Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY

Q: What does “Successful Aging” look like?

A: The phrase “successful aging” was first coined by researchers Rowe and Kahn in 1996. The model they proposed included, “Freedom from disease and disability, high cognitive and physical functioning, and active engagement with life.” The only problem with this concept, is that many (darn near all) older adults will eventually be unable to meet all three criteria. Does this make them a failure? Of course not.

Perhaps succeeding means finding ways to cope with illnesses, losses, and diminishing powers, by getting help and working within the boundaries of one’s own resilience and capabilities. In this way, despite experiencing sickness or loss, older people can find ways to meet their challenges. And in doing so, can find ways to experience positive outcomes such as life satisfaction, meaning, contentment, and the ability to participate in valued activities.

Losses and impairments with age are a fact of life. Imagine a world where the prospect of loss did not instill fear; where instead age was embraced as a challenge that brought opportunities?  What if, we were better at acknowledging and celebrating the resilience of older adults and admired the way they problem solve and work through issues? What if older people felt more comfortable asking for help, before their needs became a crisis? What if we were better at providing that help? We must find ways to make it easier for ALL aging adults to get the support they need, both to proactively prepare for late life stressors and to help them adapt when they occur. Okay, end of soapbox speech.

Aging in place allows the elderly to remain in their own homes as they age, rather than moving to nursing homes. Everyone wants this. You can age in place and remain independent –with more personalized services. There are all kinds of modifications for daily living that can allow older adults to stay in their homes longer. Planning for this, however, is complicated by not knowing how your needs will change. The first step is to think NOW about the kinds of help you might want in the near future.

I’ve been doing this a long time and this is what I know: Seniors want to hold on to their independence, they don’t want to be told how much help they need, or what they can’t do. Truly successful aging? A life that allows seniors to keep the independence they want and deserve, whether at home, in an independent living community or assisted living. Come talk to me in Viera, or Brenda in Altamonte Springs, and we’ll figure out your plan together.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place in Viera.