I have a birthday coming up in a few days: 49. It's one year away from my intended half way mark.
I don't know about you but I'm terrified of getting old. Possibly because as a child I was never around older people and as an adult the ones I've been around haven't exactly been doing it well. Oxygen tanks, frailty, falling, and a lack of physical energy don't paint an encouraging picture and that is all without the nightmare of dementia.
I've been encouraged recently by a group of women I volunteer with at the art museum (you can read more about what I'm learning from them here). . The book, Blue Zones paints a brighter picture and gets down to how to live well over a long period of time. Then I found this video comprised of 6 women bursting with interests, style, and attitude: Fabulous Fashionistas.
One of the things I'm learning from paying attention to those who are aging well is that you have to keep moving. Even if it hurts. Your body was made to move and sitting down will eventually kill you. And not in a quick and easy way. In a slow, dull, painful way...possibly over quite a long time.
The second thing is that the people who live a long time are interested AND interesting. In the video Baroness Trumpington (isn't that the best name ever?) says the secret is being "interested in life generally."
Judging from my friends at the museum, many of whom are old enough to be my parents (I get a kick out of listing to them tell stories about graduating from college the year I was born) and recent books and videos, here are the things that will keep you young:
Not smoking. I don't know any older people who are still on the move who were smokers.
Keep moving, even it means overcoming aches and pains. Sitting down, or worse yet, spending the day in bed will suck the life and energy out of you.
Do not allow yourself to get overweight. But don't do any unhealthy dieting, you'll ruin your metabolism.
Have a regular sleep schedule. I don't have evidence for this one, but I'm pretty sure you can ruin your circadian rhythm just like your metabolism.
Be interesting, which is likely to mean you are interested in lots of things, and are keen to keep learning. You should have something more interesting to share than the details of your most recent ailment. It's how you keep getting invited to parties.
Be social. Being connected is a huge key, you need a support network outside your family.
Ditch the negative attitude, grumbling, and complaining.
Refuse to be overtaken by fear.
Embrace change. Would you really want everything to stay the same?
Volunteer. The most energetic people I know are not just focused on themselves.
Plan on living to be 100 and start now to adjust your life accordingly.