By Tamar Krebs
Aging may be inevitable, but that doesn’t seem to make it any the more palatable for the vast majority of western civilization – we fight it every step of the way. There is, however, another way. It may sound crazy – and it is most definitely contentious – but how about embracing aging and accepting it as a welcomed part of your life cycle?
The vast majority of us spend more time planning what to have for dinner than we do planning for what we will do as we age beyond that magic goal of retirement.
When you have spent your superannuation lump sum on a couple of cruises, spoiling your grandchildren and golf memberships, what will you do when you are no longer able to make it to the 18th hold or pick up your grandchildren from day care? The subject may be taboo, but planning for this stage of our life is just as important as planning for retirement. Maybe you assume you will die in your sleep or that you will be so old you won’t care. Having worked with thousands of individuals at this stage of life over the past 20 years, I can assure you, you will care.
Exercise your brain
You have made it to the pinnacle of your career; you are the wisest and most experienced person in your organization, and what do you do? You retire. Don’t do it! Stay involved! You are a huge asset to the business – keep up-to-date with industry trends and technology and move into a part-time mentor or consultant role. Once you retire, you will be looking for things to do. By mentoring or consulting you will have the best of both worlds. You may even enjoy it!
Exercise your social skills
One of the biggest diseases of aging is becoming irrelevant. It is essential that you build a network around you of like-minded people. Join any club, non-profit organization or community group that you can be involved in, and build those friendships. Humans are social creatures, and the need to be social does not dissipate with age.
Exercise your jaw
The old adage of “you are what you eat” is so very true as you age. You need to keep that brain hydrated, so no matter how dull a glass of water may seem, have one and then treat yourself to another. Try and reduce your hot chip habit – a 209 Cambridge University study found that high-fat dies made rats slower AND dumber. Sadly, sger is also in the “best avoided” camp. Instead, chomp your way through a diet consisting of wholefoods – plenty of fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, nuts, oily fish, blueberries, tomatoes, eggs, healthy fats, such as olive oil and avocado, sage, broccoli and pumpkin seeds have all been found to boos brain health and memory.
Exercise your inner designer
Hoarding is officially bad for your aging health. As you clutter your environment, you are creating more obstacles to navigate and potential hazards that might cause you to trip. Try and hang your favourite rug on the wall, as opposed to displaying it on the floor, or look at implanting soft flooring within your floorboards so that there are no exposed edges.
Research shows that the number one place where there is a risk of falling is the bathroom. These falls often lead to hip fractures and head injuries. Help prevent potential falls by installing hand rails, hobless showers and slip resistant flooring. You might even want to consider an emergency call bell system.
Lighting is an interior designer’s favourite friend, and it should also be yours. However, relying solely on the romantic dim glow of a wall light will not be practical as you grow older. As you age, your eyesight will deteriorate and you will need better lighting to navigate your home, particularly any stairs.
Having the last word
Aging is both inevitable and normal. Plan for aging with enthusiasm and this will enable you to make the most out of your final years, without being a burden to your family.
“Do not regret getting older. It’s a privilege denied to many.”
About the author
Tamar Krebs is the founder and CEO of Group Homes Australia. She has worked in the aged and dementia care industry for 18 years, both in Australia and internationally. She is recognizsed as a specialist in both Behaviour Management and Aged Care, and offers consultancies to various aged care providers.