Grow Old: Feel Good Doing It
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”—Henry Ford
Despite her 74 years, Eleanor looked surprisingly young and fresh.
What was Eleanor’s secret to staying “young?”
“First of all, I think, to stay young, you need a goal in life. I already had mine in my teens. But I didn’t realize then that my aims would change, that I wouldn’t find my real passion for over 40 years.
“But in my teens, I was fascinated with fashion. My goal, I decided then, was to design beautiful clothes for women.
“After completing school, I worked as an assistant to a fashion designer and was permitted to accompany my mentor on my first trip to Paris, where you find the most fabulous designer fashions in the world.
“I couldn’t believe it!
“I was 21 years old.
“But youth is fleeting. As health fails and circumstances for you slow down, you begin to long for the ‘good old days all too soon!
“You remember the days when you could still read without glasses. You could eat without struggling with slipping dentures and not be plagued with an aching back or fallen arches and could remember things without having to write them down, instead of, as is now the case, forgetting to read what you’ve written down to remember.
“What teenager can know the grief of losing a marriage mate of several decades or the loneliness that comes with the loss of this devoted companionship?
“Yet as problematic as old age can be, it does have its advantages. Years of experience have improved my discernment and insight into people’s problems.
“I think of the knowledge I have accumulated. I have become wiser, am probably better balanced, and for sure I have a deeper appreciation of life.”
Listening to Eleanor, perhaps you imagine how wonderful it would be if it were possible to enjoy the best of both worlds—the physical vigor of youth along with the wisdom and other benefits of age!
But even though you may be unable to prolong your life, at least you may be able to lengthen your youth.
Think Young and Think Happy
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”—George Burns
Five Tips to keep up-to-date:
- Subscribe to traditional news sources using your mobile phone. Download free on iOS or Android: CNN, BBC, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The New York Times, and others.
- Listen to podcasts if you’d rather listen to the news than read. There are many podcasts available, no matter your interests.
- Use social media to stay informed: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Attend conferences to learn what is going on in your field of interest.
- Use email, meeting in person, and video conferencing like Zoom.
Do not limit your association with others to people your age. Associate with young people, too.
Some of the enthusiasm of younger people will rub off on you.
Replace thoughts about “dying with dignity” with more positive ones of “living with a purpose.”
A happy and contented spirit can go a long way in reactivating an unhappy and unfulfilled body.
Think pleasant thoughts and associate with positive people.
Focus on helping others.
Read a story to a child.
Watch more comedy shows.
In the seas of life, “cheerfulness,” as a 100-year-old expressed, “is our life preserver.”
Keep Physically Active
“Age isn’t how old you are but how old you feel.”—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Engage in physical activity regularly in moderation, which is essential to strengthening the heart and lungs.
Regular exercise also keeps you trim and prevents muscles from sagging.
Whatever your preference, it will aid you in staying physically active.
- Stationary running
- Brisk walking
- Climbing stairs
- Jumping rope
- Volleyball, basketball
- Table tennis
*Warning: have a health checkup before embarking on any exercise program, and follow the doctor’s advice.
Physical exercise often makes the difference between enjoying life at seventy and being afflicted with aches, pains, and boredom at the same age.
No matter what your age, you can improve your health by exercising.
Be like the man who, when told he should start slowing down, replied, with a tinge of defiance in his voice: “No way. As long as I can keep moving, they’ll never be able to bury me!”
Keep Mentally Active
“Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.”—John Adams
Even as the body deteriorates when not used, so also does the mind.
Enrich your life by increasing your knowledge.
Learn new things.
“According to the Alzheimer Association, mental stimulation is important for brain health. Continuing to learn new skills, working crossword puzzles or math games and increasing social interaction are great ways to keep your mind active. Stay curious and involved in lifelong learning.”
8 Ways to Keep Your Mind Sharp
- Learn a foreign language.
- Try a new activity.
- Eat brain-boosting foods.
- Get some sleep.
- Stay on top of your health conditions.
Watch Eating and Drinking Habits
“Youthfulness is about how you live not when you were born.”—Karl Lagerfeld
There are many scholarly articles on longevity and diet on the web.
Some foods promoted as anti-aging foods due to their ani-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids—such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel decreases the risk of cognitive decline.
Research indicates that vitamin E is especially effective in slowing the aging process.
“Most people get enough vitamin E from a balanced diet. If you’re diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, some research suggests that vitamin E therapy might slow disease progression. However, there are risks and side effects to vitamin E.”
Bottom line: see your doctor for advice on vitamin supplements.
Unlike smoking, which is detrimental to health even when done in moderation, alcoholic beverages are generally harmful only when indulged in excess.
Consider this logical advice: “Remember, if you drink less, you will live longer. And if you live longer, you will be able to drink more.”
Remain as Independent as Possible
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that counts. It’s the life in your years.”—Abraham Lincoln
Do not let younger people, even if well-meaning, set you back to the days of childhood by being overly protective and condescending in their dealings with you.
If you can still live alone, do so.
If you can still do your cooking, do so.
If you still mow your own lawn and wash your own car, do so.
If, on the other hand, you have become feeble in either body or mind and need help, accept help, doing so graciously and with gratitude.
Let people help you according to need, not according to age.
This way, you will maintain your self-respect and have no reason to feel guilty about unduly imposing upon others.
Do Not Live in the Past
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift; that’s why we call it the present!”—An adage
Treasured memories are fine.
It’s beautiful to think fondly of the past.
But are you fearful of the future?
Keeping too many physical ties with the past, like old letters and pictures, or spending too much time reminiscing, can make you sad and melancholy.
Rather than living in the past, come to grips with the present while at the same time making plans for the future.
Think about what you currently have in life for which you are grateful.
Let go of those things in life over which you have no control and feel the weight lift off your shoulders.
When you decide what you would like to do tomorrow or next week, you will have something for which to live.
Memories from the past are not bad, but there’s a difference between thinking about history and living in it.
We cannot know what will happen in the future, but for today, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”
And refuse to live in the past.
Accept the Obvious
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”—Mark Twain
No, you are not as young as you used to be. But, then, who is?
Do you feel you must keep up with others half your age?
There is no reason to “prove” you are still young when it is pretty evident that you are not.
Grow older gracefully, with no apologies.
Never cease being grateful for the opportunity you have had to grow old.
Millions of young persons have had their lives snuffed out prematurely and never had the chance.
Do not be like the young man who complains that he must when he gets up in the morning, be like the old man who rejoices that he still can.
Yes, Grow Old and Feel Good Doing it!
Please don’t’ wallow in self-pity.
After all, “Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine.”—Joan Collins
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article.
I hope you now have a more positive outlook on aging.
Because you read this article:
- You have discovered that youth is fleeting—but so what?
- You now understand that, though problematic, old age does have its advantages, such as wisdom and discernment and a deeper appreciation for life.
- You have evidence that growing old is not just a matter of the body; it is also a matter of the mind, and of attitudes.
- You know why it’s essential to keep up to date.
- You now recognize the value of “living with a purpose”; finding joy in little things.
- You now value the benefits of keeping physically and mentally active.
- You know how and why to watch your eating and drinking habits.
- You are now determined to remain as independent as possible.
- You will no longer live in the past but look forward to the future confidently.
Because you read this article, you are no longer afraid of aging!
You accept that you are not as young as you used to be but are determined to grow old gracefully.
And because you read this article, you will always feel grateful that you have lived a long life.
Starting today, you will embrace aging and feel good as you grow older.
Today, dear reader, I feel sure you agree with this quote:
“It is not how old you are, but how you are old.”—Jules Renard
That being the case, go out there and live your life to the fullest with joy and passion!
Do not be afraid of aging!
“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”—Henry David Thoreau