This is a photo of my Aunt Helen from years ago. She died at the age of 92. Today would have been her birthday. Her senior lifestyle was an inspiration to me now that I am older.
She was always going somewhere and staying active. Until about 12 years before her death, she danced with a senior action group. She could fox trot square dance, and samba with the best of them.
After healing from an automobile accident that fractured her pelvis in several places Aunt Helen was placed in an assisted living home to recover. She eventually regained some of her ability to dance and declared proudly that there weren’t any men there who could keep up with her!
Although Aunt Helen sank into dementia, she still had a wickedly funny sense of humor which peeked out on her good days. For example: On one birthday she was eating her birthday cupcake with a fork. My sister reminded her that she could eat her birthday cupcake with her fingers. Aunt Helen replied, “But I don’t eat my fingers.” Then she paused, watching for the effect of her comment.
If I can still enjoy my life by bringing wisdom, humor, joy or love into someone’s life, then I won’t mind being old. The following are things that may help brighten your retirement days.
1. Nifty pill boxes that help us keep track of what day it is every morning. (Some even have morning, afternoon and evening slots so we can see what day of the week it is three different times! How thoughtful!)
2. Starting our second childhood by truly being ourselves and enjoying life like we haven’t since we became preteens, when teen angst started along with the hormones! (My first childhood never ended. After all, why end one childhood and start another later when we just got the first one going well? Just don’t stop the first childhood! Sure grow up, but keep your inner child alive.)
3. The wisdom we gained from years of experience and the funny looks on our grown kids’ faces when we feel we need to share it with them. (Enjoy those brief moments before they realize what’s coming and then wander off into their minds or another room to stop the boredom of hearing it all again.)
4. Making our kids wonder if we are still “all there” by saying we are going to do things we normally wouldn’t do. I got my ears pierced for the first time at the age of 59. I wickedly told my second son, “I am loving having pierced ears so much that I am thinking about getting something else pierced!”
After we hung up he called my oldest son, “Do you think Mom is really going to get more piercings?” Son number 1 said, “NAH. She wouldn’t do that.” Then son number 1 called me to be sure!! (An explanation here: Number 1 son commented when I excitedly told him I was going to get my ears pierced, “Gee, you should go on the show, ‘Moms Gone Wild’.” (Smart alec, young man! LOL!)
5. AARP and Senior Discounts (especially Baskin Robbin, Dairy Queen and the movie theaters!)
6. Knowing that when we get old, we can bore our kids with the stories from our childhood with relatives they never knew, over and over again.
7. Learning about interesting historical facts and stories that we didn’t care about until we lived through them! You know what I am talking about! How many of you did not enjoy history in school? Now how many of you are watching documentaries about history and saying, “I remember that! I was there!”??
8. Reading all the books and watching all the movies we missed when we didn’t have time during our earlier years. I saved many of my favorite VHS tapes for later when I had more time to watch them. Yes, I bought a VHS player just for them from a thrift store!) Unfortunately I had to throw out most of the VHS tapes because they were taking up space on my shelves.
But then lo and behold DVDs came out, then Amazon, Netflix and all the other apps!! Okay, so now I collect DVDs of the movies I didn’t get to see or loved. What will they think of next?
9. Going to visit our kids’ homes for holidays and not having to rush around trying to clean up our homes for guests. Also not having to prepare a meal for them, when I hardly ever cook now. Not that I mind it but I am not as young nor am I as good a cook as I used to be. But still there lurks the desire to feed my children!!
10. Thinking how good it feels to be alive and being thankful for every functioning sense and body part we have that still works and isn’t arthritic! Pause when taking a walk and just listen, look, smell all of the wonders missed due to work’s, children’s and aging parent’s schedules. This is your time to slow down enough to live with all of your senses wide open to receive the wonders around you!
I realize many seniors have to work still and some may be having a hard time with their health. But that means it is even more important to find joy in the little things while you can.