On Getting Old

In the last ten, fifteen years I have read a number of books on getting old and found them informative and worth learning from. 

Now that I really am old I am still reading on the subject but less so since living in Champlain Towers.

I have met so many inspiring and interesting older people, learnt much from them and had many fascinating conversations. Consequently, I decided to write about the subject in the hope that we can get a discussion going and maybe encourage some contributors to add to the conversation. 

Here is a well known fact: 

Enjoyment of life and healthy aging go hand in hand. So both are important to strive for. And how do we do that? 

There are many things we need to be aware of and try to accomplish. Exercise, walking,  a good, possibly Mediterranean diet, watching your blood pressure, getting 7 to 8 hours sleep, pursuing interests and hobbies. Having social contacts, enjoying the company of friends and family, feeling a sense of importance or purpose. Trying to learn a new language, play an instrument or take a course.  Use your brain, memorize poems, write longhand (just for fun if you no longer write letters). Do different activities, not just one. Trying to avoid sadness and loneliness is important, although much more difficult. We might need help with that. 

With a longer life expectancy than previous generations it’s even more crucial to plan for what might be decades of retirement years.  Take up new causes, maybe volunteer somewhere or consider a second career. Become actively involved in the community, help your neighbours and try to get out as much as you can. Enjoy nature, explore your neighbourhood, listen to the birds, learn mindfulness meditation. Many of us find comfort in religion or discover spirituality. We seniors can still be important and appreciated members of society, can share our wisdom and skills to be useful to ourselves and others. 

The above suggestions are not necessarily easy to follow — they require self-discipline, determination, organization and diligence. We have to work at staying healthy and fit. It’s easy to fall into the trap of looking forward to retirement and days that are cozy, uneventful and relaxing. Maybe a lunch here and there, travel if we can afford it, reading the books we have always wanted to read and seeing more of our families. However, we might want more — to increase our sense of usefulness, be of value to the people around us and stay healthy in mind and body.

Getting old is hard work — or can be. And if it’s combined with serious health issues even more difficult.

But it’s challenging and exciting and can be an adventure. Be flexible and open to it. 

P.S. If I am talking to the converted, I apologize!