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How to NOT Grow Grumpy with Age

Reader Question:

I am a worried 65-year-old daughter whose mother has become quite difficult to care for emotionally. She is what I would call grumpy. Since I am like her in so many ways, I am concerned that I will be like her in 25 years. I don't want to be that way. Is there anything I can do to prevent becoming grumpy as I age?


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Our Answer:

The answer to your question is, for the most part, yes.  First of all, let’s assume no form of dementia is in your future. Dementia can alter the picture and mental state in various stages, which I will leave for another column.

Let’s talk about what cause grumpiness in older people.  I contend that it is not limited to the elderly, but that maybe the elderly are more willing to let it leak out and impact those around them. Often times, there is an entitlement that comes with age. We feel that we no longer have to hold it in, and that it is okay to say what we think.  Add to that the fact that many older adults do not hear or see well. Imagine yourself navigating the world with poor vision and hearing and knowing that it will not get better.

I am not suggesting that you be so sympathetic to the situation that you do nothing to prepare yourself for the likelihood that you will lose or have significantly reduced senses and abilities. You likely will live with some chronic loses if you are blessed with a long life.

With that said, here are some suggestions.

  • Make sure that you never quit doing some form of work, even after you "retire." Whether it's volunteering or working part time, it does not matter. Having a purpose matters. See to it that in some way you are set up to contribute. Everyone needs this.
  • Take care of your body. Moderate exercise according to your personal needs and goals, and make it part of your daily routine. Eat right and manage your weight.
  • Closely examine your attitude today. Are you carrying unresolved baggage that is going to spill all over at some point? Work towards resolution now, with a therapist if needed.
  • Make new friends, join groups and do this now.  Explore. You are never too old to do this. You want to enter the later stages of life surrounded by loving family and friends. 

Do not assume that you will become your mother if you take steps to prevent negative behaviors from occurring. You control your destiny. It does not need to be the same as your mother’s.

I wish you the best.