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.