While I have always enjoyed spending time with adults who are older than I am, owning a business that supports our aging population has made me think about how we live our lives … at any age.
Personalities don’t change. As we get to know each new client, I enjoy talking to the adult children and other relatives. The observations I share about their parents’ habits, mannerisms, and temperment are never a surprise to family members. They tell me, “She’s always been like that.” For the most part, if we’re funny or happy or cranky at 90, we most likely were funny or happy or cranky at 30. LESSON: Learn to appreciate (and deal with) people as they are. They aren’t likely to change.
The difference is pain. People of all ages have afflictions and diseases, but those who have pain suffer the lowest quality of life. Pain changes who you are and requires that you have tremendous mental fortitude to stay positive and engaged in life. LESSON: Even if you have numbness, tremors, or incontinence, thank God if you don’t have pain.
Men definitely do their share. When a daughter/wife/sister complains that a son/husband/brother doesn’t pull his weight in the family, they are surprised when I tell them it’s not typical. I don’t know if it’s central Ohio or this wonderful generation of people, but I talk to sons, husbands, and brothers all week, every week, who are making sure their parents or spouses are well-cared-for. They share in every part of their lives and rarely complain … unless there is a sister who isn’t pulling her weight. LESSON: Women don’t have the market cornered on caregiving.
Exercise is everything. Without leg strength, arm strength, and balance, options are extremely limited. When it becomes tough to get up from a chair, stand for any length of time, or walk down the aisles of a grocery store, life changes. LESSON: Walk. Do leg lifts when watching TV. Curl soup cans while sitting on your front porch. Just do something.
Stay connected. The youngest older adults are those who don’t lose touch with the world. If you like people, there are plenty of places to play bridge or attend Bible study. If you aren’t overly social, stay connected by reading the daily paper, cruising the Internet, visiting a museum, or taking a ride around town to see the progress. LESSON: Only if you know what’s beyond your four walls will you want to be part of it.