women but felt societal and family pressure to conform to heterosexual norms. She was raised catholic and had two children and a very homophobic family…and husband. After her husband passed away, she made the brave decision to come out to her children and grandchildren. And moved in with Norma, a lifetime friend who used to spent holidays and vacations with Alejandra’s family. While there were initial difficulties, shame for lying for so long, guilt for doing it now, Alejandra’s family eventually embraced her for who she truly is, and she now lives a life filled with love, acceptance, and personal fulfillment.

Often the pressures to come out are not only from society but from personal biases and the outcomes are not always so positive; Martha, one of my exceptional patients, bravely embraced her true self in her late 60s, shedding societal expectations and personal biases. Despite being married to a man for more than 40 years, Martha had the courage to recognize her authentic identity. However, her journey toward self-acceptance was far from easy. Confronting her own internalized homophobia and fearing the potential disapproval of her children were daunting obstacles that she had to overcome. Sadly, this path ultimately resulted in her estrangement from her beloved offspring. Martha’s story is a testament to her intellectual prowess and indomitable spirit.

Like for Martha, and many others, coming out as LGBTQ+ can be an incredibly difficult and emotional process, as individuals often grapple with the fear of disrupting the lives of those closest to them, feeling caught between two worlds where they may not fully belong – neither in the straight world nor the gay world – adding an additional layer of complexity to their journey. But guess what? Martha’s incredible courage brought her incredible rewards! Now, she is experiencing a dynamic and gratifying existence, encompassed by an extraordinary network of encouraging comrades, and a few of her cherished individuals who genuinely comprehend and embrace her genuine self (her grandchildren sought her guidance when grappling with their own sexual identity, isn’t that just so incredibly ironic?). And it’s not only her – there are countless captivating narratives waiting to be discovered!

Take Jim Kisthardt for instance, Jim at the age of 75, finally found the strength to come out as LGBTQ+ after his wife of 51 years passed away. “…Can you believe it? Back then, being gay was considered an absolute nightmare. It was seen as something far worse than divorce, tearing families apart…” Another of these “never too late stories” is Norman’s one, at 72-year old who underwent electroshock therapy, was hospitalized, and did aversion therapy, all to try to stop being gay. Finally, after his wife of 40 years passed away, he said “…part of me went with her. But at last, I could shout about my sexuality…” As times evolve, some are defying those outdated norms and embracing their true selves with pride. Isn’t that amazing? But it is not everybody’s story. We need the determination, the courage, and the support of professionals, family and friends. It takes a village…

I didn’t find there was much difference between loving a man and loving a woman. In general, love is love’ (portraits from Not Another Second.) Photograph: Karsten Thormaehlen, nAscent Art New York and RXM

Discover other captivating stories when you dive deep into the mesmerizing exhibition, “Not Another Second,” curated by Watermark Retirement Communities. Prepare to be amazed by the incredible bravery exhibited by these 12 extraordinary LGBTQ+ seniors, who fearlessly embraced their authentic selves. Transforming their once sad stories into powerful narratives of hope and joy. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to hear their stories and celebrate their triumphs over adversity.

Embrace Your True Self and Live a Fulfilling Life in Your “The-Best is Yet-to-Come” Years

Well, well, well, isn’t coming out just the wildest adventure?

It requires an abundance of time and courage, my friend. Brace yourself for this deeply personal and unique experience because trust me, it’s a rollercoaster like no other. And just when you least expect it, “guess who’s back?!” – coming out makes surprise appearances in the most unexpected situations. The emotions running through you during this wild ride can go from butterflies in your stomach to jumping for joy. Plus, who, when, and why you come out adds a whole new layer of comedy to the mix. So, buckle up, because this coming-out journey is going to be one heck of a hilarious ride! And of course, the best part is not even knowing who, when, or why you’ll have to come out next. Isn’t it thrilling?

Unlocking your true inner self is a journey that never ceases to amaze, no matter your age. From the tales of triumph to the hurdles faced along the way, embracing your authentic self is a smart decision. Don’t let anything hinder the brilliance of your gay identity, whether it’s in your golden years or the prime of your life. Remember, age is merely a number, and it can never dim the radiance of your fabulous self as you embark on the path of embracing your gay identity during your golden years.

Life’s too short for anything less, darling!


If you or someone you know is going through the coming out process later in life, remember that there is support available. Reach out to LGBTQ+ organizations, find affirming therapists, and connect with communities that celebrate and embrace your true self. You are not alone, and your journey is valid. Embrace your true self and thrive in your golden years!

Empowering Women: Unlocking the Past, Embracing the Future in Women’s History Month

There are never enough opportunities to celebrate women, which is why Women’s History Month is so important; celebrating women is crucial, and yes, I know you might think, “another article about women?” and I say, yes, one encore! I am writing about women as a fellow woman, forever connected to the cause. While we should be recognizing and honoring women’s contributions all year round, March provides a special occasion to emphasize their significance in our society.

As someone who is constantly balancing advocating for women’s empowerment and creating a roadmap for aging well, I am fascinated by the resilience of forgotten role models who remind us that there is still work to be done and causes to contribute to. As old age begins to affect me, I find myself reflecting on the subject of older women. What is our place in society? What is our role? What is our responsibility and final vindication? I refuse to associate “old age” with anything negative or meaningless. I reject the idea that it is solely defined as “the declining years,” “senility,” “dotage,” or “senescence.” No, if my age is going to define me, it will be in terms of purpose, fulfillment, and vibrancy. It will be about growth, wisdom, power, and giving back to our community.

When I think about all the women who have inspired me – those I have loved, those who have loved me, those who have shared their stories, and those who have allowed me to witness their journeys – I realize that resilience is a crucial tool for achieving what can be called “successful aging.” The skills we honed during our rebellious years can still guide us on this new journey. As Gloria Steinem once said, “I have faith that with the aging of the baby boomers, that ‘wonderful, rebellious group, will redefined aging but for that they need to get over the hurdle of being terrified about getting old because if we’re fearing aging, we’re losing our greatest revolutionaries.” It is about conquering fear and trailblazing our path ahead. Using skills from the past and gaining awareness is a first step. However, wisdom and personal awareness do not automatically come with age or because of a passing calendar. Personal wisdom requires hard work – it involves introspection, growth, respect, and self-awareness. Achieving balance takes great personal effort, increasing levels of awareness, and an understanding of our own strengths and limitations.

Many women still desire to find a partner, to be protected, supported, and fathered. For some, staying at home and raising children is more important than pursuing a career. While this may be the right decision for some, gender inequality and a patriarchal power structure often prevent women from making an informed choice. Another challenge is that many women who fought for independence and self-sufficiency find themselves alone and unfulfilled, in part because they were unable to find a long-term partner who could live up to their standards of liberation. This has created a divide between strong women and comparatively weak men. Women striving to reclaim their role as wise women have challenged men in their traditional roles as kings and warriors, leading to a backlash from some men. Some lament the loss of the old ways, where men were hunter-warriors and women stayed home to take care of the family. However, every person is unique, and women should be free to choose their own path – whether it is that of a mother, warrior, crone, sage, medicine woman, or ruler; there is room for all of us, with our diverse aspirations and ambitions, in this world.

We require self-reflection and deep introspection in order to transform ourselves and discover our true calling. It is essential to refine our abilities, including resilience and determination. By actively listening to the experiences of older women, we can gain valuable insights into our strength, purpose, living in the present moment, and becoming the catalyst for change. One of my clients, Josephine, an older woman, imparted a significant lesson to me. She serves as living evidence that there is still immense beauty and awe to be found in our later years.even in the most challenging circumstances (Josephine was a resident in an assisted living facility, which is not always seen as a place of positive aging due to the often-rapid decline of its residents). Meet Josephine, here.

Josephine’s accounts of civil rights, equality, and women’s rights in the 1960s and 1970s resonated with my understanding of feminism. Despite not fitting my exact image of a feminist, her narrative sparked thoughts about challenges faced by aging women in a society that doesn’t value them. She showed a shift in the feminist movement from liberation to mentorship, offering opportunities for aging women who can remain active and vibrant, and giving back, even in old age.

Therefore, let us seize the opportunity of celebrating International Women’s Month to tap into the collective wisdom of women and allow it to guide us on a transformative journey of healing and growth. It is crucial for women of all races, gender expressions, sexual orientations, socioeconomic classes, religions, ethnicities, and ages to come together as a united force against the patriarchal idea that our value diminishes as we age. We must also address the unfortunate reality that some of us feel invisible in society.


In this pursuit, let us seek out our role models, our “Josephine(s)”, who inspire us with their writings, actions, and accomplishments. These role models are the ones we admire and look up to, as they embody the strength and resilience that we aspire to possess. By tapping into our inner crone and embracing her wisdom, we can redefine ourselves after 50, 60, or any age that represents this third and long phase of life. We can become teachers, role models, and sources of inspiration for future generations.

Together, as a diverse group of women, we can challenge societal norms, break free from the constraints imposed by ageism, and create a world where every woman is valued and respected, regardless of her age. Let us celebrate the beauty and wisdom that comes with age, and let it be a testament to the strength and resilience of women throughout history. By doing so, we can pave the way for a more inclusive and empowering future for all women. Are you ready?

It’s Leap Year! Take a Leap and Dare to Age Well.

The concept of aging well may seem puzzling – what exactly does it mean to age well? Is it about aging gracefully? It may appear unexciting, as striving to look younger or conforming to societal expectations based on age can be overvalued. Instead, perhaps we should focus on aging with purpose, finding happiness in the later years. Maybe grace, although it may sound pleasant, is not the solution. Heather Havrilesky once expressed in an article about aging well that she believes being powerful is more important than being graceful. She believes that aging gracefully requires constantly proving oneself against various challenges such as personal criticism, public humiliation, and a steady stream of negative comments. It also involves a slow deterioration of self-confidence and sudden shocks that can cause one’s illusions to crumble. However, she asserts that individuals should pursue their passions and be true to themselves, following their bold and unconventional impulses. Ultimately, the key to aging well is daring to live life on one’s own terms and by that token daring to age well.

Instead of persisting on the path of misogyny by trying to be a “nice lady” as we age, we can embrace and rejoice in the process of getting older by acknowledging the positive aspects of aging. While there may be difficulties to navigate with age such as physical weakness or fragility, it is important to face them with a positive attitude. This year let’s chart a path towards empowerment and redefine what it means to age well for ourselves as older women and defy societal expectations about aging. Let us also discover the resilience and confidence within us to age gracefully and optimistically. As we embrace the concept of leap year, let’s explore some tips for taking a leap towards aging well. Do at least one courageous thing this year to make you more interesting to yourself — and to others! Start with one of these suggestions:

  • Create a space for yourself (it could be just carving out some time for just YOU! Self-care, reading, taking a bubble bath, going to the hair salon. Step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance. It could be learning a musical instrument, taking up painting, or even traveling to a new destination. Embracing new experiences can help maintain cognitive function and promote personal growth.
  • Nourish your mind and book a full hour with your counselor or psychotherapist to explore new ways to reinvent yourself. Allow space to dive deeper into your emotions and give yourself permission to feel. Leap year serves as a reminder that change is possible, at any age, and that personal growth should be an ongoing journey. Whether it’s overcoming fears, facing adversity, or pursuing lifelong dreams, leap year encourages us to take a leap of faith and believe in our ability to grow and evolve.
  • Go out with an old friend, with no-agenda. Just to share time, space, and being. Maintaining strong social connections is crucial for overall well-being. Try to nurture existing relationships and forge new connections. Spending time with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious and can provide a sense of belonging and contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life.
  • Join a dating online platform if looking for a companion or if you are single, divorced, or bereaved and would like to meet someone, (If not computer savvy, take a FREE course at your local library, no excuses! When finding your candidate, legend has it that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, granted women the right to propose to men on leap day, leading to the tradition of women proposing on February 29th, so go for it.
  • Engage as a volunteer at a preferred organization in your community. There are countless ways for older adults to get involved and make a positive impact through volunteering. Just few options are: mentoring and tutoring—using the tricks of the old dog, participating in local charity events, offering your skills and expertise to nonprofit organizations, engaging in community service projects like serving meals at a soup kitchen or organizing recreational activities for seniors.
  • Stay Active—and this does not mean joining, one more time, a gym, it means just to move, to engage in regular physical activity that suits your abilities and interests. This could be anything from walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, gardening, going up and down the stairs, walk to the store, do yard work, clean your house, or dancing, just keep on moving!
  • If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to do, try to develop new hobbies and interests (learn a language, take on playing an instrument, create new dishes in the kitchen. Whatever can rock your boat and gives you joy is IN! Pursue your passions.
  • Finally, do not procrastinate your health care and make this leap year, the one to repeat a full check-up. Make the most of your doctor. Everything taking care of yourself goes, after all why not devoting, simply, this year to love yourself more?

If in need of some inspiration, read what 100 centennials can say about living and aging well.

Among other things, they suggest you “… Keep your eyes open, never stay stuck in the past, , leap into the future, … and dance while you still can… ”

Older Women: The Double Standards of Aging

I am very passionate about the theme of older women and aging women. I am struck by how hard it is for some women to age gracefully and enjoy their lives, or exercise their professions, find new hobbies, make new relationships, or express and fulfill their desires and sexuality. I reflect on the other part of the equation—like the Ying and Yang of the universe, where there are always opposites manifesting daily—where a more positive attitude can rule.  The one society does not embrace often but could exist, the one that should also be possible and considers age as something beautiful, a positive part of evolution.

Ageism and Sexism

As Robert Heinlen— , one of the most influential and controversial hard science fiction authors, once said:

“Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist-a master-and that is what Auguste Rodin was-can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is…and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…no matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn’t matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired-but it does to them.”

Do we all need to be good artists, or this positive side of the aging women equation is just science fiction? Culturally, there are influences against any positive view of this process for women but not for men who become the old sexies or the silver foxes (a term with a more positive meaning “an attractive middle-aged man having mostly gray or white hair.”). Tired of the double standard and given the influx of beautiful and interesting women with silver hair, people started using the term “silver vixen.” However, the term has been distorted to refer to a person who is hot-headed and ill-tempered. Vixens are often used to mock a woman who is rude or unpleasant. Surprised?

Other distortions we could observe during past centuries are the use of words describing wise women–crone, hag, and witch—once were all positive words for old women. Crones, hags, and witches frequently were leaders, midwives, and healers in their communities. The meanings of these three words, however, were distorted and eventually reversed during the 300 years of the Inquisition when the male-dominated church wanted to eliminate women holding positions of power. Women identified as witches, who were often older women, i.e. crones and hags, were tortured and burned, and the words witch, crone, and hag took on the negative connotations that continue as so in our language. Many examples of sexism and misogyny plague our current culture for all women but when it comes to older women, we find this discrimination to be multilayer going through race, gender, sexual preference, and of course age.

The double standards faced by older women

Since Susan Sontag coined in the 1970s the phrase “double standard of aging”, discussions about this dual interpretation of aging have continued to evolve. Recent feminist gerontology scholars have called for an intersectoral approach to cultural norms regarding physical appearance and aging. Hated for many, Sontag described aging in “The Double Standard of Aging,” with a terrible clarity: “Growing old is primarily an ordeal of imagination, a moral disease, and a social pathology, which affects women more than men.” The horizon of potential dwindled and receded day by day… According to the author, is a social convention which states that aging improves men but destroys women.

Women are therefore held to a greater standard, regarding aging, than men. Gwyneth Paltrow, a younger woman (50+), has validated this double standard of aging. In an interview with British Vogue ,Paltrow discussed the “double-standard” of women having to maintain their beauty while men get older and are celebrated.

“I think that it is a cultural problem.” Paltrow reflected on the fact that women are judged harsher for getting older. As women, we are interested in being healthy and aging. It’s so strange that we are supposed to freeze in time.

The double standard of aging, as described by Sontag, refers to both genders being devalued at older ages – ageism in a youth-oriented society. However, the standards in our culture create more problems for women than men. Sontag’s “double standard” of aging is a devaluation of both genders as they age, i.e. ageism in a young-oriented culture. However, the standards in our culture cause more problems for older women than men. Women suffer greater losses because aging erodes the social assets of women (their attractiveness), while men gain from their most valuable social resources (their earning power and achievements in the public arena). Women must hide their aging to be considered by society as distinguished.

Mental and Physical Wellbeing

Men have a wider range of options, while women are more confined to the idea that beauty is equated with youthfulness. Women’s aging is associated with a loss of sexual and visual allure, while a man of a higher age can be considered “handsome” and “sexy”. In terms of sexuality and intimacy women follow the “happiness scripts” that tell us what older women should do to feel happy. These scripts place a strong emphasis on the beauty of the body, sexual desire, and timelines. The dominant happiness scripts for older women focus on beauty and body. This includes anti-aging products, cosmeceuticals and cosmetics that can hide signs of ageing. Got Botox?

A woman who doesn’t look old is the happy older woman. Women who cannot counteract the ageing process are usually portrayed as unhappy. The aging narrative is a downward spiral in which older women feel unhappy due to their loss of beauty and are alienated by their mirror reflection. As a result, older women who are less attractive tend to feel like a second-class citizen, unattractive and purposeless. They may even become asexual.

It is acceptable for a young woman to have a love interest for aged men but older women who have sex with younger men are ridiculed. While the pressures on older people to remain sexually active as part of a wider project of ‘active’ aging are undoubtedly increasing there is still a copout to refuse sexual activity on the grounds of advanced age and loss of attractiveness in contrast with the sexy oldie-fox for image men.

To add insult to injury, there are new and continually increasing pressures on older people to remain sexually active as part of a wider project of ‘successful’, ‘active’ or ‘positive’ ageing. For men, hence more of the double standard of aging, this active aging is fixed and supported by global pharma—who have not heard of VIAGRA—and yet what for women? Many, supported by the ‘asexual older person’ discourse, which places the sexual activity of older women within the outer limits, just refuse or abstain from having sex. Yet, refusal or abstinence is just an option and should not be the norm. Often, a decision to not have sex or a declaration that you don’t want to be sexual can become stigmatizing in later life. It is easy to reject sex or sexuality because of age, if the “asexual older person” narrative continues to be available—after all, to do anything else would be bad, abnormal, unnatural, damned.

Alternately, some older women may find it liberating to be free of sex. This is especially true for those who never enjoyed sex in the past. Or for those who have experienced sex in their marriages as a duty, but not as something they enjoyed. Women who once enjoyed sex can refuse to have sex later in life by claiming that sexual interest will decline. It is not a one size-fits-all. How much of these beliefs or attitudes are genuine and how many are introjections of socio-cultural values?

Overcoming Societal Stereotypes and Prejudices

The same is true when it comes to social and psychological stereotypes. While older men are perceived to be wise, experienced, forceful, and authoritative, older women are perceived to be vulnerable, stubborn, and frail, invisible, and just plain old. Hillary Clinton is an excellent example. Rush Limbaugh, a radio commentator, predicted in 2007 that the U.S. People would not vote for Senator Clinton because they would not like to see a woman “age before their very eyes.” In 2014, her critics claimed that she was “too old” to run for the presidency again. However, these same critics did not have any concerns regarding Donald Trump, Joe Biden, or John McCain’s ages when they ran. The American culture frowns upon ugly women, and an older woman is considered ugly, and it seems she should be invisible too.

In popular culture, societal stereotypes often paint a negative image of older women, while giving older men a more positive portrayal. This creates a stark contrast between the experiences of men and women as they age. For women, the process of aging is often depicted as challenging and filled with physical changes such as saggy breasts, spotted hands, and wrinkled necks. These portrayals reinforce the idea that older women are frail and fragile. On the other hand, society tends to view lines and wrinkles on a man’s face as signs of character and wisdom, without placing the same pressure on them to hide signs of aging through hair dye, anti-aging creams, or Botox. However, in reality, many older women defy these stereotypes. They are strong, resilient individuals who are capable of accomplishing incredible things despite societal expectations. Their experiences should not be reduced to simplistic narratives that focus solely on physical appearance. It is important to recognize that the beauty and worth of older women go beyond external features. Their strength comes from their experiences, wisdom, and resilience.

It is crucial that we highlight their strength and resilience to counteract these limiting beliefs about aging. While it is true that society tends to idolize youthfulness, we should not overlook the wisdom and experience that come with age. Older women have a wealth of knowledge to offer, based on their life experiences. By valuing their insights and contributions, we can create a more inclusive society that respects individuals regardless of age or gender. It is time to challenge the societal norms that perpetuate negative stereotypes about older women. Let us celebrate their achievements, acknowledge their strengths, and promote a more accurate portrayal of aging in media and society. By doing so, we can pave the way for a future where everyone is valued for who they are rather than how they look or their age.

Impact of ageism on healthcare for older women

On one hand, it is evident that older women bear the brunt of society’s double standards when it comes to ageism, sexism, and gender biases. These unfair expectations can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being. However, it is important to note that internalizing these ageist stereotypes can intensify their impact, leading to a decrease in self-esteem and a sense of helplessness. This, in turn, can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and despondency among older women. It is crucial for society to recognize and challenge these harmful attitudes to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals regardless of age or gender. By acknowledging the unique challenges faced by older women and promoting equality across all generations, we can work towards dismantling the double standards of aging that perpetuate sexism and ageism.

Furthermore, the disparity in health care for older women is a pressing issue that cannot be overlooked. Ageism has far-reaching consequences, particularly in the realm of healthcare for older women. Stereotypes and biases can affect the quality of care received by older women, leading to misdiagnoses, undertreatment, or neglect. Healthcare providers may unconsciously prioritize the health concerns of younger patients, dismissing or downplaying the symptoms and concerns of older women. This can result in delayed or inadequate medical interventions, potentially compromising the health and well-being of older women.

While women tend to live longer than men, they are often faced with unequal access to quality healthcare as they age. This discrepancy is not only rooted in sexism but also fueled by ageism, perpetuating a cycle of discrimination against older women. The double standards of aging, combined with deep-seated sexism and ageism, contribute to this unfair treatment. Instead of being viewed as capable individuals deserving of the same level of care, older women are often dismissed as frail and helpless. They are deemed unfit for aggressive treatments or surgical interventions simply because of their age and gender. This discriminatory mindset not only undermines their autonomy but also denies them access to potentially life-saving medical interventions. It is disheartening to witness how these stereotypes perpetuate the notion that older women are merely complaining about multiple symptoms due to being “just old and lonely.”

Fighting ageism and sexism with education and empathy

Alternately, many minority women have had to endure disrespectful treatment within the healthcare system due to factors such as sexism, racism, or bias against lesbians. This history of mistreatment only amplifies the challenges they face when seeking proper care and support. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive approach that tackles both sexism and ageism within the healthcare system. It is crucial for medical professionals and policymakers to recognize the unique needs and experiences of older women and work towards creating an inclusive and equitable healthcare environment. By acknowledging and challenging the double standards of aging in health care, we can work towards creating a more equitable system that provides comprehensive care for all older women, regardless of their background or identity. Furthermore, promoting more realistic and diverse views of older women in the clinical field is crucial. This shift in perspective can greatly improve doctor-patient relationships, as doctors will be better equipped to understand and empathize with their older female patients. Ultimately, this leads to improved adherence to treatment regimens and reduced disparities in health and healthcare for older women. It is time to dismantle these ingrained biases and ensure that every woman receives the quality care she deserves as she ages gracefully.

It’s strange and sad that so many women are unwilling to accept the fact they are aging and are no longer a minority. Women are now most of the Americans 65 and older. We have the chance to be part of the critical mass which can help change ageism and sexism.  By continuously educating ourselves about different cultures, perspectives, and experiences, we can gain a deeper understanding of the diverse realities faced by older women. This knowledge empowers us to recognize and challenge the double standards that unfairly affect us.

Self-awareness and empathy are the best ways to fight against double standards. Be aware of your biases. Consider whether you have different expectations of different people depending on their race, gender, or other factors. Consider how your decisions or actions may affect others. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Listen to others’ perspectives and change your views if needed. I believe we need to see more older women expressing their disappointment with the current status quo and ageism, including anti-wrinkle products and pharmaceuticals. As a former activist, the older woman should not find joy in fighting wrinkles. Instead, she should fight against ageism.

Advocacy and Activism against Ageism and Sexism

Advocacy and activism play a crucial role in effecting social change and dismantling ageism and sexism. Individuals and organizations can engage in advocacy efforts by raising awareness about the double standards faced by older women, promoting inclusive policies, and supporting initiatives that empower older women. This can involve lobbying for legislation that protects the rights and well-being of older women or participating in grassroots movements that challenge ageist and sexist practices.

It is crucial that we celebrate the beauty and wisdom that come with age, valuing the unique experiences and perspectives of older women. By embracing aging as a natural part of life, we can create a society that values individuals of all ages and genders, fostering unity, respect, and inclusivity. Let us stand together, advocate for change, and work towards a future where ageism and sexism are no longer barriers to the full participation and empowerment of older women.

Feeling Old, Feeling Done, Feeling Down: Women in Search of Meaning into Old Age.

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As society progresses, women have achieved remarkable strides in areas such as professional development, financial freedom, and political participation. However, despite this progress, many aging women find themselves at a crossroads when their traditional roles as family caretakers or professionals come to an end. The absence of clear purpose can lead to feelings of depression, desolation, and a sense of being “done” with life. They feel like falling into the pit of the void, confused to what their purpose can be in this new phase of life, a total uncharted land, no wonder some people say aging is not for the faint of heart.

Aging is not an isolated issue; it impacts society as a whole. With the increasing longevity ratio, the aging of baby boomers, and changing psychological, social, and spiritual needs, society must adapt to a new configuration and a new set of needs. Women face unique challenges in finding their place in society, and the prevalence of ageism, sexism, and misogyny exacerbates their struggles. In a patriarchal society, older women may feel undervalued, invisible, and despondent. To help these women find a new paradigm and purpose, we must develop new strategies and support systems to overcome the crisis of desolation and meaninglessness.

The Uncharted Land of Aging and Seeking Help

Aging women who no longer have the defined roles of family caretakers or trailblazing professionals often find themselves in an uncharted territory. They may question their new purpose in life and struggle with a lack of direction through this phase . Many of these women seek therapeutic support to aid their search for meaning and purpose; others find solace in building deep relationships with like-minded women who can serve as friends, advisors, and sounding boards. These connections can provide ongoing support long after counseling has achieved its goals and the crisis has resolved.

When it comes to professional help we face a dilemma. In the past, mental health services carried a stigma, but aging women, particularly baby boomers, have overcome this barrier. However, having explored various modalities such as psychotherapy, psychedelics, spiritual practices, and alternative medicine, some women may believe that psychotherapy offers nothing new for them in this phase of life. Thus, many  struggle with their dark night of the soul feeling lost and uncertain about their purpose in this unmapped land of aging. Overcoming this challenge requires a reorientation and a fundamental transformation of outlook towards oneself and the world but also a new paradigm for clinicians.. Empowering psychotherapy for aging women can provide a much-needed lifeline, helping them navigate the challenges of this new phase and find renewed purpose and fulfillment in their lives.

Rediscovering Purpose and Rebuilding Strength

The crisis of desolation and meaninglessness, some women experience as growing older often begins with a triggering event that catches these women off guard. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a health issue, a financial crisis, retirement, or facing discrimination, these events can make life, and the life they’ve been living, feel suddenly meaningless. Physical symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and muscle cramps may accompany emotional symptoms like depression, lack of motivation, and despondency. It is essential to provide support to rebuild their strength and help them rediscover the purpose of their lives.

Many of my patients come to see me feeling that way and asking what is next? what is my role? What do I do now? It is not that they want an active life as active as they knew it in the past, but engaged, nonetheless. Active in a different way with a different perspective. For some, an option is undertaking the road of empowering themselves and finding their soul-call by searching therapeutic support that can support their quest for purpose, for others helps comes from building deep relationships with other women who feel the same and who could become not only friends but advisors, and sounding boards long after counseling has reached its goal, and the crisis has resolved.

Rediscovering purpose is a transformative journey that leads to laying the foundations for a fulfilling life. Aging women must find a sense of peace, understanding, and wholeness that may have felt lost. While finding the right help can feel like a puzzle, it is crucial to acknowledge that the clinical profession needs to better understand the unique needs of the aging population, particularly baby boomers. As clinicians, we must be prepared to evolve and adapt to effectively support these women on their journey.

A Different Therapeutic Approach

Navigating the challenges of finding meaning in old age is not always easy, and sometimes professional help and support may be needed. Therapists and counselors can provide valuable guidance and support in exploring one’s values, beliefs, and goals, and help women develop strategies for finding meaning and fulfillment in their later years.

Traditional therapeutic approaches may not fully meet the needs of aging women who feel purposeless. These women have already navigated their parents’ issues, workplace misogyny, domestic violence, and power struggles within relationships. Therefore, a more here-and-now, existential, and practical coaching approach is necessary to become a beacon of support for these women. We must be effective companions on their journey, providing guidance and counseling based on wisdom and giving. Additionally, support groups and community organizations can offer a sense of belonging and understanding. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can provide a safe space for sharing, learning, and growing. Seeking professional help and support is a proactive step towards reclaiming a sense of purpose and meaning in old age.

Arianna Huffington introduces the concept of the “third metric,” which expands the traditional measures of success  and healing. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. By embracing these pillars, aging women can live the lives they truly want and deserve, rather than settling for less. Designing a successful roadmap to aging well involves the challenge of what an associate of mine called the five R’s: reinventing, re-envisioning, re-imagining, reconnecting, and remembering the “way we were” and the wisdom we had harnessed.

Embracing change and reinvention is crucial for aging women to navigate this uncharted land successfully. They must reimagine their possibilities, envision a bigger picture, and reconnect with their communities. It is essential to remember the accomplishments and dreams of their past and reignite the fire that once burned within. Even if it feels like the fire has diminished, those embers can be rekindled and transformed into a vibrant flame once again.

On a Final Note

Empowering older women is about more than just breaking stereotypes and challenging societal expectations. It’s about recognizing the immense value and wisdom that comes with age, and celebrating the unique experiences that have shaped them. Older women possess a wealth of knowledge and life lessons that can be shared with younger generations, paving the way for a brighter future. By embracing personal growth and self-discovery, they inspire others to do the same, proving that age is not a barrier to pursuing dreams and passions. Cultivating social connections becomes even more important as we grow older, as it offers support, companionship, and a sense of belonging. Whether through joining clubs or organizations, volunteering in the community, or simply connecting with loved ones, older women have the power to create meaningful relationships that enrich their lives and those around them.

Seeking professional help should never be seen as a sign of weakness or defeat; rather, it is an act of strength and self-care. By seeking therapy or counseling, older women can address any mental health challenges they may face and develop coping strategies to navigate life’s ups and downs. Empowering psychotherapy for aging women provides a transformative space for old women to navigate the uncertainties of this new phase of life, offering support and guidance as they redefine their purpose and find meaning in the midst of the void.

In doing so, they set an example for others by prioritizing their well-being and showing that it’s never too late to invest in oneself. Empowering older women means recognizing their inherent worth and potential, while encouraging them to embrace new opportunities and continue growing throughout their lives. By defying societal expectations and redefining what it means to grow older, they inspire us all to live with purpose, passion, and resilience at any age.

The Value of Older Women in Society: Embracing Wisdom and Redefining Roles.

Most of my patients are older adults, vibrant retirees, eager to make the most of their newfound freedom and explore new passions. Others are empty nesters, adjusting to the bittersweet reality of having their children leave home. And then there are the baby boomers, who are facing the challenges of aging with determination and a desire for continued personal growth. As society continues to prioritize youth and marginalize seniors, it is important to recognize the unique value that older women bring to the table. Baby boomer women, who grew up during the feminist movement of the sixties and seventies, have fought for equal rights and challenged negative stereotypes. However, they now find themselves in a world that often overlook their contributions.

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The Challenges of Aging and Remembering the Legacy of the Women’s Movement

As women age, they face unique personal challenges that raise profound questions about their roles in society. The traditional goals of reproduction and child-rearing are no longer applicable, and careers may be in the past. Many older women find themselves in limited identities, such as caring for grandchildren or fulfilling caregiving roles for family members. For those who have spent a lifetime trying to make a difference, these limited roles can be difficult to bear.

Many of them fought the battles undertaken by the women’s  movement of the sixties and seventies and laid the foundation for generations of activists dedicated to equal rights, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ+ rights, anti-ageism, and more. From the civil rights movement to the shelter movement, older women have been influenced by these struggles and the impact of these movements on older women and their social influence in our social fabric cannot be ignored.

We question how the women’s movement has affected women of age. The women who took what they learned as activists in the civil rights movement and applied it to the rampant sexism of the civil-rights and black-power movements – who participated in the first sweeping consciousness-raising process that Bettina Aptheker called “learning to name our oppression” – these women are still too young to have been included in Coming of Age. But that phase of the women’s movement spawned two generations of equal rights, abortion rights, lesbian and gay rights, anti-ageism, and AIDS activists; a devoted, beleaguered army of caretakers of abused women and children in the shelter movement; and labor groups such as the CLUW and Women in the Trades, to name only a few “special interest” groups. Many old women, someplace along the line, have been affected by those struggles. In a youth-oriented society, aging women are often seen as invisible and diminished. The physical signs of aging, such as dry skin and wrinkles, are contrasted with the societal ideals of youth, beauty, vitality, and accomplishment. Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian psychotherapist, aptly stated that becoming an older woman in a youth-oriented patriarchy is to become invisible, a nonentity. The “aging” woman, with her dry skin and wrinkled body, does not represent the pretty, sexy, vital, or accomplished; she is considered to be in her dimmed time. Jungian psychotherapist and author Jean Shinoda Bolen have said, “In a youth-oriented patriarchy, especially, to become an older woman is to become invisible: a nonentity.” Or, as historian Bettina Aptheker said in a public lecture of older people, especially women, “We’re either invisible, or we’re in the way.”This perception raises questions about the future and value of older women in society.

Elderly women today face personal challenges, triggering some profound questions–among them: What is their role as they age? Reproduction is no longer a goal; nor is raising children. If they had a career, it is in the past, or nearly so, and they feel they need something different but what?. Traditional roles for midlife or older women, such as caring for grandchildren or caregiving for a husband or other family member–are still common for women; these limited identities may be difficult to bear for those who spent a lifetime trying to make a difference. Needless to say that some of us, still are battling “those dragons” as Studs Terkel said when dedicating his book, Coming of Age, that we face when dealing with our own  “dark night of the soul”. We perceive this phase, often, as an explosion of a deep sense of meaninglessness. Nothing makes sense anymore, there’s no purpose to anything, one feels unvalued and drifting without a clear intention.

Then, what’s the future for this woman? What role should aging women play in our society? In a society where ageism and feminism are prevalent, it becomes crucial to address the future of older women. Empowering older women is not just about breaking barriers and changing stereotypes, but also about recognizing their immense value and contributions. As we strive for equality, it is essential to create opportunities that allow aging women to continue making a difference in various spheres of life. By embracing their wisdom, experience, and unique perspectives, society can benefit tremendously from the guidance and mentorship of these trailblazing women. It is time to challenge societal norms and ensure that older women are given the respect and platform they deserve to continue shaping our future.

Embracing Wisdom and Redefining Roles

While society may overlook the value of older women, there is a wealth of wisdom and experience that comes with age. Older women have lived through significant social changes and have valuable insights to offer. Their experiences can serve as a guide for younger generations and contribute to the collective wisdom of society.

Instead of accepting limited identities, older women have the opportunity to redefine their roles in society. They can break free from societal expectations and explore new avenues for personal growth and fulfillment. Mentoring younger individuals, engaging in community activism, pursuing creative endeavors, and advocating for causes they are passionate about are just a few examples of how older women can contribute to society. By reinventing themselves and using their wisdom to create and enrich the next generations of fighters, they could play a crucial role in enhancing our communities and, by the same token, value their background and history.  Creating intergenerational relationships, and connections with younger individuals, older women can pass on their wisdom, share their experiences, and bridge the generation gap. These relationships benefit both parties, as younger individuals gain valuable insights while older women remain engaged and connected to the world around them.

Overcoming Ageism and Unleashing Your Power

Ageism is a pervasive issue that affects older women disproportionately. By challenging ageist stereotypes and advocating for equal treatment, older women can create a more inclusive society. Recognizing the contributions of older women and providing them with opportunities for continued growth and participation will help combat ageism. Older women need to be seen and heard in all aspects of society. Media, advertising, and popular culture should reflect the diversity of women of all ages. By showcasing the accomplishments and stories of older women, society can break free from the narrow focus on youth and celebrate the contributions of all individuals. Representation matters!

Older women have played significant roles in shaping society and continue to have much to offer. It is essential that we recognize their value, embrace their wisdom, and provide opportunities for them to redefine their roles. By challenging ageist stereotypes, fostering intergenerational relationships, and designing new spaces and opportunities for older women to be part of our communities, we can create a more inclusive and equitable society that appreciates the unique contributions of older women. Let us celebrate their accomplishments and ensure that their voices are heard and valued in a space and time where age does not limit one’s potential or worth. By empowering older women, we can collectively work towards a more equitable and progressive society for all.

How to Thrive as Empty Nesters: Embracing a New Chapter of Life

As a childless auntie, I may not have firsthand experience with the joys and challenges of raising children, but I can certainly empathize with my sister as she experiences the mixed emotions  that come with witnessing her beloved child, my one and only nephew, finally leave the nest and venture off to college. It’s a rollercoaster ride, isn’t it?

On one hand, you can’t help but feel proud and happy as you watch them embark on this exciting new phase of their lives. You are filled with delight at the thought of the incredible opportunities that await them, the friendships they will form, and the knowledge they will acquire. It feels like watching a baby bird take its first flight, except with a lot more textbooks and late-night ramen noodle meals, and a larger tuition bill. But let’s be honest here, my friends, despite wanting to believe that you are all sunshine and rainbows when your children fly away, there is also a hint of sadness beneath your cheerful facade. Suddenly, your homes feel empty, silent, and dare I say it, from my sister’s perspective…tidier?

Entering the empty nest phase marks a profound life trajectory shift. As your children embark on their independent journeys, an exciting opportunity for self-discovery and personal growth awaits you. Empty nesters can embrace and maximize this transformative phase, turning it into a time of flourishing and newfound fulfillment.

Discover New Interests

Empty nesters often find themselves with more free time than they’ve had in years. Embrace this newfound freedom by exploring new passions and interests. Now is the perfect time to engage in activities you’ve always wanted to try, whether it’s taking up painting, trying out a new sport, or delving into the world of crafts. These are the hobbies that may have taken a back seat during the busy parenting years.

Online Learning for Career Advancement

When contemplating career advancement, consider the benefits of online learning. Pursuing specialized degrees, such as cybersecurity, can significantly enhance your skill set and pave the way for exciting professional opportunities. Online programs offer the flexibility needed to effectively balance your current responsibilities with your educational pursuits, ensuring a seamless path to career growth. Moreover, cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand fields today, and understanding how computers and network systems function equips you to help countless businesses and individuals.

Prioritize Your Social Life

Strengthening your social bonds is crucial during this phase of life. Make an effort to reconnect with friends and family members who may have taken a back seat during the parenting years. Join clubs or groups aligned with your interests to meet like-minded individuals who share your passions. Actively seek out opportunities to expand your social circle. Nurturing these connections can provide support and enrich your life in countless ways.

Engaging in a vibrant social life can be incredibly fulfilling for empty nesters, providing an opportunity to not only reconnect with friends, but also to forge new connections and explore exciting activities together.

Help Others and Give Back

Contributing to your community or causes you’re passionate about can be incredibly fulfilling during the empty nest phase. Utilize your experience and skills to make a meaningful difference. Whether it’s mentoring, organizing events, or supporting local charities, volunteering benefits others and brings a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Remember that volunteering is about helping others, but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from it as well. Helping to improve the lives of others has a way of boosting our own well-being.

This is true as well for retired older adults and middle-aged women, who have the unique opportunity to not only reinvent themselves but also inspire and guide younger generations by being mentors, leveraging their wealth of life experience and wisdom.

Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones

As your children venture into adulthood, cherish your moments with them. Reconnect with your life partner and create opportunities for quality time together. Consider hosting family gatherings to foster a sense of togetherness. Embrace the joy of spending time with grandchildren and extended family members, nurturing those precious family bonds that will bring you fulfillment and happiness.

Transform Your Living Space

Empty nesters often find themselves with extra space and resources. Use this opportunity to elevate your living space to new heights. Whether it’s renovating a room, crafting a comfortable and stylish environment, or personalizing your home to reflect your individuality, investing in your living space can enhance your daily life and make your home a sanctuary of comfort and creativity.

Opt for Mindfulness

Prioritize self-care and mental wellness during the empty nest phase. Explore wellness practices such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness to bring a sense of calm and balance to your life. This phase offers the time and space to focus on your well-being, and by doing so, you can enhance your overall quality of life. Take stock of your blessings, practice gratitude, and spend more time in the present moment, fully embracing the opportunities that lie ahead.

Embrace New Beginnings

The phase of the empty nest is a thrilling and transformative chapter in life. It offers a chance to reinvent oneself and establish a gratifying, purpose-driven existence beyond parenthood. Embrace the possibilities that come with this new chapter and make the most of this exhilarating stage in life. With the right mindset, you can flourish as an empty nester and uncover a fresh sense of fulfillment and happiness.

Although, you may find yourself missing the sound of your children’s laughter, the chaos they brought into your lives, and even their irritating habit of leaving dirty socks strewn about–who would have imagined that one would yearn for those little irritations? Yet, it is in these moments of longing that you truly comprehend the immense love and joy your children brought into your lives. So, as we bid them farewell and watch them embark on this thrilling journey, let us cling to the memories and cherish the time we spent together. And who knows, maybe one day we will even long for those dirty socks.

Getting Older? Do not Downsize but Upsize with Mindfulness



You know how they say seniors should downsize and simplify things, like moving to a smaller house or senior community? After working in senior care, I know from experience that downsizing is the good choice for many but here’s a thought – why not upsize, making it bigger and larger by introducing positive changes? Mindfulness can totally transform your daily life.

Mindfulness techniques such as meditation, Qi Gong, and gratitude exercises have been scientifically proven to enhance cognitive function and promote overall well-being in older adults. These practices can also help reduce negative emotions such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Research shows that using mindfulness, as easy as focusing on your breathing and paying attention to the present moment — two things you can do anywhere and at no cost—can improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Therefore, infusing mindfulness into activities such as creating art, being outdoors, working out, or moving for fun or just moving around, going on with your daily routine can transform the experience for the better. Furthermore, it has been noted that there is a modest yet progressively growing body of evidence indicating that integrating regular meditation into one’s daily routine may potentially decelerate the aging process, particularly at a cellular level.  (Check out the piece featured in The Guardian about the positive impact of meditation on cellular aging).

Alright, I‘m convinced that seniors would really benefit from practicing mindfulness, so here‘s a few tips to get them going.

Embrace Nature’s Palette 

Nature offers a rich tapestry for mindfulness. Spend time outdoors, fully immersed in the natural world. Notice the details — the intricate patterns of leaves, the ever-changing canvas of the sky, the melody of bird songs. This connection fosters a deep sense of tranquility and mindfulness. Let this immersion in nature be a reminder of life’s simple beauty and the rhythm of the natural world.

Discover Art Mindfully

Art offers a unique path to mindfulness. Engage with art, whether in your home or at a gallery, with full attention. Notice the colors, the textures, the emotions it evokes. This mindful exploration can deepen your emotional connection to the world around you. Allow yourself to be lost in the artwork, finding new perspectives and insights with each viewing.

Listen with Intent

Music becomes a powerful tool for mindfulness, even assisted living facilities are encouraging the practice of mindfulness, when listened to with intent. Notice the blend of instruments, the rhythm, the emotions it stirs within you. This practice can be a profound source of relaxation and self-reflection, transforming the listening experience. As you listen, let the music wash over you, becoming fully absorbed in the sonic journey it offers. Mindfulness is not a distant concept reserved for quiet meditation rooms; it is a vibrant, accessible practice that can be integrated into the fabric of our everyday lives. By consciously choosing to be present in our routine activities, we open ourselves to a world of calm, clarity, and connection. The journey to mindfulness begins with a single, intentional step — a step towards a more aware, peaceful, and fulfilling life.

Moving Mindfully

When it comes to exercising, walking, and more, mindfulness can help you to seize the activity, and enjoy your life, fully. Bob says, mindful physical activity — whether yoga, running, or simply stretching — can dramatically enhance your awareness. Thus, pay close attention to each movement, the flow of your breath, the sensations in your body, just walk slowly and deliberately, paying attention to each step and the sensations you experience. Focus on your own movement and the sensation of the ground beneath you, and the sounds of nature around you.. Hey, taking a mindful stroll not only makes you feel refreshed and calm, but it also counts as a light exercise and a way to stay flexible and mobile.

Design an Inspirational Visual

Elevate your meditation environment by crafting a personalized inspirational poster. Select an online template that resonates with you and make it uniquely yours. Add your own text and photos to infuse it with personal significance, creating a visual symbol that anchors you in your mindfulness journey. This tailored piece serves as a daily reminder of your dedication to the practice of awareness. This visual creation not only beautifies your space but also serves as a constant source of motivation and reflection.

For those who enjoy “surfing” the webthere is a wealth of articles and advice on how to cultivate mindfulness.  Discover a more tranquil and mindful way of living with the help of 21 Mindfulness Activities For Seniors & Older Adults published by the Mindfulness Box. One of those are published by the Mindfulness Box as that can help you navigate your path to a more peaceful and mindful life. Learning to be mindful could really help old folks deal with all the tough parts of getting older and make them feel better both physically and mentally.

Evolving laws create new psychedelic opportunities for seniors

During my search for insights on the use of psychedelics in promoting mental well-being, I learned there has been a significant increase in the amount of favorable attention given to psychedelics as a potential remedy for a wide range of psychological disorders through various media outlets.

Studies on the use of Psychedelics  like psilocybin, ketamine and MDMA are at the forefront of pioneering treatments for depression, PTSD, cancer, and other disorders. The emotional impact of cancer patients, who participated  in clinical trials and received psilocybin-assisted therapy  for extreme depression and demoralization is particularly profound.

While describing their “journeys”,  they frequently share a profound experience of boundless love, forgiveness, and resolution of traumas carried throughout their lives. Positive transformations have permanently impacted their remaining days, months, and years.

As we grow older, we may find ourselves reflectingdelving into spirituality, and seeking purpose; a carefully crafted psychedelic trip can address all of those factors.  For a whole cohort of aging baby boomers, the chance to partake in a psychedelic ceremony  has the potential to revolutionize our perspectives on aging and mortality. It may be time to reconsider our views on psychedelics. Abby Rosner stays on her article Are Hallucinogens for You? how ” a changing legal landscape opens psychedelic opportunities for older adults…”. I also chanced upon a compelling article from The Guardian that was passed along by a colleague. The topic of Shayla Love’s “Long-lost Best Friends” and the impact of psychedelics on the longevity movement caught my eye. Learn about the compelling correlation between psychedelics and aging as the article delves into the world of individuals who are turning to these substances for their anti-aging and mental health benefits.

Psychedelics can be safely administered to healthy adults but  The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, on its article  The Safety and Efficacy of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapies for Oldr Adults: Knowns and Unknowns “calls for caution”…However, both psilocybin and MDMA can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which could be a concern if used in older adults with cardiovascular disease. Very few older adults or patients with serious comorbidities have been included in clinical trials of psychedelics to date, raising the question of how generalizable study results are for the patients that most gero-psychiatrists will be treating…” The potential benefits of psychedelic compounds for older adults are significant, but more research is needed to ensure they are safe and effectiveespecially for those with multiple health challenges. While aging can be a challenge, those who embrace it with courage will find limitless opportunities.


Ageism and Sexism

We Need A New Paradigm for Old-er Women.


I was stunned when Debbie—my 67-yer-old client, who has one Ph.D. in American history and a JD—told me that her contract as full-time faculty at a local law school had not been renewed. She is vivacious, energetic, intelligent, and adored by her students. I asked immediately, why? She has always told me she was on the “retire-at-85” plan and as far as I knew, Academia is supposed to be a world of respect and knowledge; a place where attaining knowledge and wisdom are regarded as the ultimate achievements. Nonetheless, Debbie told me she was forced into retirement! Debbie had spent 25 years of her life as a professor for several graduate and law schools, during which time she had received many awards for research and groundbreaking work. Now, she said “retirement has been forced on me, and my courses have been assigned to young-er faculty members, who are less expensive. For the first time, I have faced ageism as never before, and it is not a theoretical concept, anymore. It is real.” She, too, was shocked.

Yes indeed, ageism –although an old paradigm—is still in full force, current and pervasive permeating all layers of our society. Perhaps it is time to kick this new old paradigm with its ill-fated consequences for our society’s well-being to the curb and embrace a different more optimistic, engaging, and active paradigm of aging: one that does not fear aging but embrace it as a very meaningful and with a great potential phase of life.


Like we did not have enough with the ageism in our culture, we also need to face Sexism.  The prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, against women, on the basis of sex, is a fact very well known on all fronts of society and affects women of all walks of life. Instances of sexism are experienced by our mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and all women and girls around the world. It is one of those phenomena would like to have the exclusivity of it but it is not like that. It is pervasive and perverse all around the world.

Sexism is based on the prejudice and extensive generalization that there is something faulty in women and it continues to impede women from their rights to grow and thrive in our society. Perhaps we are not as pretty and firm as we were when young-er but seasoned –or spicy, hot women—had fought for equality, diversity, had raised their self-esteem, run for public office. They have shaved off their internalized ageism and are ready to venture into new characters, created new connections, and created a new wave of accomplished women who give us the inspiration we need to live as first-class citizens and make our golden years shine and count, and do what needs to be done.

Not all of us get to that place and nevertheless, it is worth trying. A place where we can branch out, revolt, or go quietly happily ever after about life. Whatever works for you do it with gusto! Let’s this new woman be at the top of the hill and not over the hill. She can change her image of a raggedy crone to the one of mentor. to be proud and loud.

As many of us who are undertaking the journey through the uncharted land, we become pioneers with no maps but following our moral compass to be the best we can be. Being the eternal optimistic and positive thinker, she is, at 80 Ms. Steinem finds herself more productive and at peace than ever.  “…A dwindling libido, she theorized, can be a terrific advantage: “The brain cells that used to be obsessed are now free for all kinds of great things…”