Thursday, 17 April 2008

How to Have a Happy Old Age

Being in the thick of all this elderly life business has made me realize a few things. One is that while people may plan financially for retirement, they don't make any plans for old age. They don't think about the day they won't be able to go on the golf course or go fishing or go anywhere. Then when that day comes they suddenly are old, very old.

So I plan to think about that day and what I can do in the meantime to put that day off and what I'll do when that day comes. Here are my tips to stave off old age:

1. Start doing pilates and/or yoga as soon as possible. These help keep your joints pliable and muscles strong. They will help in later life to prevent falls by strengthening your core muscles. I've been doing pilates once a week for six years. I'm going to bump that up to daily, if possible. Just a few exercises. And a yoga class too.

2. Change your diet if your diet is the typical western diet. Eat as many fruit and vegetables as you can stand. Eat wholemeal bread. Get more fiber in that intestinal tract so you don't have to suffer a colonoscopy when you're older.

3. Come up with alternative interests when you no longer can have an active life. No more fishing or golfing? Try reading or needlework or something to keep your brain engaged while your body is at rest.

4. But be as active as you can be while you can be. If you're a couch potato now, change. Start walking a little bit every day. It makes a difference, believe me. Celebrate the fact that you can walk because if you don't do it now, that day you can't get out of the chair or out of bed will come even sooner.

5. Try to maintain social contacts and make new ones. Just sitting in a chair all day watching TV or sleeping is boring and lonely and will lead directly to depression, do not pass GO.

6. At some point you may lose your dignity because you can no longer bathe yourself or are incontinent. This is no reason for you to wear the same clothes day after day, especially you men. Swallow your pride, get help with your bathing, but also maintain some pride in how you look and smell.

7. Budget for higher heating bills and the costs of having outside help for cleaning, etc. Old people lose their body heat more readily and have more difficulty moving around to get warm.

8. Make sure your car is old person-friendly. It should have a handle to grab onto, be easy to get in and out of or as easy as possible. Think about getting a step or running board if it's too high off the ground.

9. Get a pet -- a cat or dog. They can be your best friend and comforter. They can ease the stress of getting old.

10. Don't be resistant to using aids for getting around. A walker (zimmer frame) is better than hanging onto furniture or falling down. Think about your needs realistically. Can't do stairs anymore? Get a ramp or Stannah stairlift. Don't hesitate to ask for help, but make sure you ask the right people for help. And keep asking till you get what you need. Too many elderly people are too passive about their needs. It's your life, and you want what's left of it to be as happy as possible.

Some of this is too late for my mother unfortunately. But maybe it can help the rest of us.


Shania said...

Wise words. Thanks for sharing.

Flowerpot said...

good advice wakeup. I would also reiterate the need to keep your brain as active as possible. Keep as many interests as you can and meet people when you can. that will also help, and apparently music is one of the best ways to keep our brains busy and young.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I just read your post on the step sister. Heartless wagon of a woman. You must be worried sick about what will happen after you leave. I hope you get social services help at least to ease the burden. They at least may show some decency and care towards your step father. Dear God, families are just too bloody selfish when it comes to taking responsibility for eldery parents.

You are going to have a tough time of this when you leave to come home. Take care on your drive back for you will no doubt be preoccupied a great deal.

Take care of yourself too - you are no doubt going to be very emotional over this. Just maybe if you get social care then these people can shame your sil's to take a more caring and active role.

It can be hard working together with families but even worse with extended family members.

All the best.

Mean Mom said...

Excellent advice! I agree wholeheartedly and also with flowerpot about keeping the brain active.

Expatmum said...

From family experience I would also beg everyone to consider wearing an alert thing round the neck when you become unsteady on your pins. What my family learned not too long ago is that if someone is left lying on the floor alone for too long (even if there are no broken bones) it can start off kidney problems which can become very dangerous.

Beckie said...

Great List!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Thanks everyone. Flowerpot is right. Keep your brain active. Blogging is a great way. I also am addicted to Sudoku and my mother does a crossword puzzle daily.

MOB, I just might be celebrating getting out of here as I drive back. I'm beginning to think like an old person.

expatmum: Interesting you should mention kidney problems. My stepfather had a fall in the bathroom while my mother was in the hospital and lay there for quite a few hours before he was discovered. He has one of those alarms but couldn't reach it. One of the doctor's questions when I finally took my stepfather after another fall was did he have kidney problems.

Beth Skove, Publisher said...

great thoughts. Having gone through the death of an elderly in-law, I thoroughly agree. I think you left out - Make sure you have a will, and a living will AND that someone knows where it is. AND that someone knows where your insurance, investment, and bank account information is.

Beth Skove, Publisher said...

part two - AND that if anything happens and you are incapacitated, make sure someone knows your desires.
As you said earlier, it's hell to get old. But we can all plan for the best, eat our fruits and veggies, and hope to get along better than our parents did. I hope to anyway.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

beth: Of course, the will. I've argued with my mother for years about her need to have one. She won't budge. Why do people have something against wills?

Beth Skove, Publisher said...

wills mean you have to accept that you will die some day. My father-in-law (brilliant planner....)
had a will, but left his life insurance lapse. Therefore, when he died, his widow got to charge his funeral expenses.
a dozen roses: $39.99
a get well card: $3.99
a funeral: priceless...
for everything else there's mastercard.
don't let it happen to you,(no will) because it Suc%s!

Career Guy said...

Hey, I resemble that remark!--Number 6, about wearing the same clothes all the time. Guilty. Even my grandson remarked on my shirt that I wore all winter. I fixed him, though. One day I walked into the room topless and said, "How do you like my new shirt?" He was baffled.

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guanfoo said...

It is great. It helps me a lot. Kindly do advise as my mum right leg bent right to left 15 degree. She limps bit by bit when walking. What is your advise on her? I did bring her to see specialist in Penang. Specialist advised her to operate and replace the right kneecap with a steel joint. My mum initially agreed but later refused to. Kindly advise??? Thank you.