Tips for Aging Gracefully

older coupleAging is an inevitable biological process that has to be dealt with, whether it is celebrated with candles and cake, or vigorously smothered with anti-aging creams.  While it is satisfying to look younger than our actual age, how we manage the process should be more than skin-deep if we are to achieve the virtues that come with old age.

While declining physical and mental faculties are attendant to growing old, the process of wear and tear could be slowed down.  This is best accomplished long before the first signs of aging set in, and the process could be more accurately described as a way of life.  Aging gracefully requires an investment started in youth, with the compounded interest harvested in golden years.

So how do you start banking on your future today?  Here are some of the things you may want to start investing in:

  • Meaningful relationships.  Among centenarians found in “blue zones” – areas where a concentration of people over 100 are found, like Sardinia (Italy) and Okinawa (Japan) – love and support of the family was the common denominator of centenarians who still maintained some degree of their mental faculties and physical capabilities.  Quite obviously, to grow old well means being able to move around, preferably on two legs and not on two wheels.  Senior citizens with diminished mental faculties can’t be expected to move about and not meet an accident, so eventually they become chair-bound.  A wide network of friends further boost your emotional and mental health, with each personality enriching your own experiences and world view;
  • Physical health.  Nobody wants to be a burden to his or her family, and nothing drains the family’s finances and emotions like declining health.  When you are still in prime shape despite your advancing years, you can still contribute in productive ways even if they do not easily equate to money.  As your children establish their own families and advance in their professions, chances are they need extra hands to attend to kids while they are away.  Who better to help out than grandma and grandpa?  It also does not hurt one bit to walk your great-grandchild to pre-school while his parents take a break;
  • Mental acuity.  Aging becomes tedious when boredom sets in.  Bored people can’t wait to get “there.”  To keep your mind off from counting your days, actively engage yourself in work, hobby or causes you enjoy and care about.  Travel.  Write a journal of your experiences and the insights you have gained. Try something new to expand your neural connections. Do one thing at a time, and deliberately choose to be absorbed in what you do at the moment.  Multi-tasking has been found to diminish concentration anyway;
  • Community.  You have heard it said:  “A great man draws a circle around his family; a greater man draws a larger circle that includes his community.”  Your road to self-actualization becomes more meaningful and your life becomes more relevant when a lot more people benefit from what you do;
  • Legacy.  You want to leave behind as little mess as possible.  Save your family from heartache and headache with living will and trust, and all other pertinent pre-need papers to ease up their own transition when you’re gone.  Of course, you don’t want to be remembered with the (little) mess you created, so while you can, work something for the benefit not only of the present community, but also of the next. Reaching out seems a logical step when you’ve already satisfied your own needs and desires.  Who knows?  Other people might build on what you have started.  That way, not only will you leave the place as it is, you will have improved it.