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Nine Essentials for Successful Aging

Proposed by Bromme Hampton Cole

Who Is Bromme Hampton Cole?

Bromme Hampton Cole is one of the premier thinkers about the coming era of the aging experience. He is fortunate to be based in Shanghai, China where he has a chance to observe aging in China with an acute perceptivity.

China is relatively tabula rasa when it comes to aging, so Bromme has been able to think beyond the constraints of conventional thinking which affect aging concepts in America and Europe.

You’ll recall that China has had a “one child” policy. Traditionally, China was a culture in which the children were expected to care for their elderly parents. That is now in flux because it can be a tremendous burden for the “one child” to care for both parents or, beyond that, for four sets of grandparents.

Moreover, as China evolves into a Middle Class society, more and more young couples have both partners working at demanding jobs that leave them little time or energy to care for their aging forebears. The result is a developing aging services industry with children happy to pay to help house their “ancestors” in style and with the children having the affluence to be able to do so.

A child in China with aging parents or grandparents can feel that the duty to revere and sustain the elderly has been fulfilled if they can provide for the elderly in a way that even those who are aging agree is more dignified than the life they would have living in a room or apartment in the home of their offspring.

Thus, China is undergoing a fundamental cultural change in the national approach to aging and Americans can learn from some of the principles that are beginning to emerge as that cultural change slowly takes shape.

Bromme Hampton Cole, as an American-born, astute observer of aging with especial concentration on China, has devised a “Social Engagement Theory for Chinese Ageing,” from which we, too, in America can draw wisdom. Mr. Cole’s books are available for sale from Amazon and are featured among the member services.

Social Engagement Theory for

Chinese Ageing

In the referenced book, Mr. Cole further develops the Nine Essentials into a Theory of Social Engagement which he then applies to individual case studies to deepen understanding of what can be done to ameliorate more effectively the challenges and transitions of aging.

For instance, a neglected woman aging with Dementia is seen to have Healthy Body but have lost Self-Respect and Dignity and to lack all of the remaining seven Essentials.

Nine Essential Relationships


1. Healthy Mind and Spirituality – Productive use of one’s mind each day and an appreciation for one’s inner dimension and place in great nature.

2. Healthy Body – Consumption of nourishing food and moderate exercise combined with sufficient health care.

3. Happy Heart and Love – Peace, self-contentment and intimacy.

4. Independence and Courage – Maintain autonomy and self-reliance; the ability or willingness to confront uncertainty.

5. Self-Respect and Dignity – Belief in one’s purpose and one’s value.

6. Sufficient Wealth – Thrift in all financial matters.


7. Strong Family Bonds – Foundation of life; all extended family beyond spouse or child.

8. Reliable Friendships – Trustworthy peers with whom to share life’s joys and assist with its challenges.

9. Productive Engagement and Community Support – Volunteering and contributions to civic endeavors as well as public reverence of the elderly.

Source: Bromme Hampton Cole, Dragon with a Cane: Profiles in Ageing: China's Forgotten Generation, p. 31.

Social Engagement Theory for

Chinese Ageing Applied

Mr. Cole posits five corrolaries resulting from his study of the Nine Essentials.

1.  Elderly people can subsist on as few as three Essential Relationships.

2.  The Negative Transition of two or more Essential Relationships is difficult to endure.

3.  The Positive Transition of one or more Essential Relationships is life extending.

4.  An abundance of Essential Relationships (6 or more) offers a greater social platform to endure the loss of Essential Relationships.

5.  Clinical intervention of adaptive behavior may compensate for the Negative Transition of an Essential Relationship.

Conclusion:  Mr. Cole has provided a simple framework by which we can assess our own well-being and that of those in our care or whom we love.  Such an assessment can steer adjustments that can be life affirming.