Growing older is akin to entering uncharted territory: the landscape of your own body can begin to feel foreign, and the way you relate to certain aspects of life also shifts. In the book (and related blog) 70 Candles, authors Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole talk about finding ways to appreciate and accept the challenges that come with each new birthday—and what it takes for us to continue to flourish as human beings as we age.
Inspired by the desire to live well into old age, 70 Candles shares stories of amazing women doing incredible things: whether it’s confessing to being depressed after an injury, feeling scared about getting older, or expressing gratitude for another candle on their birthday cake, the women of this community are courageous, authentic, and compassionate.
Thriving at 70 and Beyond
What does it take to thrive into, and beyond, the eighth decade of our lives? That’s the underlying question of 70 Candles. But, Jane and Ellen also aren’t afraid to dig into difficult, and often hushed, topics such as ageism, the obstacles of injury and illness, and how to manage relationships throughout this period of life.
The blog’s inherent worth comes from this: a willingness to share genuine fears and struggles within a safe and supportive space. The authors shine a light on a demographic that all too often gets brushed aside. Armed with a positive attitude toward aging, and a willingness to talk about all issues surrounding getting older, they’ve created a community that brings together later-in-life women—and invites them to speak openly about the ups and downs of aging in today’s world.
Sparking Compassionate Conversation About Aging
A dedicated and respectful online space for women sixty and up, the 70 Candles ongoing blog features personal stories, as well as a space to ask questions about age-related issues. Many of the posts are quite vulnerable, offering readers of any age pertinent insight into the daily challenges and triumphs that getting older can bring. The blog is unique because it invites women from all over the world to share their own special stories about aging. Plus, readers can comment on posts to offer one another words of wisdom and support from afar.
The book has also been cultivating a community by encouraging readers to organize in-person meetups across the country. During these events, older adults and interested community members gather to chat about situations and issues discussed in the book, on the blog, or from their own experiences. Jane and Ellen were motivated to develop the blog into a book form after receiving a wealth of positive feedback about the blog and amassing countless stories that deserved, and needed, to be shared.
A Helpful Resource for Caregivers and Loved Ones Alike
Featured on positive-aging websites like Huffington Post and the New York Times, 70 Candles is an equally helpful resource for both caregivers and loved ones. Chances are that something inside the book’s poignant pages will jog your loved one’s memory about a situation or feeling they are experiencing—and make it easier to talk about.
For example, one woman (Nancy, age 69) wrote a post about being on the cusp of finishing a graduate degree—and ready to dive into a new job in counseling—when she slipped and broke her leg. On the blog, she voiced her frustration and feelings of aloneness from being without a partner or family. Readers of the blog, in return, offered her comments filled with compassion and support. Other posters talked about their own challenges of being unexpectedly held up by an injury, or fears of being financially unstable.
Seeing these posts can help other older adults gain the courage to speak up about their own frustrations or challenges—as well as their successes and triumphs. Best of all, this supportive online community can be easily accessed by anyone with a computer and internet connection. You can start to get involved by visiting the 70 Candles blog with your own aging loved one to see what conversations begin to flow. And, if your loved one wants to contribute her own story to 70 Candles, just reach out to the wonderful Jane and Ellen at 70Candles@gmail.com.
Jane and Ellen started 70 Candles not only to offer a voice for aging adults, but with the desire to provide a sort of guidebook on aging to younger generations—something their generation never had. Having older adults to look up to and learn from can be incredibly valuable, not simply as role models for life, but to encourage empathy and compassion for aging adults. In providing a space for older women to speak their mind, 70 Candles reminds us all of the immense beauty to be found in the natural process of aging.
If you want to better support your aging loved one, Institute on Aging provides a wide range of programs, services, and online resources to help. Connect with us today to learn more.