Age in Motion No2
11 May 2015
It is truly not misplaced to mourn the loss of youth and beauty. But there are tricks to anticipate and accept the changes, and then creatively find meaningful activities that will keep us ‘alive’ and well – inside and outside!
In the late nineties I studied every piece of information I could about the Nuns of Minnesota. The study was fascinating. They lived to be a healthy and sane 89+ and the following activities were part of their weekly program:
Brain exercises, daily physical exercises such as gardening, dancing and stretching, journal writing (including letters to members of the US Congress and Statesmen), attending seminars on current events and development, taking part in radio talks and events in the area, commenting on issues raised on air and staying ‘alive’ spiritually.
I will write more about these nuns in future blogs, but the most important information to remember for today, is the fact that they were encouraged to rotate their duties and never get into stagnation. One of their favourite quotations was: ‘An idle mind is the devil’s plaything’.
Many articles today, although they promote PRO-Ageing, still mention words like sagging, turkey neck, and crow’s feet – and often those are the words that the brain remembers! We see new Retirement Villages being built with huge billboards next to the site, saying ‘Frail Care and Alzheimer facilities included’. And I wonder: ‘Are we really able to get away from all the negative images and messages being exposed to us in our growing older journey?’
In July 2005 I attended a Creativity Conference in Minnesota, USA. The choices of the daily break-away sessions were vast, but I decided to attend and participate in Dr Dale Anderson’s workshop, titled: ‘Never act your age’. The impact of the workshop and the content left me fascinated and inspired to read and learn more about ‘growing older’.
On my return, I started to communicate with him and also read and studied more about his philosophy on growing older. The growing older journey is a part of all our lives, and studying about it can only benefit me. I started to notice so many things, strange and different things about senior people and it made me wonder: ‘Why do some older people age better and stay more youthful than others? Is there perhaps something we need to know in order to age better?’
So the researcher in me got a fresh wake-up call and Iinvited a few senior persons over 80 to apply a number of Dr Dale’s suggestions, and I tried some myself!
My observation skills also got a kick in the butt and I observed older people wherever I went – even the dear ones where my mother stayed were ‘watched’ with alertness and a sharper focus! I didn’t feel guilty about this ‘silent mission’ I was in because I have a sincere love and compassion for old people, especially those who are lonely and in pain.
I came to a serious conclusion: ‘There has to be a way of more effective ageing – and perhaps it is not the right thing to tell this to the ones who are already in their eighties. Perhaps the ones in their 40’s and 50’s are the ones who need to know this!’
One things stands: We are all getting older every day.
How we think about ageing is a very serious matter.
Picture above taken when I took Lily and Claudi for a morning in the Country Side (HartebeesPoort Dam Cable Ride) two years ago.