By Nancy Weinbeck, CEO of Bayview
At Bayview, we love our work because we love our residents! We become better people in their presence.
George Eliot wrote of her protagonist Dorothea in Middlemarch: “the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life…”
Our residents are far from hidden, but like Dorothea, their wisdom, grace, sense of humor, creative approaches to problem solving, perspective, experience, generosity, spirit, are gifts of age that we as staff are eager to absorb and nourish in the development of our own humanity. Research is beginning to uncover the value of shifting mindsets around aging. We are learning from research scientists like Becca Levy at Yale University that changing the way one thinks about aging can extend longevity and promote better health outcomes as one ages.
Loving our residents means gaining a different understanding and appreciation for the latter part of the life span. For some of us, this means thinking about growing older in a more positive way. For others, it means reaffirming our sense of beauty and wonder at all aspects of human development. In either case, shifting mindsets translates to better health outcomes and greater sense of well-being as we age. We refer our readers to the many published articles by Becca Levy and her colleagues for those who are interested in diving into the research.*
Our AgeUp team decided to take a twist on an old anxiety-ridden phrase and turn it on its head. Looking at physical stereotypes of markers that can indicate old age (like wrinkles), we turned
them into statements of acknowledgement, acceptance and appreciation. The more we are exposed to positive images and messages around aging, the more easily our mindsets can shift in a positive direction. We believe this will not only make us more compassionate, but will help us as we ourselves age.