In a thrift store, I overheard one older fellow say to another, “It’s good to see you! Now that I’m in the last stage…” I was struck by both his perspicacity and willingness to address it: old age, no apologies.
Then there’s the view from youth. The other day the 23-year-old who works at my mail center was waiting on a senior woman. He’s been looking for a new place to live in our pricey area, and when I asked whether he’d made any progress, he exclaimed, “Yes! I found a room within walking distance to downtown.” Best of all, the rent was well below market. When I wondered why it was so affordable, he replied, “The owner is really old, like in his eighties…”
Ouch. I could feel the woman at the counter beginning to smolder. I touched her arm and said with a smile, “He’s very young, so eighties seems old to him.” She relaxed a bit and said, “Well, I’m 85, and I don’t consider myself ‘really old’.” We then discussed how people who own their home and have paid off their mortgage may be able to offer below-market rents to tenants. This lady has a reduced-rate rental cottage, and I commended her on her generous heart.
Awakening in Winter
The winter season is not to be taken lightly — or heavily — but with an awakened perspective on what this final act holds. Mike Dailey penned a beautiful, witty poem, And Then It Was Winter, which eloquently expresses what life as an elder is like. You may wish to share this piece with select reverse mortgage clients and prospects whom you know would enjoy such an offering.
Some additional, shareable thoughts on how to live your best life in the later decades:
Live Your Best Life in Your 60s
A site called Sixtyandme.com is for and about vibrant women who want to continue to ripen (not rot) after midlife. This article suggests some practical ways to enliven your sixties, such as:
- Love your body: Eat healthfully, exercise appropriately, and maintain your optimal weight;
- Love your money: Monitor, and if necessary, trim expenses, downsize (perhaps with a HECM for Purchase), and find new ways to earn in retirement;
- Make new friends, so you’ll have a network of social support to keep you happy and healthy;
- Accept life’s changes. Just as our bodies morphed from childhood to adolescence and then into adulthood, later life means physical shifts, no matter how much we exercise or how well we eat. If you’re doing everything right, just say ‘yes’ to how you look now. It’s normal, and it’s OK.
Live Your Best Life in Your 70s
AARP offers a panoply of advice for every older age and life stage. Here’s some wisdom specific to the seventies:
- The skinny on skin: Yes, it sags, wrinkles, and dries out more than when we were twenty. Or forty. That’s the price of longevity. But appearance is in the eye of the beholder. Cross-cultural educator Angeles Arrien once told the story of a young girl who traced her grandmother’s facial lines and said, “Grandma, you have such pretty designs on your face!” That’s a powerful redirect. So exfoliate, moisturize, ingest those antioxidants, and relax — you’re beautiful just the way you are.
- Be sensi-ible: Eyesight, hearing, smell and taste all decline with age. Be sure to get your eyes and ears checked regularly, especially if you notice a sudden change. Beyond this, be willing to utilize whatever products can support you best, from digital hearing aids to fashion-forward prescription eyewear. And if you really want to attend a rock concert — by a group who are themselves over 70 — bring earplugs!
- Stay heart-y: The best way to protect your heart as its walls thicken and valves stiffen? Keep moving. Research shows that women and men 70-plus who spent a half-hour a day doing simple movement activities like walking and dancing had a 20 to 40 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease than those did no physical activity. So dancing at the concert is grand. As long as you’re wearing flat shoes and those earplugs.
Live Your Best Life in Your 80s
- Sparkle and appreciate: Humor seems to be one of the enduring traits of octogenarians who are aging successfully, like the two Brits profiled here. Award-winning playwright and author Fay Weldon, 82 at the time of this interview, says, “There is a great relief in being ‘past it’, entitled to sit on the sidelines while young things deal with issues such as avoiding World War III and over-population of the planet.”
- Begin an 80-for-80: You may find incredible inspiration in Dynamic Aging 4 Life, a quartet of women in and approaching their 80s who discovered they could feel better by changing how they move. Like Joan Virginia Allen, who set herself the goal of walking/hiking a minimum of 80 miles each month until her 80th birthday this coming spring. That’s less than three miles a day. It’s the commitment that’s huge, says Joan.
- Relish free time. In addition to all the health, wealth and relationship counsel for those in their 60s, 70s, and beyond, those who are already at the threshold of 80 or beyond it advise older adults to simply enjoy the downtime they’ve earned — and let their creative juices flow.
Live Your Best Life in Your 90s and Beyond
- Live full-out. One of my life mentors, Louise Hay, who transitioned earlier this year just prior to her 91st birthday, was a great believer in blooming at every life stage. At 90, she wrote, “These can be the most rewarding years of your life. Know your future is always bright. See your later years becoming your treasure years.” She lived this way right up to the very end.
- Be yourself, emphatically. Like Louise, this effusive Russian 90-year-old sums it up: “I’m ninety but I feel like I’m fifty. I don’t take any medicine. I never complain. I’m just happy to be alive. I tell people: ‘Start with what you have, not with what you want.’ Every day I dance for two hours. And I’m still really interesting too. I love politics and literature. I love the sciences. And I’ve got a boyfriend named Alexander. We exchange books. I don’t even know how old he is.”
And Dorothy, who’s always wanted to perform, gets her big chance at 90 on America’s Got Talent. This video is a hilarious tribute to aging with attitude — proving it’s never too late to shine in all our effulgent glory.