6 Traits for Growing Old with Grace


In celebration of Work/Life hiring a new Elder Care Consultant, Kim Andreaus, I am posting this blog I wrote on tips for growing old with grace!

George Vaillant, author of Aging Well, uses the long-term longitudinal Study of Adult Development (2002) to suggest six traits for growing old with grace.  The majority of older adults maintain a “modest sense of well-being” usually until a few months before they die.  Older adults are actually less depressed than the general population.  Vaillant concludes that “positive aging means to love, to work, to learn something we did not know yesterday, and to enjoy the remaining precious moments with loved ones.”

He also reminds us that “Immanual Kant wrote his first book of philosophy at 57, Titian created many artworks after 76, Ben Franklin invented bifocals at 78, Will Durant won a Pulitzer Prize for history at 83, Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum at age 90, Leopold Stokowski signed a 6-year recording contract at 94, and Grandma Moses was still painting at 100.”

So what are the traits this study identified for growing old with grace?

  1. Caring about others and remaining open to new ideas
  2. Showing cheerful tolerance of the indignities of old age
  3. Maintaining hope
  4. Maintaining a sense of humor and capacity for play
  5. Taking sustenance from past accomplishments while remaining curious and continuing to learn from the next generation
  6. Maintaining contact and intimacy with old friends

I would love to hear about how you are implementing these suggestions in your life!


About Author

Lisa Allred

Work Life Program Manager

Lisa Allred comes to SAS with a long history of working with families throughout the lifespan. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Wake Forest Universtity and her Masters in Social Work from UNC-CH, her career began as a child therapist focusing on parenting, anxiety and trauma. She then moved into college counseling where she emphasized student wellness and balance.

1 Comment

  1. My great grandmother lived to be 96. When asked how she lived this was her answer. "Eat light, exercise every day, never stop learning and have a short shot just before bedtime. ". In her case brandy and milk. Then she said " but I cannot figure out how television works"

    Both my parents lived long lives dad 98 mom 100 they never stopped working on some project, maintained younger friends (80 was younger) and always had a small drink every night.

    I have just invested in a 20 year supply of cognac.

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