To say that you have fewer choices as you get older is a common myth. In your younger years there were decisions about where to go school if you could, who to partner with or marry, whether to have children or not, when to change jobs, when to move. Back then your world seemed not endless but always full of potential. After age 70 you start to think in terms of “what next?”, not in terms of choice but in passive fear of the future.
Conversely, I think that as we age we are given a host of smaller decisions that make the rest of the our way in life more uniquely ours. This is not to say lack of savings or financial instability and/or pressing health problems do not put you in a corner. I guess I could be accuse myself of being naive to think those two factors alone would not make a significance difference for someone who is getting older. Again my background in counseling and more specifically rehabilitation counseling, always makes me look for another solution – another perspective when challenges arise.
I continue to read many blogs on aging and I have become very fond of the Next Avenue website. It is a wonderful balance of practical advice for us old folks without being too morose. From a recent article: http://www.nextavenue.org/secret-of-aging/?hide_newsletter=true&utm_source=Next+Avenue+Email+Newsletter&utm_campaign=dd5640614f-01_24_2017_Tues_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_056a405b5a-dd5640614f-165618277&mc_cid=dd5640614f&mc_eid=207e1e9158 there are recommendations for aging well. The general point of the article is about the science of how your genes change as you age. Read down the list and see how many of these items are actually something you can choose to do or not do. Look at this list and pick three things you can do today to make your days better.
For Healthier Aging
Your cellular health is reflected in the well-being of your mind, body, and community. Here are the elements of telomere maintenance that we believe to be the most crucial for a healthier world:
- Evaluate sources of persistent, intense stress. What can you change?
- Transform a threat to a challenge appraisal.
- Become more self-compassionate and compassionate to others.
- Take up a restorative activity.
- Practice thought awareness and mindful attention. Awareness opens doors to well-being.
- Be active.
- Develop a sleep ritual for more restorative and longer sleep.
- Eat mindfully to reduce overeating and ride out cravings.
- Choose telomere-healthy foods like whole foods and omega-3s; skip the bacon.
- Make room for connection; disconnect from screens for part of the day.
- Cultivate a few good, close relationships.
- Provide children quality attention and the right amount of “good stress.”
- Cultivate your neighborhood social capital. Help strangers.
- Seek green. Spend time in nature.
Some of these suggestions may seem trite, some a bit too holistic for your lifestyle . But mixed in this list are some chances to build some cornerstones to better aging. Most of it involves getting out of the tight enclosure of your own social bubble and dealing with the world. You can settle for what life has left for you or you can find out how much bigger it still can become.