In Alaskan Native culture “successful aging” doesn’t mean looking 20 years younger and maintaining the illusion of youthful energy and activity until you drop dead in your boots.
In Alaskan Native culture, “Successful aging” = Elderhood.
We would be wise to learn from our elders in the North.
The latest issue of The Gerontologist features a study by Jordan Lewis of University of Alaska Fairbanks examining Alaskan Natives’ holistic perspectives on aging and “eldership”:
Rather than establishing a definition of successful aging for Alaska Native Elders, this study highlights the four elements of “Eldership” or what Alaska Native Elders believe are important characteristics to becoming a respected elder. The four elements of “Eldership” are emotional well-being, community engagement, spirituality, and physical health, which are the characteristics of Alaska Natives who have reached “Eldership” and become a respected Elder in their community.
Read the abstract at the very cool Indigenous Peoples and Issues website.