BY SUSAN ADCOX
Sometimes I feel as if I’m failing at aging.
Oh, I’m aging all right. My upper arms jiggle, and I don’t see as well at night. But am I aging well?
The media is full of older people doing amazing things. They run marathons! Start businesses! Run for President!
Is it any wonder that the average aging individual feels like a failure?
I’m glad that we’re slowly learning that the average grandmother doesn’t have a gray bun and orthopedic shoes. The average grandfather doesn’t spend his days in his recliner.
But just because some grandparents do incredible things doesn’t mean that we all want to or need to.
Training for a marathon would take too much time and energy away from my grandchildren. I’m happy to do yoga and water aerobics instead. And I think that’s the key word: happy.
I vote for happy
We should all try to age happily, and that means different things for different people. I’ve given up reading escapist literature because I feel it’s a waste of time. My friend reads ONLY escapist literature, because she feels that she has spent enough time in serious reading.
My husband and I enjoy grocery shopping, cooking and eating at home. Some of our friends have decided that they’ve spent too much of their lives in the kitchen, and they are going there as infrequently as possible.
The three essentials
No matter how you’ve chosen to pare down your life, however, we all need to include three elements:
- Something that makes you move. The research continues to pile up that nothing helps you age well quite like exercise does. The benefits are physical, mental and emotional. Find some kind of exercise that you like to do, and do it faithfully.
- Something that makes you think. Write a blog. Take up painting. Freshen up your high school French. It doesn’t matter as long as you get those synapses firing.
- Something that feeds your spirit. For me, that means hiking, camping and just being in nature. Maybe your spirit-feeding place is a church, a museum, a concert hall or a boat. Go there as often as you can.
Do these three things, and you’ll not only be aging well. You’ll be living well.
Susan Adcox is the Grandparents Expert on About.com and the author of Stories From My Grandparent: A Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. A former teacher, she has seven grandchildren.