Graceful Aging

So you can’t get down in the floor with your grandchildren without needing a hand or two to help you back up. Afraid you’ll look old, frail or fat, clumsy or awkward? So what? There’ll be precious few moments when the kids are still young, and begging Grandma to “Please play with us!”

But there are life-things you can do, to keep the Hounds of Old Age at bay. The most important, perhaps, is maintaining a proper attitude. Remember what they say: Age is a state of mind. Psychologists tell us that aging begins at age 45. It’s at about that time in our life when we need to veer off in a new direction.

Mind and body are at the center of your self. Exercise at least moderately. Even residents in nursing homes are encouraged to do ‘wheelchair aerobics.’ Listen to music as you exercise at home. Go for a brisk, daily walk around the block, if nothing else.

Maintain several close friendships, other than your immediate family. Go to lunch with a friend, shopping or to church. It’s nice to know that, when your telephone rings, it won’t just be a wrong number. Social connections become even more important as you grow older, to help you avoid feeling isolated.

Learn new things that have always been of interest to you, that previously you might not have had time for. The stock market, the fiber art of the Native American tribes, the novels of Henry James, astronomy and the Big Bang theory, seashells — anything that stretches your mind and makes you think and perhaps even view an issue or experience in a new light. Go to to re-read some of the novels you may have read at a younger age — Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary,’ or ‘The Secret Garden,’ ‘Ethan Frome,’ ‘Anna Karenina’ or more than 600 others. You can now read these great works online.

Watch your diet. Concentrate on high-fiber, low-fat. Limit red meat. Accept your body, and realize that you’ll never regain the girlish figure you had at age 30. Wear comfortable clothes that fit but give you a bit of style and flair. Big hats, handbags, dramatic jewelry were made for Older Gals. Enjoy looking elegant, and don’t wear matron?s shoes!

Have your hair done professionally in an easy-care style. You can be much more subdued than Auntie Mame while still making your own fashion statement. Wear make-up and perfume — you’ll feel prettier!

Be open to young ideas without shutting your mind like a clamshell. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you have all the answers. So be wary of giving unwanted advice, or thinking you’re the Authority.

Set goals for yourself. “By June, I’ll have accomplished x and x.” Keep an eye on your money — what you have now, and what you plan to have next year. Challenge yourself to be frugal, live simply, and still have fun. Frequent the public library and used bookstores for reading material.

You’re retired and live alone? Make it a point to leave the house at least once a day, weather permitting. Resolve not to be one of those whiney old people whose kids tell one another, “Have you called Mom this week? Is she OK?” You don’t want to be a Duty Call, so don’t be an obligation your children dread. You raised them to be independent, take-charge adults. And now, more than ever, you can still be a living example of How to Live a Life, even in the Golden Years.

Stephania Munson edits ‘Tidbits from the Pantry’, an ezine that is sent to more than 11,000 opt-in subscribers. She recently retired after 40 years in the field of human services, and offers a free email evaluation of a life-problem to any subscriber.

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