How to Age Well One Day at a Time
Mom's 100th Birthday Celebration
Keep laughter in your life
When my mother celebrated her 103rd birthday, a reporter asked her how it felt to be 103. Her answer was truthful but not what he expected. She replied, "About like it did to be 102."
My mother spent the last ten days of her life in bed as her cells literally wore out—and by then she was half past 105. The night before she died, she asked my eldest son if she was dying. He commented to me, "Dad, my heart sank down to my ankles and I thought to reply, 'Not today, Grammy, not today.'"
Our family has a love for words, and that is good company for a love for puns and good humor. Reading and writing are no strangers in our extended family. The result is that our family stays connected, and humor is shared and appreciated. We would all agree that "laughter is the best medicine."
George Burns, famous for his humor in film, on radio, and TV, along with his wife Gracie. was asked after Gracie passed away about why he seemed to only take beautiful, young women to special events. He is said to have replied, "There are no women my age!"
Bob Hope, whose credits were every bit as famous as Burns's, quipped, "You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake!"
And Jack Benny, whose credits match or exceed Burns's and Hope's, commented, "Age is simply a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."
You don't have to be young to laugh!
Keep Socially Active
You are not likely to age joyously, if the only names in your address book and contacts list have the initials M.D. after them.
Seniors actually have a lot of fun, and our discounts are not limited to those arranged by AARP.
Not all communities have the advantages of life in Utah, but many do. Allow me to describe some of them. It should be said that while Utah has the youngest median age of any state in the United States, it is simply because our young people still like having large families and believe that families are the keystone of any society.
We have "senior center" facilities in all our neighboring cities and towns with full schedules of events including not only bingo games, but libraries, exercise equipment, nutritious meals, card games, dances, health screenings, pot luck suppers, movies, and other special speakers and events specifically geared to our interests and concerns.
Where such wonderful facilities are not available, churches and other social groups fill the gaps. Local supermarkets participate by donating food items. For those with limited incomes, food pantries and community services are available with not only food, but legal assistance, financial counseling including tax preparation,, health screenings, and eye exams.
While many churches help with such services, there are also community centered programs for all age groups, including outreach to seniors, shut-ins, and those in need.
There are federal programs, too. They are almost too many to name, but one in particular comes to mind. Staffed by administrators and compensated volunteers the Senior Companion Program provides volunteers who will take seniors to their medical appointments, provide caregivers with a substitute to allow them to have a break to meet their own needs, if for nothing more than to get out of the house for awhile, as well as to take seniors out for a meal, go bowling, get back and forth to daycare programs, read and write their letters and cards, assist them with shopping, etc.
This and other programs for seniors are very often listed with full information for seniors in locally published directories with details and contact information.
Senior centers and churches are great social centers
Stay Physically Active
One nice program for seniors is offered by some supplemental health plans and is called "Silver Sneakers". This particular program gives access to local recreation centers and fitness centers often including indoor swimming with water aerobics, exercise rooms and equipment, steam rooms, hot tubs, special events, and games such as the newly popular "pickle ball". Special exercise classes are offered for seniors from the more intense Zumba classes to Chair Exercises. Best of all, that access is provided at no added cost in such plans.
Gardening is a popular senior hobby that can range from planter boxes and landscaping, to full sized gardens and orchards from which fortunate and physically able seniors can derive the benefits not only of having some of their own fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers, but also the exercise from gardening that their physical limitations can still allow.
Walking is underestimated by many seniors for the true health and longevity benefits a short daily walk can provide, especially if it can be done with a pet dog, a neighbor, or another family member or friend.
Walking in a mall or outdoors is life-extending
Keep Mentally Active
While keeping socially active is definitely helpful to keeping mentally active, there are other things we can all do to be mentally active.
Crossword puzzles are frequently mentioned because one person can keep mentally sharp by including them as a quiet activity. Television, in moderation, is another less-active activity, and similarly using a computer to access the world's knowledge and communicate with loved ones and friends is beneficial.
I enjoy a game of solitaire that is simple but involves alertness. The game is played by one person using a deck of cards without the jokers and is played this way: the deck is first shuffled, and then one by one cards a laid down face up. Cards are removed from the table when a total of three cards taken from one or both ends of the displayed cards total either 10, 20, or 30 points with just those three cards. (The 10, J, Q, K counting ten each, and Aces counting as just one.) The objective is to remove all the cards in such groups of three, leaving only 1 to 4 cards whose total is 10, 20, or 30. Doing so constitutes a "perfect" game, while seven or less cards left is "very good" and seven to eleven cards left is "passable". If 11 or more cards are left, you will want to go through the remaining cards once more one by one to see if you may have missed some three card combinations which will improve your score.
The point is to do fun things which keep your mind active, be it a hobby, a good book, a new or favorite film, labeling old photographs, etc.
Reading is a wonderful mental exercise
Eat for Nutrition and Drink Enough Water
As we age our appetite often decreases, but our bodies still need good nutritious foods in amounts adequate to meet the body's continuing needs.
What signals our bodies give us in this regard can be confusing. Quite often, even in our younger years, a signal saying "I'm hungry, eat something" is actually a signal that the body is thirsty. We can resolve the confusion by first drinking some water. If the signal persists, then it's time for a nutritious snack or a meal.
Keeping water handy and sipping through the day will insure that the body is kept properly hydrated and able to flush toxins from the body and serve the body's many other needs for hydration.
Nutrition, hydration, and sharing meals with others
Don't Deny Others Their Chance To Be Helpful
Stress can be a killer, and even minor stresses contribute to needlessly aging more quickly than is necessary.
Our ability to handle some tasks, for example shoveling snow, or raking leaves, is more limited as we age. We would like to be able to tackle those tasks just as we always did when we were younger. Be a realist and don't be shy about asking for help when it is needed. Family, neighbors, friends, local youth such as a local Boy Scout troop or church youth group can be more than willing to help. But in their own efforts to not invade your privacy they may hesitate to ask for chances to be helpful.
What is the worst thing that could happen? One or more possible helpers might say "No."
The positive side is, when help is needed and the request is legitimate, more often than not someone you politely ask for help will smile and say, "Sure."
Don't sit silently yearning for some needed help. If you can muster the courage to admit that you could use some help, someone can muster the courage to agree to be a helper.
Use your resources to avoid unnecessary stress. Be thankful for those who will reach out to you. The bigger projects need bigger groups to solve them, but there are many little stresses in life for which a helping hand can make a grey day great. Just reach out, and then say "Thanks."
Helping others benefits you, too!
Who do you know?
Who do you know who could benefit from considering these rules?
© 2017 Demas W Jasper