Never Outgrow Growth
We at The Eden Alternative have spent nearly twenty years thinking about how a life is well lived. The Eden Alternative Domains of Well Being were developed to try to capture the essence of a good life. Identity, Growth, Autonomy, Security, Connectedness, Meaning, and Joy all represent unique facets of well being.
Each is irreplaceable and important in its own right, but I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on the concept of growth.
As a child or a youth the concept of growth is a visible part of life. The first twenty years represent rampant, almost daily physical growth, a developing mental and emotional state, and an almost constant state of learning. Unfortunately, that definition of growth is unfairly applied to adulthood and beyond. Physicality shrinks as our youth begins to fade. Learning slows as we fall into routines and comfort zones.
The institutional paradigm pigeon holds old age as a time when the body shrinks rather than grows and experiencing new things becomes impossible, so old age has become a time when, by this definition, growth is impossible.
By the time a person reaches Elderhood the system is set up to stem the hemorrhaging of growth, by trying to keep the body and mind from declining any further.
The Eden Alternative rejects this youth-centered premise of growth. Instead we define growth as engaging in a care partnership with others. Though the body may be frail, a care partnership provides the opportunity for spiritual growth and connectedness.
We are curious to know the numerous ways you help promote growth in the lives of Elders as well as your own. Please share your stories.