“I hope that my elderly self appreciates this.”
by Jessica Hui, Stanford Student
During my time at the Stanford Center on Longevity, I became aware of the importance of three concepts: financial literacy, social engagement, and physical well-being. Of course, I already knew in the back of my mind that these concepts were important in my life, but I did not realize the extent of their importance. Because of my young age, they more represented abstract ideas or truisms parroted by my parents and teachers throughout the years.
My research…has ultimately led me to contemplate my blind attachment to the American Dream.
For example, financial literacy was a skill I assumed I would learn through mere experience, and without much effort. Indeed, the Center emphasized that financial stability, often a result of adequate financial literacy, was crucial for the elderly. However, through my research examining numerous academic and news articles, I realized that financial literacy is a skill that requires attention even at a young age. For the first time, I began to reflect on questions about buying a home in the future, savings, and credit scores, and I brought these questions home with me this Thanksgiving. I asked my mother about the mortgage, her retirement plans, and how her credit score dictates her ability to get loans. In addition, investing your money, or what I’d consider a more advanced level of financial literacy, was yet another concept that I started to ask my family and friends about. I always assumed that I would eventually have a family and live out some sort of version of the American Dream: buying a house, having a successful career and loving family, and eventually retiring with enough money to live comfortably. My research on financial stability among the elderly has ultimately led me to contemplate my blind attachment to the American Dream. Do I even want to buy a house and have a family? Do I even ever want to completely retire from my career?
Before I digress into a personal crises of existentialism, I also want to establish my changing views on the significance of social engagement and physical well-being through my lifetime. Though everyone needs time to appreciate the benefits of being alone, humans are inherently social animals. Being social keeps us mentally and emotionally happy. Though it’s not difficult to prompt a college student to hang out with her friends, it is a healthy reminder that I should continue to foster and maintain a network of friends after my undergraduate career at Stanford. I have seen firsthand the impact of loneliness on one’s mental, and even physical, health on my grandmother. Before she put in real effort to meet with friends on a regular basis and pursue a romantic relationship, she developed anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems. I am filled with joy to hear nowadays how happy she is with her life. In contrast, the lifestyle of a college student is often contradictory to physical well-being. In the context of healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, and alcohol consumption habits, younger people often feel that their youth allows them to ignore the importance of healthy living. My experience at the Center has showed me otherwise. I now make a deliberate effort to develop a healthy balance in my life, or else the repercussions will adversely affect my well-being many years afterwards.
They more represented abstract ideas or truisms parroted by my parents and teachers.
What I have learned about the Center so far has allowed me to transform abstract slogans that we mindlessly listen to, such as “Save your money,” “Don’t just sit in your room all day,” and “Eat healthily,” into real, personal mantras to live by everyday. I hope that my elderly self appreciates this.