Jeff has good things to say about aging. “I’m just getting better and better as I get older…I really am!” This is a sentiment Jeff expresses on a daily basis. There are many times when my own feelings about aging differ drastically from Jeff’s. There are also times when, I suspect, Jeff isn’t too wild about it either. But he never says so.And it seems to help us both to talk about the process optimistically. As I have observed Jeff and his journey through time over the twenty plus years I have known him, I have to say, Jeff is absolutely right. He is getting better. I don’t mean that Jeff is leaving his challenges behind, just that he has gained a comfort level about the world around him and the people in it that lets him enjoy life and be a productive part of the community. He is at once observant, caring, thoughtful, and truly appreciative of his relationships and the chance to spend time with others.
What is it about the aging process that has increased Jeff’s happiness? There are probably many reasons for the changes: a decrease in the flood of hormones that courses through the bodies of younger people? Maybe. Most of us do mellow with time. Another possible reason? Jeff has had the benefit of being in an environment where people understand him and have built a daily structure that works for him. Jeff trusts that staff members have his back, he understands the expectations placed on him, and he knows that Morgan Autism Center will continue to provide the stability he needs in the future.
Jeff is part of a community that is reliable and consistent and provides opportunities for engagement and relationship building. The truth of the matter is there are probably many reasons Jeff inhabits his world with a sense of ease. It is impossible to tease all the variables apart that might affect the quality of life for any individual. But I do know that having a sense of purpose, strong relationships and a sense of stability are contributing factors for any person. I just think it is remarkable that Morgan Autism Center can be the kind of place where people like Jeff can find those quality of life indicators for 40 years plus.