Until recently, no one really taught us how to age well. However, we all know that the aging process catches up with you. Whether it’s with ease or with significant health issues we are learning today that good health and habits ensure independence, security, and productivity as we age.
I have been thinking about this lately given this was the year of the big 6-0 and how I want my remaining years to feel. In addition, I have always had was a wonderful role model. That person happens to be my mom who’s still rockin’ it each and every day!
My mother has always been a very active individual. A classically trained opera singer, her body really has been her temple. As I small child I can remember her exercising to Jack LaLanne several times a week. I, too, would lay on my towel contorting my body into whatever Jack was telling us to do. Over the years, Mom has done yoga, line dancing, and all kinds of exercise classes just to keep in shape.
Mom also has eaten well. We never had a lot of fried fatty foods growing up. We would walk to Wetson’s, a McDonald’s type hamburger joint, in the summer to get a cheeseburger and fries. It was a treat, not a way of life. Instead, Mom introduced us to wheat germ, tofu, and fresh vegetables on a regular basis. She was always trying some “healthy” recipe for dinner. I must admit, it was not always as successful to our palate as she would have liked, but she made sure that our diet was healthy and nutritious!
Mom is committed to her faith and is involved in the church. She has sung in many choirs, participated in bible study, and served on various committees throughout her time … and she still does. She made sure we were in summer bible camp, Sunday school and later involved in youth programs. Mom has always been a dedicated Christian woman who believes that one’s spirit receives its nourishment from God and the church.
Lastly, my mom likes to volunteer and has done so through church or other organizations. From girl/boy scouting to making costumes for theatrical shows, she always demonstrated the importance of service to others and of giving back. Mom always talked to us about the value in contributing and in “…helping others in an organization or the community. Not what it can necessarily do for you!”
This month I celebrated my mother’s 89th birthday. It has been her belief that when you provide the right nourishment for your “temple” through healthy eating, exercise, and a higher power, then you are living your life and being a healthy you. And I believe this to be true. I have watched my mom age gracefully over the years. She still takes an exercise and yoga class and eats well. And she’s still hitting those high notes in the church choir where she belongs. And today, she volunteers at FiftyForward Knowles as a Volunteer Ambassador and is loving what she’s doing.
I now understand the importance and value of regular physical exercise as it helps maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones. Being socially engaged is also critical whether it is with close friends, family, or other social networking opportunities. How connected you are with others helps keep you active, happy, and keeps one from being and feeling socially isolated. Eating right is also key to keeping our body strong and brain and heart-healthy. All the research conducted supports that for most older adults, how we care for ourselves will affect our mind, body, and spirit.
I don’t know if Mom set out thinking “I’m going to take care of myself now, so I’ll age healthily” but I’m glad she did as she has demystified aging because of how she has taken care of herself. The result is that she still lives independently and enjoys life. I have now come to realize that she taught me something quite invaluable in the process. Perhaps in the past, I have not always been as attentive as I should have, but I am listening now and I’m working to ensure that my daughter is doing the same.