Let Your Optimism Grow

I don't know why we so often wait for November and Thanksgiving to focus on thankfulness. I find that gratitude improves optimism and hope.

A recent Scientific American article (Optimism in Seniors Predicts Fewer Chronic Illnesses, Better Overall Health) emphasizes the connection between optimism and better health. Optimists are healthier than pessimists. "To maintain physical and mental health throughout older adulthood, try focusing especially hard on life's positives," the article advises. In other words (mine), be thankful now and throughout the year.

A recent Global Health Aging article (The Healing Power of Optimism—A Positive Outlook Can Improve Quality of Life and Health) points out that positive thinkers may handle the effects of stress much more effectively than negative thinkers. Stress can cause fatigue and headaches, and it certainly doesn't help anyone sleep well.

We have a choice to remain thankful and optimistic. There's something to be said for the Pollyanna and "the glad game." There's always something to be glad about.

I am thankful for so many things in my life, not the least of which is the opportunity to work with wonderful people to promote quality of life, independence and choice for older people and adults with disabilities.

I am thankful for those who serve with me on the Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services: Mary Anderson, Marsha Andrews, David Baker, Claire Brannan, Katty Chow, George Dicks, Kris Fredrickson, Beverley Heyden, Molly Holmes, Eric Martenson, Kathe Matrone, Mac McIntosh, Kate Miller, Tom Minty, John Okamoto, Elizabeth Phelan, Tony Provine, Dave Rogers, Berta Seltzer, Sue Shaw, and Lorna Stone.

I am also thankful Aging and Disability Services director Maureen Linehan's leadership and expertise, and that of the case managers, planners, and contract specialists on her staff.

I am thankful that the federal and state governments (and increasingly, local governments) fund services and supports for adults who could not otherwise live well in our community. To learn more, please take some time to review the Aging and Disability Services Area Plan for 2016–2019 (and a related article in this issue, "Creating Age- and Disability-Friendly Communities").

In closing, I'd like to quote my mother-in-law, who often said, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all." In my younger years, that annoyed me no end. But as I have grown in years, and hopefully in wisdom, it has proven helpful in dealing with difficult issues. It doesn't deny the reality of problems, but renders them surmountable.

Wishing everyone a happy November. Keep moving, stay connected, be thankful, and let your optimism grow!  

Contributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. Ava welcomes input from readers via e-mail (advisorychair@agewisekingcounty.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council, when they occur. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.

Here is a sample of what Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services members are working on:

The Council meets monthly. Much of the work is conducted in committees. If you are interested in joining the Advisory Council, visit our How to Join webpage or contact Aging and Disability Services planner Gigi Meinig at 206-684-0652 or gigi.meinig@seattle.gov.