You can grow old gracefully
On my 77th birthday party last year I said: I am old. My wife, who does not like the word “old,” suggested “elderly.” I searched for meanings and found that “old” is when you reach 65 in your compulsory retirement from employment, and that “elderly” also means being old, or past middle age.
In other words, their difference is not very clear and they are almost the same: Their similarity is in that the number of your years on earth is counting against your life time.
But we must not consider growing old a problem. Richard de Meath wrote that it is possible to remain happy as we grow older, to hold onto the freshness that gives youth its glow, to live without fear of growing old and helpless, and to make the most of the passing years.
I agree that there is no reason to worry about getting older; it is a reality and we cannot stop it. Thus, the advice of people with experience is to grow old gracefully.
My first advice is to not change your lifestyle; it’s too late and not easy to change. Continue doing what you did when you were not yet old. If you change drastically, it can be catastrophic.
My lifestyle as a youngster, a student, and a professional involved outdoor activities. Upon my retirement, I changed my lifestyle to sedentary and it was a disaster: I became sick and unhappy, I went into depression, and almost killed myself.
As a consequence I was forced to go back to engaging in outdoor activities. This time, what I can afford physically and financially are brisk walking and gardening.
These activities are good for the elderly. One does not need to spend much to do brisk walking. And in gardening, I am just a little lucky to have acquired a little farm before my retirement. But you do not need a farm to do gardening. You need just a little space in your backyard. If your space is limited, you can do potted planting or aerial gardening. The culture of orchids is enjoyable and a moneymaker.
My second advice is to do something you will enjoy. This will depend on what hobbies you have developed in your younger days. For example, if your hobby is a bit sedentary, mix it with periodic exercise — that is, after a few minutes of working, you can do body stretching or bending, or you can scrub the floor. Others enjoy cooking, hand embroidery, or cross-stitching.
Aside from enjoying your old hobbies, they can be moneymakers, too. In my case, I liked playing guitar and writing stories when I was young. Thus, I now play my guitar to cast away boredom and work on my computer four days of the week to write dissertations for a fee.
But take note that the selection of your activities is dependent on your financial capability and physical ability. Thus, choose an activity that fits your condition. In old age, your principle should be “work to enjoy.”
My third advice is to live life to the fullest. Take part in family activities such as Sunday visits to the beach or ballroom dancing. They are not only ways of relaxation but are also good for your health — for example, to ease your arthritis.
Join family visits to spiritual or scenic spots, or other outdoor activities; they are equally enjoyable and satisfying. In my case, I have joined my family in visits to Chocolate Hills and Fatima Hill of the Virgin Mother, both in Carmen, Bohol, as well as Calvary Hills in Tacloban City. I have chosen these places for reasons of affordability and proximity.
But let me summarize how to live life to the fullest in a few words: Do not think of the past or the future. Adopt the “here and now” concept of life. Be content with what you have and enjoy what you are doing now. Don’t ask for more because you have been given what’s enough for you.
Somebody said: “If you do not get what you like, you have to like what you get.” In fact, a person should be happy and grateful that he or she has reached old age. Many never had the chance.
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Arsenio Unajan Baquilid is a government retiree and the head writer of Dissertation Writing Helpmate.
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