Does our Identity Change when we Age?

Does our identity change when we age?

Does our identity change when we age? Why is this a relevant question? The sympathetic Belgian psychiatrist Paul Verhaeghe is very precise about this (from his book The end of psychotherapy): “Without identity we are no more than our body.”

What is the core of our identity? What makes our identity so important? The answer Verhaeghe gives is very surprising: we have an identity because we share an enormous amount of human traits with other humans. The Latin identitas means: similarity.


We share our identity with the group, with the many groups, to which we belong. We belong to these groups because we share the same symbolic expressions. Assisted by those symbols our identity nurses self-awareness, stability and continuity. That’s why it is so important.

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Effective Communication between Couples, Young or Aging

Effective Communication between Couples, Young or Aging

I guess everybody does it; sitting on a terrace and watching other people’s behavior? I love it, especially when something happens of which you know the outcome before it occurs. 🙂

I knew when I heard the elderly couple arguing about which way to go, he would have it his way and she would be right in the end. So she reluctantly followed him and after 100 meter plus another argument they turned around and passed us again going in the opposite direction. 

It wasn’t a very effective communication between couples. He didn’t want to listen to her and was only focused on having it his way. She was obviously not capable of talking to him in a way that would convince him without giving him the idea he was stupid.

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To prevent health risks you need your social circle

To prevent health risks you need your social circle

When you’re aging and want to prevent health risks, you have to motivate your social circle as much as yourself. Even when you’re over 60, prevention of health risks pays off. However, such prevention does not come easy.

Prevention is a lifestyle intervention tool. For most of us our lifestyle is the consequence of a long and repetitive social process. That’s why it’s very hard to try to change your lifestyle on your own.

As much as yourself, you will have to motivate the social circles in which you participate. In this article I explain why, and offer some suggestions on how you can motivate your social circle to help you.

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How to make friends when you are older?

How to make friends when you are older?

Years ago, when all my friends were either occupied by working very hard or by doting on grandchildren and babysitting them, I was convinced I needed new friends. I was equally convinced it’s impossible to make friends when you are older!

Negative or limiting beliefs serve nobody. And being convinced it is not possible to do something is a sure guarantee I won’t be able to do it. Duh. I am so glad I was wrong, but I only realized this when I read some posts in one of the Facebook groups I am in.

This is a group with a lot of single or widowed women and the topic often is solitude and loneliness. And I do realize my position is privileged, because I am happily married. For 45 years, so I can in no way imagine how I would feel when I would be alone.

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Cherish your sweet memories

Cherish your sweet memories

The other day sweet memories awoke. A friend of mine posted a map of a small village at the Belgium border were I used to cycle with my race bike. Especially when the sun was shining and I had some time off, I frequently went for a ride there. His post made me go back in time.

My memories of these rides swiftly and vividly came back to me. I was amazed how precisely I could picture the tracks I used to ride. Where I had to go left. Where the roads were rough. Or where I was going down or up and had to push for some extra power. Sweet memories indeed.

My memories

However, these are my memories. The memories of the rides I made. The rides appear as pictures, or even as a movie, in my head. Do the people I left behind in The Netherlands will remember me as ‘cycling Tom’? Even if they might, they will never share my memories.

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Do you understand your everyday communication?

Everyday communication

The older I get the more aware I am of the peculiarities in my everyday communication. After all these years I think I understand everything and do not need to explain too much. For most of the time that is true. But on some occasions my ears are tuned to what I want to hear and my partner asks where I am with my head.

These are the moments that I become aware that nothing is more complicated as good communication. In this blog I will try to explain what makes good communication so difficult.

To make it as clear as possible, the blog is not aimed at improving your personal communication. No rules of thumb will be presented. But the following analysis of the difficulties of communicating will help you to better understand your own everyday communication.

How difficult can communication be?

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Have you ever thought of ballroom dancing as a form of exercise?

ballroom dancing as a form of exercise

My parents used to go to Benidorm every year for 8 months. So I would visit them at least once every winter season. My mother loved walking through the surf and most of the times I would accompany her then.

When we walked in the morning everything was quiet, but if we were late and it was already afternoon, we would hear music long before we were on the boulevard. This music came from several big cafes where they had cleared the center of tables and chairs to create an empty spot that served as a dance floor.

Every afternoon the places were crowded with elderly people enjoying themselves hugely with foxtrots, waltzes and other ballroom dances.

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How to cross personal and social boundaries

90 year old

Why does a woman of 90 say: “I am not old. My neighbor is old.” And how old is your neighbor? “91.” With her statement the 90 year old woman emphasizes her independence. She warns you not to cross her personal boundaries. To cross personal and social boundaries is an effort.

The fear of crossing personal and social boundaries is a common human quality. Most people don’t want to ask others for help. The fear of losing independence is the biggest psychological threshold. On the other hand, nearly everybody is willing and prepared to help others. 

To get something done we will have to cross our personal and social boundaries. Many personal issues we address with AGEwithCARE tackle this challenge.* Yet there is a limit in how much care you can take of yourself. Our personal time, space, and behavior just have their boundaries. How do we cross these boundaries? 

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New and unexpected risks, a challenge when aging

New and unexpected risks become increasingly challenging as we move on in life. That’s partly because we have already invested heavy in coping with the risks we encountered earlier on. Risk management has become an important part of everyday modern life. This responsibility weights heavy on us. The more since it covers so many topics, such as physical, emotional, and social risks.

Path dependency

New and unexpected risks

This so-called path dependency makes us less resilient to new and unexpected risks. Growing old is an excellent example of such a new, albeit hardly unexpected, challenge. Aging is something we all hope for and at the same time is totally unavoidable.

Of late some debate originated on how we perceive the new and unexpected risks. The most important observation is that we tend to avoid the confrontation with these risks. We also tend to burden others with the handling of these risks. We tend to avoid responsibility and stop all critical self-reflection: ‘New and unexpected? Please not in my backyard!’

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