Nuns Crossing 5th Ave. in NYC Sunday morning after January 2016 Blizzard
Seeing these agile, apparently hardy nuns navigating snow and slush to cross 5th Avenue last Sunday, triggered my long ago thinking about the MacArthur Foundation research and the Nun Study. Although I don't remember an emphasis on "active engagement with life" in the Nun Study, I remember thinking at the time that nuns are part of a community experiencing social connectedness and are actively engaged; and I wondered if that also helped them age well.
Today the importance of connections with others in helping people age well is well recognized. Nuns don't have children, but they do have a community which supports and connects with them throughout life.
Our parents, on the other hand, have children, but their community--their supports--dwindle as they age, leaving lonely, unhappy elders with adult children who often live many miles away with job and family responsibilities. In addition, many parents don't want to impose on their children "who have their own lives." And few older people want to give up their homes and the independence that they feel, even when they could benefit from the extra help and socialization. (We all know this.) The question remains--What to do?
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