How to Age Gracefully

A positive outlook about your age can help you live longer.

This week I received a phone call from a high school classmate inviting me to our fiftieth class reunion. The call hit me by surprise. What? Fifty years have passed since I graduated? After the shock wore off, I did the mental math. I graduated from high school in 1971. Just another reminder that time doesn’t stop. Sometimes I feel like my body is a driverless car on the road to an unknown destination.

The cosmetic industry has made billions from products which help hide or slow down the effects of aging, but nothing stops the process. For twenty-five years I colored my hair to hide my age. When the 2020 shut down closed the beauty shops, I let my hair return to its natural state. After awhile I began to like my salt and pepper look. Now a year later, I’ve accepted myself for who I am. After all, isn’t gray hair considered the “splendor of the old?”

Most women don’t want anyone to know how old they are. After age eighty, all of a sudden their attitude changes. They wear their age like a badge of honor to represent their personal victory over the struggles of life. I am thankful for the advancements in health care which make it possible for us to live longer.

Today people can expect to spend a quarter of their adult lives in retirement mode. These can be the best years of our lives if we approach them with the right attitude. That’s right, attitude means everything. Did you know a positive outlook about your age can help you live longer? In this post I’d like to share some tips for nurturing a healthy attitude.

Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Are you someone who regularly complains about how bad they feel? Accept the reality that you are aging and do what you can to alleviate your aches and pains. Focus on the opportunities of today instead of regretting the mistakes of the past. People lose their “aliveness” when they weigh themselves down with negativity.

Exercise Your Mind

When we learn new skills our brain function increases. Routines create ruts and limit our growth. Our brains love stimulation. Try puzzles, read, learn new vocabulary, dance, listen to music. For more ideas go to this link for brain Exercises.

Stay Connected Socially and Spiritually

Keep in touch with old friends. Deepen your relationship with God by reading the Bible and praying. Connect with people who share a similar interests. Volunteer in your community.

Express Gratitude

Every day think of three things you are thankful for. Keep a journal of blessings. Express your thankfulness to and for others. Be thankful for your age. God has given you these years and it is indeed a wonderful life.

Soon my husband and I will be moving into a retirement community. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and treasure these years together.

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”

—Frank Lloyd Wright

Now I’m Sixty-Four

When I was fourteen my best friend and I listened to Sergeant Pepper’s until our ears bled.  This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the album’s release. A popular song on the album is When I’m Sixty-Four.  Paul McCartney’s lyrics describe what it might be like when two lovers grow old together.  In 1967 I thought people who were sixty-four probably needed canes and hearing aids.  And now here I am.

As a teenager, I couldn’t relate to When I’m Sixty-Four. It didn’t speak to me so I would usually lift up the needle on the record player and drop it down on A Day in the Life.  Now there’s a song with social significance, a satire about the news media! Like other baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, I challenged the status quo.

My first attempt at reforming the world occurred in 1970 when I was elected student council president of my high school. I petitioned our local school board to change the dress code to allow girls to wear “pantsuits”. Unless Ohio temperatures dropped below ten degrees Farenheit, girls were required to wear skirts or dresses. Students thought it unfair as temperatures frequently dropped below twenty, but rarely below ten.   Imagine my surprise when the school board agreed with me and changed the dress policy to permit “pantsuits” (no jeans yet) year round.  I was the heroine of our small community.

Baby boomers work hard to achieve their goals. When we started kindergarten in the fifties, schools were overcrowded. We had to perform well to get the teacher’s attention. When we graduated from college competition for jobs was intense. This made us competitive and ambitious. We relish achievement. Our identity is often tied to what we do.

Is that why old rockers keep on rocking? I attended a Paul McCartney concert in 2013. At age seventy-two he moved around the stage like a young man. He performed for three hours without taking a break. The concert made me feel like I had just taken a dip in the fountain of youth. Afterward I realized my life was slipping by too fast.  So I left my teaching job to write and travel more.  I wonder what Paul McCartney might think if he knew he inspired someone in their sixties to pursue their passion?

Like everyone, I don’t know what lies ahead. I feel good now, but what will I feel like in ten years? Twenty years? Remember my motto?  I want to do as much as I can for as long as I can with no regrets.  Is sixty really the new forty?

By 2029 the number of Americans over age sixty-five is expected to be 71 million (twenty percent of the population). At least I’m in good company. Although my generation is known for changing what we don’t like, aging is unstoppable. We can try to hide it with hair color and anti-wrinkle cream but time marches on.

My mother tells me, “Old age is not for the faint of heart.” It takes a certain amount of courage to accept the reality that aging brings physical decline. How will I handle old age?

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 84?”