As Mark Twain succinctly observed, 'Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you do not mind, it does not matter'.
Growing old is something that cannot be wished away. If one is able to anticipate the changes, and be prepared to face them positively, then we are better equipped to age gracefully. Most of us play this game of denying our age. We get more and more sensitive about our age as we get older. When we are in our teens, we wish that we grew up quickly into adults. Even when we were in our twenties and thirties, we never minded getting older. However, the cornerstone seems to be the magical figure of 40 when we suddenly begin to grow conscious of our age.
We start worrying unduly about how best to conceal our age and laugh lines. We start looking for beauty tips and stories of how people are sporting radiant, youthful skin despite their age. Especially so, in this age, when everything seems to be centered on youth. We refuse to wear our age on our sleeves, knowing only too well that aging is a natural and inevitable process. We would do well to remember that attitude is more important than looks. It would do us a world of good if we remain young at heart
Aging Gracefully: Let's face it - our senses and muscles are going to undergo steady changes whether we like it or not. While we may be able slow down the process by adhering to a sensible diet and exercise regimen, we cannot altogether prevent the aging process.
After a certain age, most of us may no longer be gainfully employed. We would be left with a big void in our lives as many of us may not have planned what to do with our lives after retirement. So, it would be a good idea to plan well ahead as to what we would like to do after retirement. Maybe, seriously follow a hobby for which we had no time earlier, due to our hectic work schedules. Just do something that one passionately enjoys. It might be a leisure sport, travel, painting, or even taking up a social cause one believes in.
We know very well that with age, we might become more forgetful and hence we would do well to be more organized - like making checklists of tasks and ticking them off as we complete them. Making post-it notes and displaying them in some obvious places such as on the refrigerator, would save a lot of trouble. Searching for things that we use daily such as car keys, handbags, briefcase, cash and bills can be annoying.
Hence it would be a good idea to store them all in one place in the house where we will remember to look for them. And of course,religiously put them back there. We could mark birthdays, anniversaries and bills that are due, on the wall calendar. That would help us to effectively deal with memory problems.
As we grow older, we may find that children, who used to keep us busy when we were younger, now have their own lives to live. Keeping oneself stimulated mentally would help to keep off boredom and ennui. Having a routine to look forward to, and sticking to it would drive away most of the old-age blues of loneliness. Remember, during our heydays in our youth, we always had a routine to follow. So what if you have retired?
You could still draw up a schedule that you stick to and make some interesting variations to just pep things up a bit. You could probably volunteer for a social cause (maybe at a center for seniors), or perhaps, join a local social club, a book club, or even join some classes that interest you. That way, you would be networking with people with whom you share a common interest and that would perhaps be the starting point for new friendships.
Nothing like common interests to keep friendships going. You could do your exercises more regularly - perhaps long walks in the neighborhood. If you do not feel motivated enough to go for your walks alone, join with some friends, or you could even offer to walk your neighbor's dog. That way, your regular need for exercise is taken care of.
Aging gracefully would involve keeping ourselves interested in the world - for instance, keeping abreast of the news, reading the latest publications of your favorite author (even if it means you have to go for the larger print). All these small things help in having great conversations over dinner. From experience, we know that we are drawn to people who are interested in the world around them and also show interest in us. So, by keeping alive our interest in the world around us, we can be attractive to others despite our age.
This would enable us to forge long-term friendships and relationships. Be sure to compliment others generously - just remember how much we like to hear nice things ourselves. Cooking for friends and family is another good idea, if you feel that you do not get to meet them as often as in the past, especially, if you can boast of decent culinary skills. Who doesn't like to be pampered every now and then with good food?
Be less cynical and more understanding - that was a complaint that we often made when we were young. And for sure, you would do well to have a good sense of humor about you. As Michael Pritchard observed, 'You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing'. And rest assured that you would get more compliments for aging gracefully. We may have to learn to deal more often than before, with the loss of dear friends or companions. So, making new friends along the way would be a definite help.
Not for a moment are we suggesting that you should not try and look your best or indulge yourself every now and then to make you feel nice about how you look. Go for that smart dress, or new eye glasses, or a trendy hair cut that would make you look so much better. The only suggestion is that do not be too obsessed with only your physical appearance. Aging gracefully has got very little to do with how you appear, - it is in how well you cope with the process of aging - how well prepared you are to deal with it. The key to aging gracefully is to remain active - unless you do, you will not experience the results of your actions and it is these outcomes that make life meaningful and enjoyable.
Just go ahead and be proud of your age. The years that you have lived, the lines, the wrinkles, are all part of your whole - they embody the real you, the spirit in which you have lived so far. If we are going to deny any part of who you are, the real you, then you are not going to be truly happy. Every age has its own beauty and charm. It is only natural that everybody grows old. If you know how to deal with it then you know how to age gracefully. You may want to make use of all those years of experience behind you, or you may crib and complain about how unfair it is that you have deal with. So, here's to aging gracefully.