Seniors: Secrets of a Long and Happy Life

Oct 9th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

An octogenerian was asked by a reporter, “to what he attributed his old age.” His reply: “to having been born so long ago.”

Ah, were it so simple.  Yet, I posed the same question to my 90 year old mother the other day and her answer was as profound, “I really don’t know.”  My father in law who is 94, professes that hard work, a good life, a good home and his four daughters have been his influences.

So from where does the influence come of being able to not only sustain life for so many years, but to have one that is worth “hanging around” for? 

Studies, interviews of older persons, experiments and tests that are run to determine what keeps us going have not yet quite put together the ingredients of the fabled fountain of youth. Practical and regular observations of persons who do well in their older years is one very good way to discover the things that work for them. 

Usually, of course, there must be some DNA at work that contributes to their longevity.  Beyond that, however, very much like a sterling tea service, polishing and regular care are required.  Most older persons I observe seem to remain pleasant in attitude and disposition.  They enjoy every day.  They smile a lot.  They ask questions.  They show interest. They keep as active as mind and body allow and push the mind and body to do so when reluctance is otherwise demonstrated.

Although there are certain disadvantages to living in a facility for the aging, there are some distinct pluses.  The disadvantages have to do with diet, particularly.  Not to put it lightly, but it is much like being in a hospital or a college dorm where cafeteria meals are the norm.  The taste, texture and style of cooking frequently do not serve the resident well.  This lends itself to a lack of a good dietary regimen.  How this is dealt with depends both on the institution and the family in conversation. 

Advantages include social interaction and involvement in activity on a routine basis.  Not taking advantage of such opportunities is a matter of choice, but usually is a bad choice.  Keeping the mind sharp and the body moving have long been counsel and advice for maintaining good health.

Watching television is not the same as social interaction.  Finding someone to visit with or inviting persons to stop by are more to the benefit of an aging person.  The solitary habit of watching television can atrophy the person’s mind, body and spirit.  Finding means to avoid the television routine will work to the advantage of the individual. 

A long and happy life is finally a series of choices.  Enabling those choices, encouraging an environment in which those choices are plentiful, and reinforcing and rewarding those choices keep individuals who are aging in a good place.  We all would do well to become alert and acquainted with these principles, no matter our age.



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