We all get older, but some do it faster than others. The idea should be to make the most of every day, to be involved in life because research shows it has a direct impact on quality of life and longevity.
Aging need not be negative. In fact, those who have a more positive view of aging live some seven years longer than those with a negative outlook, according to a Yale University study.
Here are some of my personal tips for aging well:
Try new things as often as you can
Find satisfaction in your endeavors and your abilities
Keep only cheerful friends
Keep learning so the brain doesn’t idle
Enjoy the simple things and joys of life, i.e. family, friends, pets
Laugh often, long and loud, and spend lots and lots of time with those who make you laugh
Enjoy life to the fullest, and when tears happen (which they do) grieve and move on
In your home, surround yourself with what you love, whatever it is: mementos, music, plants
Cherish your health: if it is good, preserve it, if it is unstable improve it or get help
Give back through volunteering which is a source of satisfaction while being good for your health
Don’t take guilt trips (they are a waste of time)
At every opportunity, tell those you love that you love them
Forgive now because you might not get a second chance
Dance at every opportunity for the health of your body and spirit
Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle
Be aware of your mortality because it fuels positive behaviors such as kindness and helpfulness as well as better health decisions.
And, even if your children chide you for eating dinner early, pay them no mind. Many studies have shown that eating dinner early and fasting for 12 hours could be the secret to long-lasting brain health and improved memory function.
In short, laugh, keep busy and eat early. Nothing difficult about that, is there?
I think we’ve all said that at some point or other after being so engrossed in what we were doing that we lost track of time. However, over the holidays when using that expression people were referring to the year just ending as they assessed how quickly the last twelve months have sped by.
Imagine how short a year will be for a set of twins born a year apart on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2020. One a few minutes before midnight and the other a few minutes after midnight. Won’t that be fun when they get older? Twins born a year apart! Actually a decade apart!
Because we are entering a new decade this year we are made aware, more than ever, of how so very quickly years and even decades melt away. Like you I certainly remember very clearly when we entered a new century full of fear and hope some twenty years ago now. Yet it doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? The talk about Y2K was a source of anxiety for anyone who had a computer, but especially for large businesses such as banks and airlines. Everyone was worried that the world would basically stop working because of the numbers in 2000. Too many zeros? I remember being at a party on the last day of 1999 when we all waited for the stroke of midnight and the damage we would all be facing. Yet, 2000 arrived and the world continued working without even a burp, and innovations have continued marching on at greater and greater speed ever since.
Many people I talked to over the holidays agreed that 2020 came much faster than they anticipated. I think we are all a bit surprised when a new year rolls around and we have to get used to a new number. And we do, however when entering a new decade it gives us pause, does it not? More than one number changes and we have to make certain we use the right year on our documents. It also makes us clearly aware that time stops for no one. We are all older.
However, I was surprised to hear one of my granddaughters remark that she can’t believe how old she is getting!
Kid, wait till you reach a respectable age as my mother used to say, then we’ll talk about the passage of time.
To all of you who read my blog, Happy New Year, Happy New Decade.
As pointed out in my last blog, there are countless ways a person can volunteer. The needs are great and it’s only a question of deciding the best way you can give back.
However, it must be said that once you’ve decided to be a volunteer you have to plan how to go about it and understand that there is a process to follow.
Here are some pointers to guide your steps:
-- If you have a specific organization in mind, contact the chapter in your community and speak with the manager of volunteers. Most charities have websites which provide volunteering information and opportunities.
-- Contact your local volunteer bureau to collect information about the needs of organizations in your community and to identify the agencies that could benefit from your support.
-- Check the local media for volunteer needs in your area.
-- Talk to friends and relatives who already volunteer as they can provide information.
The Next Step
Volunteering today involves more than simply coming forward and offering your time and skills. Organizations devote time to matching volunteers to positions to ensure a positive experience for everyone concerned.
As a prospective volunteer, you can expect a process which will include:
An application A formal application helps the organization determine how best to use your talents.
An interview This process is an opportunity for you the perspective volunteer to learn more about volunteer positions and their responsibilities.
A background check To avoid problems down the road, organizations do background checks on perspective volunteers and do contact references.
Training Organizations usually provide orientation and training to their volunteers to ensure they clearly understand their responsibilities as a volunteer.
Volunteering is an act of generosity that should be enjoyable. Once an organization and you have agreed on a specific activity, remember that if it isn’t what you expected you can ask to do something else. Happy volunteers contribute their time for years, something charitable organizations understand only too well. Simply explain the problem frankly and openly.
The sense of fulfillment makes it all worthwhile. There is a feeling of satisfaction and pride at contributing to ease the burden of others, and it is positively energizing.
It would be difficult to imagine how some organizations or groups could function without volunteers. And that’s where mature people with decades of accumulated experience are ideally suited to enhance their community’s quality of life by putting their skills to good use through volunteering.
Volunteering has many positive results. It is a good way to keep busy, meet new people and feel needed now that the children are on their own. It’s also perfect for keeping physically and mentally active. And, it puts one’s own problems into perspective.
Often volunteers get involved with a specific group or organization because they have lost a loved one to a devastating illness. However, if uncertain on how you could volunteer in your community, it is a good idea to begin by assessing your interests and experience. Most of us have accumulated so many skills that it might be difficult in fact to focus on one in particular.
If you “only” raised a family, you have organizational, teaching, money management and people skills that a wide range of organizations could use. If you love working with your hands, you could offer your services to do repairs and maintenance at shelters or food banks. If you drive a car, you can deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound people. If you are a grandparent you can get involved in your community’s intergenerational programs to interact with a young child who doesn’t have grandparents. If you can read, an elderly person with poor eyesight would welcome being read to. If you have a telephone, you can become a lifeline for a lonely elderly person by keeping in touch on a daily basis.
If you love to clown around, why not don a clown suit and visit a local hospital so ill children can laugh, or visit a long-term care facility to share stories and play games. If you write well, consider giving your time to writing an organization’s newsletter or other materials. Youth groups of all sorts could use the expertise of teachers.
The list is almost endless for those ready to give back.
Aging, I decided, is agift As I get older I am at peace with myself and proud of the person I now am. Oh, not physically! I sometime moan about my body, the wrinkles and the sagging butt. And often I wonder about the person in my mirror I hardly recognize, but not for long.
I would never trade my amazing family, my wonderful friends, my tranquil life for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and lesscritical of myself. I've become my own friend. Ihave seen too many leave this world too soon -- before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.
I will dance withmyself to those wonderful tunes of my youth, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I will walk the beach in a swimsuit stretched over a less-than-perfect body if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old before they know it. Over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a lovedone, or when a child suffers, or even when your beloved pet dies? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding. A heart never broken is pristine andsterile and will never know the joy of being compassionate. I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning grey, and to see my youthful laughs forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. As we getolder it is easier to be positive. We care a lot less about what otherpeople think. We have even earned the right to be wrong on occasion. I like my age. It has set me free.I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever,but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.
We’ve all heard the expression Laughter is the Best Medicine, but how many of us take it seriously?
The first one to do so was, of course, Norman Cousins who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that caused him severe pain. When doctors were convinced that he would not live more than a few months he took matters into his own hand to reverse the damage. He left his hospital bed and followed his personal road to recovery. He took massive amounts of vitamin C and embarked on laughter therapy by watching comedies. He soon realized that ten minutes of laughter allowed him to sleep pain free for several hours. He slowly improved as he continued to laugh as much as he could. Two years later he returned to work completely cured.
Laughter is good for the body and the soul as it increases endorphins leading to brain activity which amps up memory and recall. In short it makes the brain work better. Nothing works faster or is more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer. In addition studies have found that laughter improves the function of blood vessels which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
What about those who seem to have negativity ingrained in their heads? It then becomes a question of making the effort to focus on things that can make them feel better, and laughter is a great vehicle to reach that goal. It certainly reverses a bad mood.
Laughter therapy to relieve negativity, pain and stress is free and universally accessible to everyone. There are of course comedies on television and movies and many radio stations now offer comedy hours. There’s also laughter yoga which provides exercise for the body and the mind. We only have to look to find sources of laughter. Or hanging around with those for whom laughter comes easily rather than with sourpusses.
Groups calling themselves Laughter on Call visit care centers to help those suffering from dementia and severe pain, and they are making a difference. They are improving the lives of people who might not find much to laugh about in their reality.
Canadian Albert Neremberg, one of the world’s top experts on the benefits of laughter, uses laughter therapy when working with patients in drug and rehab centers. “Recovering addicts are pining for a rush, and laughing gives them the most natural high there is,” he says.
I am the happy grandmother of beautiful and wonderful children. After working as an editor for years, I now devote my time to writing. I have published two books, and I am editing a couple more. Whenever something interests me, bothers me, gets me all riled up, brings me to tears, or touches my soul, I love to write about it. So read on.
This blog is to be a sharing of daily happenings for those of us who are mature in every sense of the word.
A new blog will be posted every Thursday, more often when the spirit moves me. The themes will hover around anything and everything of interest to those over 50.