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  • Writer's pictureDiane Henderson

9 Ways to Age Gracefully

1. Remember that age is just a number.

When I first started writing, I joined a writer’s group and met a woman who was active in city politics, fun to be around, and writing her third book. I was shocked when I learned that she was in her early 80’s. I asked her how she managed to be so active, productive, and enjoy life so much. Her response was, “Life is not about your age, it is more about your attitude. I can either sit around feeling sorry for myself that my husband died, and my children have grown and flown, or I can stay busy, productive, and enjoy what life I have left. I choose the latter.”

2. Take care of your body.

I have a long-time friend who has for 30 years tried to get me interested in exercising. She loves to exercise, it invigorates her. I think she lives to do it. For me exercise was and still is a drag. It does nothing for me except make me tired and grumpy. However, as we have aged, I can see how much more agile she is than me, how much more energy she has than me, how fewer aches and pains she has than me, and even how much sharper her brain is than mine. (She won’t be reading this article. I won’t admit to her that I am aware of the above. LOL). There are exercises that those of us of a certain age can do that are not strenuous and can still be beneficial. I have learned recently that any exercise you do for seven minutes daily is beneficial. If you can only do 3 minutes, don’t give up. Commit to working yourself up to 7.

3. Keep your sense of humor!

Laughter is good for your soul. Anything good for your soul is good for your body. Learn to laugh at yourself when you do something out of character, or even strange like forgetting to sign a check before mailing it off. Beating yourself up will not change the situation but will surely zap your energy and sense of selfworth. Take responsibility for what you have failed to do and make a joke out of it. Laughing at yourself is a lifesaver. Once you learn to laugh at yourself, you will find humor in many other situations. Laughing increases heart function, the sympathetic nervous system and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Try your best to turn your anger into humor. I promise that you will be glad that you did, and you will be healthier for it.

4. Surround yourself with young people.

You have a lifetime of wisdom that young people can learn from, and they can energize and recharge you without either of you even realizing it. Be careful not to be judgmental of them. Be aware that the world in which they grew up is very different from the one in which you grew up. Learn to laugh with them and at them. There is much they can learn from us and believe it or not, there is much we can also learn from them.

5. It is important to allow yourself to grieve the things that you can no longer do and find new things that you can enjoy doing.

If you are reading this, there are probably quite a few things that you can no longer do or enjoy doing. Remember that you are never too old to learn something new, and I am sure there is a young person in your life that is willing to teach you. Sometimes we do have to go through the grief process, but please don’t pitch your tent there. If you are grieving a counselor can be a big help and Medicare will most likely pay for it.

6. Laugh a lot, love a lot, and don’t take life too seriously.

It is what it is. All of your worry about how the world and the people in it have changed will not change the facts. It will only depress you. Laughing at yourself comes more easily to some than others. If this is difficult for you, please work on learning how to do it. You will soon see the benefits. One person laughed when she told me that she got on the floor to clean up some ice cream that she had spilled on the carpet and for the life of her she could not get up no matter how hard she tried. She said that she began cursing herself and then started to laugh at how funny she must look. It was only when she began laughing that she figured out that she could crawl to the couch and then pull herself up. Laughter at self never hurt anyone.

7. Accept that the world has changed and it ain’t what it used to be.

You can run or hide from the changes. You can also get stuck in grieving the changes, but you will only be hurting yourself. Work on accepting the changes with grace and remember that you don’t have to participate in them. To fight them is futile. My mother-in-law used to say, “The world has passed me by.” Every year I get older, I have a greater understanding of what she meant. I now say to myself, “It is what it is”, shake my head, and move on. I may not approve of the changes, but dwelling negatively on them only hurts me.

8. Be grateful that the Lord has granted you old age.

If you are of a certain age, you have probably outlived many of your family and friends. It is important that while you grieve the losses, to also have thanks that you continue to have the privilege of living. Gratitude is always beneficial for your psychological well-being as well as your physical well-being. Focusing on gratefulness can help you prevent depression. You will also be more interesting and enjoyable to be around.

9. Never stop learning.

Last but not least, never stop learning. Like I said earlier, there are many things we can learn from the younger generation, and most often they are happy to teach us. Your local library and Senior Center probably offer classes that might interest you. Community colleges have classes on various topics that you can attend in person. If you are not mobile, there are free online classes from various universities. YouTube and many computer bloggers also offer classes. Remember what my friend said in the first statement? Aging gracefully is about your attitude and learning new things about yourself, others, and the world in general which can help keep your attitude positive and your life more exciting.

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