Your next 10 years will be full of new experiences, new appreciations - if you allow them into your life. It is only those under age 60 who see the years after 60 as 'all about losses'. If you allow their images to capture your mind, you will not find your elder years full of adventure, full of learning or new meaning.
But you can develop as many new skills and new attitudes now as you ever did. I thought of this as a result of 2011 winter storms. Suddenly some of us living in the snow belt found we could no longer clear so much snow. Some people name this as a 'loss' but to others it as an opportunity to learn
something new - how to be grateful to neighbors or how to hire someone to do snow work. (Finding someone reliable,
not too costly etc. - new for many of us)
Such things are as much a 'new learning' as the high school student learning new study habits because their old, familiar ones are not working or an adult who learns new skills because
their old ones are not needed on the job anymore.
Seeing our lives as opportunities for new learning, can take a bit of effort - going against the tide of media which only talks about losses in aging. But seeing our limitations
as opportunities for learning and growth will enhance our self esteem AND will provide a legacy for those coming after. If
we make the transition of treating problems as opportunities for us as we age - this new way of looking at growing older will 'become part of the culture'. People will begin to realize that ALL our years can be years of learning and growth.
REFLECTION AND REQUEST: if you have been reading this newsletter for awhile, you have met the idea that our elder years are years of new growth before. Do you think this is true? Can you help me out? If you have any thoughts you are willing to share, know that I would be glad to read them.
And I thank you in advance. (Just hit reply if you want to contact me on this or any subject.)
2. Fragility - One of the great challenges for men and woman after age 60 is 'fragility'. It often starts with being
unable to lift heavy packages or walk up several flights of stairs. If we allow fragility to advance, it will put
us in a nursing home or needing 'assisted care'. But scientific studies show that even advanced fragility can be reversed.
The remedy is "strength training' or 'weight lifting'. Even those well past 80 can regain muscle mass and strength with modest weight lifting or strength training.
But many people have neither the time or the inclination
to lift weights. Two solutions - wear a weight vest during the day -one that allows you to add weights in small increments.
(There is a page on the site about a vest that allows you to add as little as 2 ounces at a time so you experience the benefits of 'added effort' for a longer period of time.)
AND there is another approach. I recently read (and am using) a book called 'The 90sec. Fitness Solution" that uses two
postures...for 90 seconds each on 5 days of the week. The data shows that they give the full benefit of weight lifting...without weights or going to the gym to work out. And only taking 15 minutes a week (3 minutes a day for 5 days). I was dubious but after trying it, found it amazing. I put a review in the book section of the web site for those who might be interested. It is under FITNESS on the book review page.
3. PETS. There have been dozen of studies showing the benefits of pets....especially for those living alone. One problem is that some senior housing does not allow pets. One solution. Go to your local humane society and offer to walk a dog or hold a cat once or twice a week. Animals that have regular human contact are much more adoptable. You will be doing the animals a favor AND they will reciprocate.
If you are like most elders your blood pressure will improve, you will be more relaxed and even more content. And if you live alone, you will reap even greater benefits for mind and body. There is so much research on this that it would take too much space to list it all. So, try it. You'll like it....as will the animals.
4. LAST TOPIC. The social contribution of elders. We live in a society with little direct, personal interaction. Teens are more comfortable with twitter than they are talking to someone in front of them. Adults are so busy.
An important roles of elders is to be the 'personal communication glue' in society. Next time you are out, take a look around. Many elders DO speak with cashiers, grocery baggers, bus drivers, postal workers, cafeteria servers, cleaners etc.
We say, 'hello' and 'Thank you" and 'nice job'. Such small verbal interactions make a real difference in the daily life
of service workers. And if we, the old, do not do this, most service workers become 'human automatons' since they have
no verbal human contact with those they serve.
Think about it. Many adults avoid interaction. They use ATM machines rather than step into the bank and interact with a teller. They make no eye contact much less exchange words with grocery or cafeteria workers. Adults are often so taken up with their own issues that they simply do not notice the human beings serving their needs. (Research shows that 'being ignored' is devastating to people) but there is a whole class of workers who are routinely ignored each and every day. This is where we come in.....
As people age, they seem freer to acknowledge and pass the time of day - even with strangers. Such incidental communication is of real importance to a humane society. It IS 'humanizing' to
do this. Please consider taking on the important role of making daily life more social, more humanizing by acknowledging those in the service sector. AND you may find that such interactions leaves you feeling happier, a real contributor to society.
All it takes is a few words...a thank you ...a compliment on a job well done.... I could cite research studies showing that
such incidental human interaction has both physical and mental health benefits but the 'proof will be in the pudding'. If
you are NOT doing this sort of thing already, try it this week. A few words, a facial gesture.....
It is an important social task and one which we elders can do.
That is it for February. If you have a topic you'd like me to cover in future newsletters, just hit 'reply' and let me
know. I want to make this newsletter something that you look forward to....
Thanks for reading,