Aging is inevitable. No matter how much you deny it, the fact is it adds up and manifests itself one way or another. The key is to face the aging process and let the years add to one’s experience and wisdom.
The Ruth Foundation has interviewed a number of older persons, and in its “Instagran” feature last year for Hopeful Magazine, it was able to profile some of the tenets of wisdom that it was able to generate.
Let’s see what our Instagrans were able to impart:
1. Make the most out of life
Don’t dwell on your failures or what could have been. Use and enjoy what you have – family, children, grandchildren, money, property, and good health. Be creative and innovate. Play sometimes - find simple joys and smile. Sing your heart out if you feel like it. And make the most out of your remaining days.
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life. Be happy. It’s all that matters.”
- Audrey Hepburn
2. Don’t forget to beautify.
Keep yourself in shape. And if you are happy, you will radiate beauty no matter how much you age. It does not have to be expensive – you just have to be expressive. Everyone possesses exquisite qualities that can allure even the most discriminating tastes. All it takes is a conscious effort to remain beautiful and nice inside out.
“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.”
– Ellen DeGeneres
3. Spend time with others.
Keep watering the roots of your relationships. Spend time with your significant others. Don’t always say, “I’m too old for this – I’d rather stay here alone.” Be with your children, grandchildren, and your inner circle of friends once in a while. Who knows – it may add more life to your years, and not just years to your life.
“Not everyone will appreciate the beauty of their surroundings like you do. Spend time with those that do.”
― April Mae Monterrosa
4. Acknowledge your past.
Haunted by a dark past? Let it go. Forgive if you must. Renew those bonds. It’s no use hanging on to grudges. Life is too short to wallow in misery. Your past will not define your future. Let your past be an inspiration for others to learn from.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
― Bill Keane
5. Have faith and hope in spite of pains and injuries. Rely on your faith in times of trial.
Go to church. Be more prayerful. In a 2009 study, 499 elderly persons participating in ongoing annual interviews died within the next 12 months. They examined public and subjective religious involvement and indicators of health-related and psychosocial quality of life. Results showed that more deeply religious respondents were more likely to see friends. Religious people had better self-rated health and fewer depressive feelings. They also found life more exciting compared with the less religious.
“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.”
6. Be real and authentic.
You do not have to pretend to be someone to be liked and appreciated. If you don’t have it, or if you can’t give it, admit it. If it is against your moral principles, speak kindly against it. You may ruffle a few feathers with your authenticity, but you will gain a lot of respect and positivity. Just be yourself.
-“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
– William Shakespeare
7. Don’t get addicted to vices
Alcohol, cigarettes, sweets, and gambling. Stay away from them. This is especially true if those around you start confronting you about it. If they are your significant others, they mean well. It pays to listen to them.
“The greatest temptations are not those that solicit our consent to obvious sin, but those that offer us great evils masking as the greatest goods.”
― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
8. Have regular follow-ups with your doctor. Don’t self-medicate.
Eat healthy. Get enough sleep, but don’t use sleeping pills. And visit your trusted doctor at least every six months. There is a tendency to consult others or the internet for your medical needs. Avoid this, for you would not want to jeopardize your remaining years. Let the experts work with you.
“When I tried to wash the ghosts from my head,
what I washed away was my whole life instead.”
― Preston W. Long
9. Continue your education. Work hard and persevere. Keep your brain active.
In a study done in 2018, a cohort of 3433 civil servants underwent repeated measurements of cognitive functioning up to 14 years before and 14 years after retirement. It was found that all domains of cognition declined over time. Declines in verbal memory were 38% faster after retirement compared to before, after taking account of age-related decline. Thus, we must keep challenging ourselves as we age, for a little stress does wonders for our well being.
“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Idler EL, McLaughlin J, Kasl S. Religion and the quality of life in the last year of life. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2009;64(4):528-37.
Xue B, Cadar D, Fleischmann M, et al. Effect of retirement on cognitive function: the Whitehall II cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017;33(10):989-1001.