Strategies As You Get Older: Healthy Senior Living

If you're lucky, you get to be old. Sometimes that doesn't seem like much of a reward, but it can be with the right attitude.

For the record, I don't feel old. I'm in my 60s. I'm active. I have friends. I keep mentally alert by reading and writing...and figuring out how to outwit my border collie. The only time the age factor creeps in is when I get sick or injured. I don't bounce back like I used to.

If you're smart, every single one of you right now is saving furiously for retirement. If you're dismissive because it sounds like old news, think again. It's a dire warning. I have had several people tell me that they will never retire. They will have to work the rest of their lives. I find that so incredibly sad.

Retirement is the reward for 40+ years of working. It's a great reward! I'm still busy, but this time I'm busy doing the things I love to do.

Still, there's more to getting old than just a good nest egg. Here are the things I think insures a great senior life.

• Keep up with your health. That sounds like tired advice, but it's dead on. Diabetes, lung cancer, skin cancer, high blood pressure. That stuff will kill ya! Yet most of it is preventable.

• Exercise. Even if it's nothing more than walking a mile a day, it stimulates all kinds of good stuff in your body. Walking, yoga, bicycling, even simple stretches will help immensely.

• Stay social. And I don't mean on Facebook. Interact with flesh and blood people. Invite friends to dinner, attend a show together, go bowling or fishing. Whether you interact one on one or in a group, it's healthy to have a strong social group. There's something about having friends that keeps us grounded and keeps us from isolating ourselves too much.

• Volunteer. If you have no real friends close by, consider volunteering. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment and worth, it forces you to interact with others and possibly form friendships that way.

• Put yourself in a positive state of mind. Whenever I find myself feeling down in the dumps, I garden, paint, or walk around my property. These are the things that lift me up. What lifts you up?

If you can't walk, wheel yourself down to the local arboretum. If you feel lonely or purposeless, remember the tip about volunteering. You are needed. All you have to do is show up.

I know two people who are night and day. One friend is in her mid 70s and even gives me a run for my money! I want to be her when I grow up. Another person I know is a gloomy grump. She complains about everything, then complains that she has no friends. Is it any wonder? One person chose to see the bright side of life. The other won't open the shades.

• Go back to work. Hopefully, by the time you reach retirement age you won't have to work, but there's no reason not to go back part time if you enjoy working.

• Start a journal or write a book. As we get older we forget more easily. Now is the time to start recording your thoughts and dreams. What might seem a curious habit to some could hold valuable and cherished memories to others. So write away. You might not be the next JK Rowling, but a slice of your life could be gold to future generations.

What else would you suggest for aging well?


Great reminders, Maria. As I type this, I am STANDING at my desk - every little bit helps! I'm also working on the weight. When I was younger, losing weight was more about looking good, but the older I get, the more it becomes about feeling good. :)
Stacy McKitrick said…
What else? Travel!!! Whether you plan a cruise or a weekend getaway (and if retired, a weekday getaway--less people to tend with), it gives you something to look forward to. And it's fun to do, too!
Maria Zannini said…
Madeline: I really like those new devices that raise or lower your laptop at your desk. When I was working they didn't exist yet and I was always piling books and binders so I could raise my laptop and stand at my desk.
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: True! We are tied down by animals, but I long for the day we can get away.
Angela Brown said…
In a sense, I'm having to start all over, for like the second time lol! So I truly understand what you mean by the importance of saving in preparation for reaching my golden years. I honestly DO want to retire and enjoy my time doing the things I want to do, not always doing things I have to do because of all of the responsibilities I have as a single mom.

To that end, I am building up a walking regimen so that I get in 30 minutes of walking a day. I'm one of those high blood pressure folks you mentioned.

And I pray that I can be like your friend wih the sunny disposition.
Maria Zannini said…
Angela: I'm very introspective and quiet, but I have a glass full mentality so even if I'm not bubbly, I'm always upbeat. My friend is animated and talkative but we both have the same outlook. I think that's why we became such fast friends. Like seeks like.

You're very much like me--cerebral and low key but still optimistic.
mike Keyton said…
I love this age. At the same time, I'm always aware of time. I wake up with a brief prayer - 'please let me do something good today' - it can be anything, a smile or two pages of writing, but the day won't come back again. When you realise how precious the day is you know you have no right to be unhappy. Grumpy, yes. But that's a different story :)
Maria Zannini said…
re: ...but the day won’t come back again.
That's one of the most profound things I've read in a long time. Like you, I'm very aware of time. For some reason it's been especially heavy on my mind of late.