Aging With Grace and Dignity

Here are 7 keys to a long, healthy life.          

Another year has come and gone, but with it have come memories, and an appreciation for the opportunity to live, grow and spend time with loved ones.

Growing older can bring challenges. Often, we are not prepared for the natural progression of aging. Eric Shapira, DDS, in his book entitled A New Wrinkle, stated: “(Aging) is a subtle experience for some, but for others it can happen in an instant and is more of a shock. So how do we define aging? How do we adapt to it? How do we embrace this transition with love and acceptance to make the change with grace and dignity? How do we make this the most exciting and rewarding time in our lives?”

“Whether you’re ready for this next stage in life or not, there are ways to handle new challenges. Grace is the ability to accept things in a manner that is calm, considerate, loving, and reflective. Dignity is one’s ability to maintain a positive sense of self—taking pride in being able to do things for ourselves and others, to stand up for ourselves, and to be independent as well.” (A New Wrinkle)

So, with all this in mind, what can one do to make this the most rewarding time of their life? According to Eric Shapira, the 7 keys to living a long, healthy life are:

  1. stimulating the mind;
  2. staying social;
  3. eating right;
  4. getting enough rest;
  5. experiencing closeness with others;
  6. remaining ambulatory; and
  7. last but not least, getting out of yourself.

Following these keys, using your talents, sharing your expertise with others, will add longevity, happiness, and satisfaction to your life.

Senior Citizen Centers, located in your community, help us accomplish many of these keys. Recently, I have been participating in what we call “Chair Volleyball” at my senior center. To play, we have six people sitting on chairs on each side of a low net. We hit a beach ball back and forth over the net following the rules and scoring used when playing volleyball. If you rise off your chair, it’s a foul and you lose the point, but the court is quite a bit smaller than regular size, so it is easier to reach. We play once a week, and we look forward to the laughter that accompanies the different things that happen as we battle to get the ball to the other side. Some people are limited in their mobility, but they find great satisfaction in taking part in the team effort, and they enjoy sharing in the teasing and joking that arises from it. One participant stated, “It’s just fun to come and laugh!” Chair Volleyball is played every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. at the Bingham County Senior Citizen’s Center in Blackfoot. Come join the fun!

Many other activities are offered at Senior Centers that might catch your interest—nutritional meals are served, exercise classes are provided, and service opportunities are available that gives us a place to get up and get out.

Seniors can take pride in their status as seasoned individuals with knowledge to share, and they can help others be successful by providing a little coaching from their perspective. One ‘seasoned’ individual noticed that her teenage grandson was not wanting to help the family by emptying the dishwasher. Instead of scolding or telling him he should help, she used her wisdom and simply said, “Do you know how much that little act of kindness can help your mom? It makes her job so much easier to be able to just load the dishes and not have to put them away first.” This helped her grandson see things differently and be more willing to help.

And that is another secret to a long and happy life—not just doing for ourselves but doing for others.

December 2021