A sense of life satisfaction in old age is an important indicator of human mental health, which is evident in people's interest in life and desire to move on. Life satisfaction depends on many factors such as health, economic and marital status, positive functioning, and communication with people (Staudinger & Lindenberger 2003).
As part of the life satisfaction assessment, an interview was conducted with the author's neighbor, James Robbins, who is approaching his sixty-third birthday in June. He was born in 1953 in Oxnard, California, to a family of farmers, being the elder son of two children. His sister, 57-year-old Charlotte Robbins, is a nurse in the surgical center in which Mr. Robbins is one of the top surgeons.
When Mr. Robbins was 13 years old, his mother died on the operating table because of a doctor's mistake. This tragedy left deep scars in the life of his family and was a reason why Mr. Robbins and his sister decided to enter the Medical Faculty. They wanted to save the most precious thing people have - their lives.
Studying at the Medical University, James met Helen Lester who was a student of pediatric faculty. They married immediately after graduation from Medical University in 1981. Mr. and Mrs. Robbins have been happily married for more than 35 years, and they are still happy now. "I think I loved my wife from the very first moment I saw her. We had a wonderful time, whatever we were doing; the world was so much more interesting when we were together. Love and support from Helen, this is what gives me hope every day," says Mr. Robbins.
Mr. Robbins was absolutely sure that Helen was the one for him, and within a year of the wedding their daughter Rachel was born and then their second daughter Audrey. They both did not want to follow in their parents' footsteps when choosing a profession. Rachel graduated from the Faculty of Law, and her sister Audrey graduated from the Faculty of Economics. Rachel is a successful lawyer, and Audrey has not built a career, devoting herself to raising her sons, Tom and Michael. When the interviewer asked Mr. Robbins about his children, his eyes shone with joy. He said that it was not their grades that made him proud, but what do as people.
As discussed above, it was not difficult for Mr. Robbins to choose a profession. After his mother's death, 13-year-old James made a decision to be a heart surgeon to help people and save their lives. After graduating high school, he got a bachelor's degree at the Medical College. Afterwards, Robbins entered the Medical School which he graduated as a Doctor of Medicine. James completed a surgical residency program in cardiac surgery in 1981. Now, Mr. Robbins is a one of the most talented cardiac surgeons in the United States. He also attends meetings and workshops on surgery on a regular basis to improve his professional skills.
Mr. Robbins is optimistic about the aging processes. Of course, he has health problems such as high blood pressure, which is common in older people. Despite this fact, he considers that a positive attitude helps accept physical changes and enjoy the fact that he is physically fit. Being a doctor, he feels confident that the quality of his life and advances made in health care would save his health for a long time.
Financial status concerns every sane person, and Mr. Robbins is not an exception. Though, people of older age, do not worry about such things as buying a home and paying for college like young Americans do. Mr. Robbins does not exclude the possibility of not being able to pay medical bills in the event of an accident or serious illness, but he anticipates fewer life changes that would undermine his financial status.
Another difference between younger and older people is their position toward religion. James Robbins considers that older adults are much more likely to believe in God. Despite this, religious characteristics differ in many ways among older adults. Robbins says that religion is very important to him, and his religious beliefs influence his practice of medicine.
When the interviewer asked Mr. Robbins about friendships, he said: "When I and Helen were young we used to spent time and travel with our friends, we liked meeting and contacting with new amazing people. However, when you get older, your family becomes your closest friend. I am glad that we have really good relationships with our daughters, their husbands, and children. We can talk about anything and every time we meet we are happy."
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James remembers the time when he lost his mother; he had to help his father take care of his younger sister. This fact has strongly strengthened their family bonds. This prompted Mr. Robbins to build a family of unity and happiness and live healthy lives.
James Robbins and his wife Helen live full lives. However, challenges face the elderly in social, domestic, and psychological adaptation to the changed conditions. Regarding Mr. and Mrs. Robbins, their adult children care for their parents and assist them in their daily life.
Mr. Robbins said that, if he were to change something in his life, he would not be the same person he is now. James Robbins is happy with his life over the last 40 years. He thinks that all things were successful for him, and he would not want to fix anything. Robbins said that he can easily overcome any challenges by himself. However, it all comes from experiences. The most important thing for Mr. Robbins is that he is happy to live his life in his home with this family. It is all that matters to him.
In conclusion, the interview held with Mr. Robbins displays a successful aging of an older adult. It is demonstrated by his self-acceptance on the one hand, and engagement with life on the other. His thoughts about old age demonstrate wisdom, which is a prime contributor to successful aging.