Who Inspires You?

Inspiration, Seniors

Written by Dr. Denise Casey

January 22, 2020

At 94, ‘he’ walks his black Labrador Retriever around the neighborhood stopping to greet and chat with neighbors. He drives his car to the store, and to the gym for his workout, and still takes care of the garden. For relaxation, he watches the Cubs on his big screen TV.

“He”, is my inspiration. “He”, is “Ken Heiden”.

Awesome senior, Ken Heiden

We start something because it feels good, it helps us cope or because we want to be better. As it becomes a habit and goes into our auto programming, it can go unchallenged for years.

In him, I see resilience, determination and discipline. After losing his wife of 67 years to Alzheimers, he faces life with courage engaging in the daily activities that have been part of his routine all his life. Why does this inspire me?

At 58 I sometimes ache, make excuses, and delay taking action. Watching this man in action causes me to reflect on the topic of habits. What habits do I engage in that will serve me well enough that, at 94, I will be able to bend over and pick up the dog bowl off the floor?

Although we may not always think of it, habits shape and drive our lives. It is said that “we are creatures of habit”. In studying the brain and hypnosis, I realize that our brain likes to put as much of ‘what we do’ on autopilot as possible.

Think about it. You don’t have to think about what hand you will use for your toothbrush or what shoe to put on first. Your brain has auto programmed that into a default mode. It does the same things with our habits and routines. This leaves the conscious mind to think about higher level things.

“Big Bob” Dhaens (89) sparring with personal trainer “Sgt. Dan” Laubach.

We start “doing” something because we like it, it “feels good”. The behavior helps us cope or because we want to be, or feel, better. As it becomes a habit and goes into our auto programming, it can go unchallenged for years. It just becomes something we do.

For example, I used to be a die hard Cappuccino fan. I loved them. The habit developed and I was drinking it every day, rain, snow or slush. People began to recognize how much I loved coffee and would give me gift cards and this behavior became part of my identity.

Thankfully, I have quit my share of bad habits. A few years ago I realized a psychology that worked for me, rather than quitting something, I would start something new. So with the Cappuccino, rather than quit, I switched to tea. For a week it was a conscious decision, but then it went on autopilot and now it is just something I do. So many of my habits have changed just by starting something new. New habits will crowd out old ones.

I am inspired by many other seniors in my life. Regardless of age, they step into new territory and with persistence they form a new routine. It is the same sense of resilience, determination and discipline.

These qualities have an 89 year old man boxing with a personal trainer, a 90 year old woman who has taken up ballroom dancing and a 65+ widowed senior who has reinvented herself by getting involved in her community and taking a job at a local restaurant.

Watching the actions of these individuals impresses upon me the need to develop healthy habits.

What if our condition in old age is the culmination of all our habits? Take inventory and evaluate what habits will benefit you as you age and which ones may cripple you.

Then, try something new!

If you are, or someone you know is, stuck or struggling to change some habits, we would love to help you find your path!

Contact us at Barrington Behavioral Health and Wellness.

Phone: 1-888-261-2178
Email: help@barringtonbhw.com

Dr. Denise Casey, Psy.D.


Dr. Denise Casey is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a Certification in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling and a National Board Certification in Clinical Hypnosis. She is also Certified in Cognitive Therapy and has studied addictions and hypnosis at advanced levels.

Her general experience in working with young adults to seniors has equipped her to deal with a wide variety of issues. Dr. Casey is highly skilled, deeply compassionate, and presents a very casual and caring atmosphere.

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