It has been said many times that children are the future. However, we cannot forget the parents and grandparents. Through the years, our society has become obsessed with the negative rather than the positive aspects of aging. There is an ingrained belief that the older generation is frail, unproductive and a burden to their family. Specifically, many of these beliefs refer to the aging women in our society. Most older Americans are women. Their average life expectancy at birth is 79.4 years compared to 73.9 years for men. Life expectancy is expected to increase throughout this century at a slightly higher rate among women (Greenberg, 2000). .
For many older women in America, these beliefs are considered untrue. My Grandma Pat is one of those. She is a 78-year-old cancer survivor who loves social activities, enjoys traveling and volunteers in the community regularly. Needless to say, she cannot sit idle for very long. Being a diabetic for the past eight years and having emphysema related to her chemotherapy treatments does not stop her determination and positive attitude of a person who enjoys life.
Although Grandma Pat became a widow sixteen years ago, she continues to travel. She loves to visit friends in Oklahoma and drives there frequently. My grandparents hoped to travel the continental U.S. to visit each of the 48 states before venturing to Europe. Unfortunately, Grandpa Jim's desire was cut short. Asserting her newfound independence, my grandma has traveled to Ireland, Alaska, and on a Caribbean cruise. She told me, "I have the freedom and time to do the things I want without having someone's approval." .
More importantly, my grandma has a great outlook on life. Mason (2003) states, "Despite the challenges, many seniors and those who work with them say age is an attitude and being physically and socially active can help seniors feel younger." Grandma has become the cheerleader for her group of friends.