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Saturday, March 25, 2017

 

Aging Gracefully

Aging gracefully, with dignity and self-confidence


 
Aging is a simple fact of life. Most of us are blessed with childhood and teenage stages of development, followed by a period as young adults. Then the aging process begins.

Most people don't appreciate aging like they should. After all, not everyone is lucky enough to be blessed with the "aging" stage of their life. Just spend a few minutes reading your daily newspaper and you'll realize that many among us will never get to experience aging at all.

Does that mean that we should look forward to aging? Absolutely! Aging is a normal stage in everyone's life.

If we acknowledge the fact that we're going to get older and embrace the aging process, we can enjoy our lives from 40 years of age and up. You may enjoy the time in one of many New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco assisted living options.

I noticed something around the time that I turned 40. My beard was slowly graying to a mixed "salt and pepper" shade. But you know what? I found that I actually liked it. I had always looked younger than my age and now I looked older and more distinguished. I came to realize that this aging thing isn't as bad as I had always imagined that it would be.

Of course aging does come with all of the regular health issues: back problems, arthritis, and the rest. But for me, the benefits of aging definitely outweigh the benefits of not aging. (Are there any benefits of not aging? I can't think of any.)

Here are a few recommendations for aging gracefully:

  • Accept aging as a fact of life and embrace it. Always think about those who will never have the opportunity to age.
     
  • Remember that your age is just a number, not who you are. Don't allow yourself to be defined as "old". The old adage "You're only as old as you feel" is right on the money. And, most importantly, don't define yourself as old!
     
  • Understand that aging lends an air of respect, dignity, and wisdom. Feel good about it. Your aging will be seen as a good thing in the eyes of others. Make sure you view your aging in the same way.
     
  • Do everything you can to "stay young". Staying young (not feeling old) isn't the same thing as preventing aging. Far from it. Aging is simply growing older. Aging can't be prevented (and we shouldn't want to stop aging lest we get what we ask for). We can do things to help us "stay young" however.
     
  • Exercise and eat healthy meals. Regular workouts and proper nutrition help keep the body "young".
     
  • Don't smoke or indulge in strong beverages. These are the two leading causes of serious health problems which will make you feel and look old.
     
  • Visit your doctor regularly and follow her advice. If there's a problem, catch it early and take care of it before it takes care of you.
     
  • Keep doing what you enjoy. Play tennis, take in a movie, go on a cruise. Doing things that you enjoy will keep you happy, healthy, and feeling and looking young. You'll still age, but you won't feel old!
     
  • Never stop working! When you reach retirement age, don't retire unless you have to. If you're forced to retire, do it, and then promptly get another job that you'll love doing. Many people retire and promptly go downhill emotionally and physically. Retirement is for old people. But you're aging, not getting old, remember?

    The late comedian George Burns booked performances for dates well past his 100th birthday. He worked almost to the very end, and loved every minute of it. He never let the fact that he was aging affect how old he felt.
      
  • Relish the fact that you're aging and don't try to hide it. You do remember what the alternative is, right?

    When someone pays you a compliment about your appearance or "how young you look", simply accept it, gracefully and happily. Most likely the compliment is a very sincere one.

    Don't deflect your compliments with phrases like "Well, I sure don't feel young!". Instead, just say "thank you!" with a big smile on your face and move on.

    When you're asked how old you are, simply smile and tell them! You'll be surprised how many compliments you'll get about not looking your age.
This past year, we celebrated the life of a wonderful lady from our rural Virginia community (near Abingdon) who lived to the ripe old age of 105! She was a picture of youth and vigor well into her 100's. When asked, she would eagerly attribute her longevity and good health to "clean living, hard work, a healthy attitude, and the Lord's grace".

With a sharp mind and quick wit, this amazing woman would regale her visitors with larger-than-life (but true) tales of her life as a young girl almost 100 years ago! She was without a doubt one of the youngest centenarians who ever lived!

With the right attitude and personal choices, we can all enjoy the aging process, viewing it as a friend and ally. While aging isn't something within our control, getting old is!
 

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