Getting older is inevitable. Each minute, day, and year, we are all growing older chronologically. Yet many people do not physically age at the same rate as their chronological age. Some experience relatively rapid declines in physical and cognitive functioning as they grow older, while others experience significantly less pronounced changes.
Why is this? It’s easy to say that people who age more successfully are blessed with great genes. And while that’s true up to a point – about 30 percent – genetics don’t account for all of our successful aging fortune. Much of how we age is based on our lifestyle factors.
We decide how we want to live each minute, day, and year. By choosing to focus on things that are good for our health and make us feel joy, our chronological age becomes irrelevant; we don’t expect to experience decline just because we have reached a certain age. What becomes important is our ability to live in the present, focusing on how we spend our time and what brings us joy, while celebrating what we have accomplished and triumphed over.
Successful aging involves changing the conversation about what aging means, and believing that we can overcome life’s adversities. When we believe ourselves to be strong and vital, and take action to remain that way, we are more likely to continue to be strong. We become what we believe.
Before joining the team at Acacia Creek, I worked at the Masonic Homes, which has a similar ethos surrounding the importance of healthy aging. Here is some wisdom that those residents provided me:
“I don’t think about how old I am; I just continue to think about the things I like to do and I keep doing them. Keep interacting with other people, participating in the activities you enjoy, and doing things you need to do. It’s all a matter of your attitude: Don’t accept birthdays as limitations, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are too old to do something.” – Oma Bruch
“Approach each day with a smile and attitude of ‘I’ve got something to learn today,’ even if you don’t feel like you know what to learn anymore. Set your mind to be present in the moment before you; this will make you more attentive. Most of the time we aren’t in the moment – it’s only when we realize we are daydreaming that we become attentive. And, I always try to have a smile. Remember: Smiling is the answer!” – John Mason
“There’s no doubt that each of us has but a limited time before we die. But until then, I prefer to wear out instead of rust out. There is still much to accomplish and many ways to serve. And besides, it’s more fun.” – Jim McLeod
I hope these words will inspire your aging journey as they have mine!
— Penny Vittoria, Successful Aging Coach