David A Gwilt | Entertainer 4 the Ages

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Hi, my name is David Gwilt and this is another chapter of Thoughts 4 The Ages.Today, I want to talk to you about isolation; aging and isolation. You know, there are different stages of aging, that I learned about when I was in grad school,taking some gerontology classes several years ago at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. We talked about the young old and the middle old and the old old, and at that point I wasn’t even in the young old category. Here are the categories.

The young old is 65 to 74 and I’m at the very end of that young old demographic right now. The middle old goes from 75 to 84 and the old old is 85 to, it just says 85 and over; I call it 85 to dead because you know that’s kind of the end of the old old segment. Isolation contributes to a lot of let’s just say bad things for seniors: bad [physical health, mental illness, lack of caring for yourself, lack of the ability to function, the activities of daily living, lack of ability to do that. People stop eating, they stop bathing. They pretty much are in a vegetative state physically and which can lead to that type of vegetative state, I guess, mentally, and if no one cares about them or if they don’t get involved in life. Now I think that aging is an interesting journey. I’ve always thought that from the time I was a young man and used to sit around listening to my aunts and uncles and my grandparents talk about their lives and their aging experience and from the time they were little until you know the current age they were whether that was 70, 80, 90 or beyond. I’m a firm believer that you need a sense of purpose in your life  and that can be just about anything. Whether your sense of purpose is to get up in the morning and walk your dog, whether it’s get up in the morning and feed your cats or both, whether it is to reach out to someone that you love and see how they’re doing that day, whether it is to plan on getting to a meeting, whether it’s your plans to get to a doctor visit, call a loved one, anything that gives you a reason to get your body out of bed. Because unfortunately too often I think people, they wake up in the morning, they lie there and they’re not really sure they’re happy to awaken again. And they don’t have a purpose for getting out of bed and so they get into what I guess refer to as a vegetative state, they’re just waiting to die. They don’t find joy in life and I will tell you that there is joy everywhere. You know, at 74 I still find a lot of joy in my days. I wake up in the morning with a purpose, I know what I’m going to have that day, but I have a list of things that I can do. For example, I’ve got several topics that I want to do these on, these video blogs, and I need to get inspired to do it. And so this morning I was inspired to do this one on isolation and aging and the deleterious effects of isolating. And other days maybe it’s I need to work on my website or other days maybe it’s I need to study lines for a play that I’m in. Other days it may be to getto more 12-step meetings. Whatever it is, I wake up with a purpose every day and start my day with some prayer and then you know move on from there. So one of the causes, obviously, of isolating as we get older is loss of loved ones, whether it’s a loss of a spouse or the loss of a job or your children moving away or all of those things put together and loss of friends. And I think people start getting into, OK, life is over now. There’s no more purpose. The spouse is passed on, the children have moved away, I don’t have a job anymore, there’s no need for me to get up and shower, and if you&re a guy, shave, or a lady, put on your makeup, get dressed, whatever it is. There’s no one counting on you anymore.

But I have to tell you that other people are counting on you. That one of the greatest joys that I found in aging and in living in general is to be of service to others. And that means just reaching out to someone that you care about to see how they’re doing. The best way for me to get out of feeling sorry for myself and isolating is to pick up the phone and reach out to someone. Reach out to somebody I know and just ask them how they’re doing. Do they need any help with anything? Sometimes it’s just a kind word or a laugh or a joke that will turn their day around and then they’ll reach out to someone else and it becomes this ripple effect, this domino effect where people just keep reaching out to each other. I heard a presentation years ago by the Dalai Lama up in Syracuse University and one of the things he said was you can’t change the world all at once but you can impact the world one person at a time, one person to one person. And then it becomes that domino effect where people start to feel better. I think continuing to learn is another important part of avoiding isolation. I’ve always liked to learn and I don’t always mean book stuff. It’s just being aware of life and being open-minded to all the things that are going on in the world, to the beauty of the world. I think we get complacent and it’s a sunny day or the flowers are in bloom or the birds are singing and we don’t think, it’s like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that for years now. All of that stuff is vibrant and adds to the joy of living. I think that we need to continue to learn the joys of that. You need to be active obviously. You need to control your own life and don’t let
anyone else hold the pen. I talk about this a lot in my presentations. Don’t let people tell you what you cannot do. You don’t know what you can or cannot do until you try it. And if you try something and it doesn’t work the first time, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. That just means there’s more steps to be able to accomplish it. You know Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and supposedly it took him 9,999 failed attempts to get it. And people said, well, geez, you failed all these other times. And he said, no, no, no, no, no. He said there were just 10,000 steps in the process to get there. And so I would encourage you to get outside the lines, cross the double lines in the road. I don’t mean really, I don’t mean when you’re driving cross the double lines. What I mean is in your life, take chances because 20 years from now, if we’re still around, you’re going to regret the things you didn’t do much more than the things that you did do. My name is David Gwilt. This is Thoughts 4 The Ages. You can reach out to me, David, at DavidAGwilt.com. Leave your comments. If there’s a topic you’d like to hear about or you just want to comment on this, I’d love to hear from you. Again, my name is David Gwilt and this is Thoughts 4 The Ages. 

Have a wonderful day.