BY NORBERT RUG
I have decided to age gracefully. Sure I have a few health problems, I need hearing aids to hear, glasses to see, I use a cane to walk, I have Peripheral Neuropathy and cancer. But these are just potholes in the road of my life. We have all dealt with our own personal potholes. Aging gracefully to me means continually reinventing myself as I pass through landmark ages like my 60s, 70s and hopefully my 80s.
Aging gracefully to me means finding out new things that I enjoy, learning to adapt to change, learning a new skill, staying socially and physically active, and feel I am connected to my community and loved ones. It wasn’t until my 60s that I discovered my love for writing. This helps me feel connected. I can still drive (although my wife frowns on it), work on my computers, go to dinner or do Sudoku puzzles. I feel keeping my brain alive helps keep me younger.
Today I’m 71 years old, to some of you I might be too old for some things and I probably am. I don’t think I will do any skydiving or race car driving soon and Papa doesn’t do running. I always tell Donna that I have a twenty-five-year-old mind inside a seventy-one-year-old body. The truth is I don’t care very much about age.
I am going to celebrate this day because I’m alive and that is the most important thing. “Upright and taking nourishment” is what I tell people. Being alive to me means that I can still have another chance to do what I love and to be happy. Age does not control my feelings, I am the one who is in charge and I know that my happiness is something that nothing or no one can control unless I let them.
I’m doing what I want, what I love and I will always do so for as long as I can despite my age, My age means absolutely nothing to me. My dreams, my love for life and goals are what keep me alive, and even if one day I reach 100 years old, I will be just as alive as I am right now. Age will only matter to me the day I stop learning and enjoying life. This will be the day where I may as well be dead.
The important thing in our lives is to understand that our age is not what matters. What matters the most in our lives is our attitude, commitment, and perseverance. Donna calls my perseverance stubbornness but I am not about to argue word verbiage with her. Of course, our age signifies the passage of time, so we may have more problems as we age. The key to living our lives to the fullest is doing what we decide is important. If we believe that everything is possible then maybe it is. We should never let age interfere with what we want to do.
Unfortunately, for many of us, aging also brings anxiety about taking care of ourselves later in life. We think about losing our spouse, about dementia and Alzheimer’s. Many of these fears often stem from popular culture, Television shows or movies but I have yet to yell at the neighborhood kids to “Get off my lawn” like Clint Eastwood in the movie Gran Torino.
Let’s give less importance to our age and more to our mind and attitude. We cannot achieve things and live a happier life if we don’t believe in ourselves. Remember that age is just a number so don’t let it control your life. Old age just means that you are still alive and you can keep being happy, dreaming, enjoying life, having fun, laughing, smiling and living your life to the fullest!
Coping with change is problematic, no matter what age you are. The specific challenge for aging adults is a large number of changes that start to occur. These might include children or grandchildren moving away and not visiting as often. I have grandchildren that live, work and attend school out of town.
Changes might be the loss of parents, friends, and other loved ones. I have lost both of my parents and a couple of friends over the years. Retiring might also be one of the changes you experience along with declining health and even the loss of independence. It is very natural to suffer these losses. But if you balance these things with positive things, you just might have the formula for aging gracefully. There are many fallacies about aging. The fact of the matter is that you are much stronger and more resilient than you may recognize.
The late John F. Kennedy said, “It is not enough to add years to your life, one must add new life to your years.”
I looked at the bottom of my foot the other day and could not find an expiration date.
Norb is a writer and blogger from Lockport.