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Maslow's Hierarchy

Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis

Do you remember studying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? The base of the triangle (the first level of basic needs of life) was physiological needs: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, and excretion. As the fulfillment of those needs is accomplished, the triangle narrows through levels of safety, love and belonging, and esteem. Finally, the pinnacle of the triangle is self-actualization, including morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance. I had this sudden realization that this model could be seriously threatened if the basic needs of food, water, safety, family, and belonging, were lost as we age. Even for the person who had accomplished the highest level of development during their lifetime, self-actualization could be compromised in later life. It’s no wonder we see that the basics of life must be supported for healthy living in later years.

I know that I sound like a broken record (That expression must be lost on young folks!), but my daily experience with seniors and their families bears out this theory. It is the lowest rung of the ladder that begins to threaten a vigorous lifestyle. The Golden Years may begin to tarnish when simple things like a healthy meal, a good night’s rest, safety, and socialization are compromised. We seem to be fixated on modern medicine to keep the wheels on the bus; perhaps another prescription will get us back to our former selves. Actually, the solution might be much more straightforward. Since isolation and lack of socialization are the primary health threats for older adults living alone, then being a part of a community provides the basics! A great meal (or just a cup of coffee) shared with a friend, a card game, or a lively conversation with peers may be the best medicine of all. The challenge we face is finding a place where we can thrive at every level of the hierarchy all the days of our life.

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