8 Secrets to Aging Gracefully
Some things are certain in life – we know we have to pay taxes; we know we have to die. Yet somewhere in there is the mystery of not knowing how long we have until our day when we will cross over to the next life.
How many of you have or had aging parents? What did it feel like seeing them lose their vision, their hearing, their flexibility, their mobility and their independence?
My mom will be turning 89 in a few months and my dad will turn 87 later this year. We have witnessed them slowly go through the aging process these last twenty years. He was always one to take a mile or two walk every morning until several years ago. He worked as a machinist for 40 some years so he rarely ever sat during the day.
Mom worked for over 20 years in her midlife as a nurse’s aide so her days were filled with walking and lifting people and staying active.
Their diet was no where near perfect and they both had their own vices. Yet, they traveled and enjoyed independent living until last year.
Within the last year my dad has visited the ER at least 5 times. He went from being on no meds to likely over 15 a day.
Their assisted living facility allows no vitamins, no supplements—not even an aspirin in their rooms. It is truly understandable given the chances that these elderly folks may not recall having taken anything.
In the last few years when mom and dad could prepare food for themselves, they could create small salads, steamed veggies, soups, etc. Now, they are given one meal at the home and it is nearly always cooked and always has chicken with a cooked vegetable. Their little apartment does not have a cooktop or an oven but it does have a microwave. Again, with the potential for forgetting the burners or oven are on, there is good reason to not allow them.
Sadly, the longer they are living there, the easier it is to see their health regress.
Are you getting closer to that age now? Are you beginning to feel your joints creak, your vision weaken and your sleep habits changing?
If so, please understand that if you don’t heed those warning signs now, there may come a time where bending over can bring you vertigo and a bad fall, and the idea of opening a jar may very well become a distant dream.
We just don’t realize today, that all we have been taking for granted, like getting into and out of a car, actually being able to drive one, and responding to something we have heard are gifts that we can easily lose and with that loss is a great deal of independence as well as a loss of ability to maintain a relationship with someone.
Recently, I have been grieving over the fact that although I live far away, I can no longer just pick up the phone to call my parents anymore. Sure, they have a land-line phone, but neither of them can hear well enough to use it anymore. Since I cannot just drive to their place, I am deeply saddened that this mode of communication can no longer keep us together.
The aging process will continue whether you like it, are ready for it, or not. The number of people who retire and want to begin to live a life filled with relaxation, travel and experience but cannot, because their health wore out well before their wealth are far too many to chalk up to coincidence.
Recently, we spoke to a clerk in a store and quickly learned her philosophy about taking care of one’s health. She said you have to die of something anyway…. She went on to describe the story of her close relative who was born with a rare genetic disease that left him covered with tumors and likely to die at a very young age. Ironically, at each milestone, they told him that it was a fluke and that he still wouldn’t live very long. He married and had a child and what actually killed him at the age of 45 was a semi-truck that ran into his car—not his disease. So, from her perspective, you just can’t believe that you have control over anything and just accept your providential fate.
Many years ago, my father used to say, “It doesn’t matter whether you eat well or not, you will die anyway.” “When the Lord wants to take you home, He will.”
He actually changed that tune several years ago and began taking our supplements, eating healthier foods and continued with his walking. He realized that it wasn’t about dying anymore, but about living a quality, less pain-filled life.
Last week, my 90-year old aunt who had flown down to visit my cousin who also lives in North Carolina, came to our house for lunch. I made homemade two potato soup out of Rhonda’s recipe book and two beautiful salads as well as our raw chocolate peanut butter pie for dessert.
My aunt took to the many stairs in my house easily and handily. While she did have hearing aids, she was comfortable in all of our conversations and told us how she walks each day and her eating habits. She enjoyed the soup and said she eats soup at least twice a week that she still makes on her own. She was such a joy to be with and I was so honored she chose to visit us at our home. She takes only one medication and desperately wishes she wouldn’t have to take that one.
Most of us know elderly people whose lives are centered around their doctor visits and their medications. Sadly, this has become more prevalent in younger people as well.
As we continue to meet people our age, in their mid-fifties and even younger, who are well on their way to losing their retirement dreams due to excess costs associated with poor health, or their inability to maintain quality of life, we are even more purpose driven to perform the simple but important daily tasks to raise the odds that we can and will be able to enjoy some down time in our years to come.
The list is not complicated and it’s not even expensive:
- Spend at least one hour every day either doing a form of cardio or strength exercise.
- Take quality supplements daily. (D3, K2, B12, Fish oil, Magnesium, Iodine, maybe a few more depending on your situation).
- Keep moving. Try to stand up when you are looking at Facebook or answering emails.
- Breathe deeply throughout the day.
- Eat like a pauper most of your meals each day. Simple and small are the key words. Save your royal eating for the few occasions a year that merit eating like a king.
- Juice as often as possible. Consider this the best multivitamin you could ever consume.
- Pray, meditate and believe that God has your life under control so continue to give to Him all your concerns, worries and issues. Since you can’t do anything about them anyways… Maintain a positive attitude by being grounded in Him and His word.
- Be grateful for everything – Give thanks!
The daily exercise is not fun and not easy—but our goal is to avoid hip replacements or knee surgeries. We also want to avoid all the pain associated with the various types of arthritis.
Most of us at this age are pretty set in our ways anyway. We awaken at a certain time, we have our routine pretty well established and don’t really like change.
Take a look at your daily routine:
- Does it have enough movement in it?
- Are you remembering your daily supplements and juices?
- Are you taking the time to prepare quality foods?
- Are you taking the time to pray?
Even if you only do a few of these consistently, remember, the more of those questions you can respond to positively, the more likely that you will enjoy more of your days without pain and discomfort.
If you continue to move and work a little harder each day, no matter how old you are, the quality of life you live will far outweigh any of the small sacrifices of time and effort you make.
No one knows when their last day will be. Yet, every day that you are breathing know that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. You need to keep your temple in the shape He needs it to be so you can continue to do His work until He is ready to take you home.