Mom with her second great grandchild. She met 16 of the 17 “grands” and she and dad were very much a part of their lives. They kept in touch with their grandchildren via phone and always made reports to my brother and I about the latest great grandchild story.
I’ve been thinking about my parents. They both lived till they were 92. My dad’s mom lived till she was 94!
I like to think of them as pioneers – brave because they explored new frontiers. Not many people, in their generation, lived as long.
I think they wanted our family to see them as vital and engaged. They watched the news, read books and were generally interested in the world around them. Mom walked most days and dad was always at ‘the farm’ helping.
I know they felt loneliness and pain yet they tried not to continually focus on that. Until the last year of both their lives, when anyone visited mom and dad were interested in their families and lives and that made the visitor feel important.
When I read books about people who have lived past 100, there is a common theme. Move every day, even if it hurts. While walking is recommended, any activity that gets you out and about is key. Be wise when you chose an activity. Acknowledge that your body may not be up for a rigorous work out, the important thing is to move.
Be social. Talk to others, even on the bus or coffee shop. Phone someone. Identify a lonely person and see if you can cheer them up. The centertians all made an effort to get out or invite someone over.
Focus on the present and the future and then define a purpose each day. Most of the centurions interviewed in the two books I read said that they woke up in the morning thinking about what they could accomplish that day.
One joked it was to get her compression socks on so she could go for a walk! Another said it was to find a way to open the peanut butter jar. Definitely a sense of humour helps…
While their goal might be less than when they were in their 60s, 70s or 80s, they still identified a goal. Not all of them named it a goal. It was simply a reason to get up, get dressed and move.
We have great models to observe at our winter home. We live in an active-living recreational vehicle park. Only motor homes and fifth wheels are allowed. One has to be in pretty good physical shape just to navigate the stairs into a recreational vehicle so this becomes a goal for most living here.
People up to 90 year olds are out walking most days, learning or playing pickle ball and tennis, directing choir, teaching ukelele, bike-riding, getting holes in one on the golf course, hiking and hosting resort-wide dinners.
Many residents have had knees, shoulders, hips replaced, have battled diseases or are caring for an ill loved-one. It doesn’t seem to slow them down, they just do it! There is lots of help from other residents as we don’t spend much time in our 400 square foot ‘homes.’ We get to know others quickly as we see most every day. We like to be out in the sun and therefore, without even noticing, we are more active.
So what is your purpose today? Have you got out and moved? Who have you chatted with? Have you learned anything? Have you helped someone?
We too are pioneers as we navigate through our aging process. What are we modelling?