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Growing Old Gracefully

Updated on February 15, 2018

The simple things...

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Whatever happened to the idea of growing old gracefully? Why do we fight against the inevitable? What do we have to gain, except perhaps an ulcer? We stress and fuss about staying young, looking like we did at twenty, hiding all the gray hair, and taking whatever pills necessary to mask our aches and pains. Where, in all of this, do we actually enjoy the present, or appreciate life as it is?

I, for one, want to grow old gracefully, which means I will grow old! There, I’ve said it...I’m going to get old. I’m already halfway there! What an achievement really, don’t you think? I’ve survived many of life’s twists and turns and learned some wisdom along the way. I’ve got the gray hair to prove it.

This does not mean that I want to neglect my responsibility to try to live in such a way that growing old will be a more pleasant experience. I breathe so my body has the oxygen it needs to function properly. I try to eat the right foods that will keep me as healthy as possible. I get as much exercise as I am able. And, I use my mind in as many ways as possible to keep it from slipping away into senility. At least I hope the last part is true!

I hear from a lot of people who are working too much, that they have no time for their spouse, children, grandchildren, personal interests, or their health. They long for the day when they can retire so they will have time to do all these things. Why wait? None of us can guarantee that we’ll even make it to retirement (and in all likelihood, if we continue the way we are, we won’t.) What is the point in missing out on all these things now when we don’t even know if we’ll ever get the chance to do any of it later. We won’t actually—the moments with our family, going on that trip, spending time with friends, pursuing a hobby—these moments, the ones today, we’ll never get a chance to live again.

Have you ever stopped to think that all our frenzied activity while we’re younger is focused on getting old--either preparing for retirement (saving, planning, investing, etc.), or avoiding the idea of getting old (anti-aging products, plastic surgery, excessive exercise, etc.) Yes, we need to be wise in the way we plan for our future and we need to take care of ourselves, but if that is our only focus we truly do miss out on the life we’ve been given now.

I believe growing old gracefully is taking time to smell the roses. Take time to appreciate the air you breathe--breathe in deeply and exhale all the toxins of the day’s stress. Take a walk in the park and talk to the ducks--you might look crazy but the ducks will thank you! Go for coffee with a friend and actually take the time to listen--you’ll hear their heart-words and it will make a difference. Spend extra time with your spouse and find ways to make them laugh--that secret moment will be a wonderful memory shared by only the two of you. In and of themselves, these things don’t take a lot of time. It is up to us to choose how we want to make our life worthwhile.

I want to look back on my life and know that people have had a better experience in life because of me. Am I the kind of person that people want to forget, or are happy to remember? Am I making the choices now that will make me a pleasant person when I get old, or will I end up being miserable? The choices we make now will make a difference when we get old. So, what are those choices? If our focus is only financial, we may end up rich and lonely. If our focus is only our body, we will be sadly disgruntled when arthritis sets in and walking gets difficult. If we focus on our attitude, we will be able to grow old gracefully and have a great time doing it! Did I say that perhaps the most important thing to foster is a sense of humor? Well, it is...laughter does good, like a medicine. We need to learn how to laugh at ourselves, at life, and not let getting old get us down.

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© 2010 Flo Belanger

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    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Dale Michaels...I'm glad this was helpful for you. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Dale Michaels profile image

      Dale Michaels 

      7 years ago from Guangzhou, China

      Great post, at 50, it's just what I need, thanks FloBe.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Petra...you're right, we can learn from those cultures who respect and honor their elderly. I used to sit at the feet of my grandpa and listen to his stories. I'm so glad I took the time to learn about his life.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great way of looking at the inevitable with such a realistic attitude, especially in a society where getting old is a sin (as opposed to other cultures where getting old is being respected and in a certain way, celebrated)

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      prasetio30...I think as we get older we appreciate the value of life more than when we are young. Why it takes us so long to figure it out, I'm not sure. Perhaps we have to have experienced some "losses" in life to appreciate what we really do have.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Beautiful, my friend. I love this hub so much. We can appreciated our life more than before. Good work. Rating Up.

      Prasetio

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      De Greek...thank you for stopping by to read this article. Appreciate your encouragement. Have a wonderful day!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      7 years ago from UK

      What a wonderfully apt article about growing old. I fully agree with everything you have said and I applaud your spirit. Well done :-)

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Ictodd1947...thanks for stopping by. I know that getting older sometimes catches us by surprise. I remember my uncle saying that one time he looked in the mirror and was shocked to see his father staring back at him. Then he realized that he was now as old as his father was as he remembered him! It was quite the surprise :) But sometimes we just don't feel as old as we are!

    • lctodd1947 profile image

      lctodd1947 

      7 years ago from USA

      Flobe, thank you so much for publishing this much needed emphasis on growing old. I find it hard to believe that I am as old as I am. I do not like the pounds that automatically come with being older but I try to keep them off and I would not want to go back and try to repeat anything. Thanks again.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      daydreamer13...glad you could relate...thanks for stopping by

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      James...nice to see you again. Hope you're doing well.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this lovely and needful message. I am with you.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Pamela99...I just wanted to encourage everyone to make the most out of life while they have it. A friend of mine's sister died this last year just as she was beginning to enjoy the beginnings of retirement and I see that happening too often. So yes, we need the reminder to make the most out of life while we have it! :)

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 

      7 years ago

      Good message here. Bravo.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      FloBe, That is a wonderful attitude and the best way to live, joyful and free.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      exjwlaurie...thanks for your comment. Changing our attitude is sometimes the most difficult thing to do, which is perhaps why we find other things to focus on instead.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Good one, DaveP! Oh to find the balance of living life to the full and accepting the stages along the way :) It doesn't mean we can't get the most out of it that's for sure! haha

    • DavePrice profile image

      DavePrice 

      7 years ago from Sugar Grove, Ill

      A wonderful treatise which can only be fully appreciated from our "older" perspective - I shall flee old age with every ounce of my might and refuse surrender to the end - or at least pretend like I do.

    • profile image

      exjwlaurie 

      7 years ago

      You are so right FloBe--it IS all about our attitude, and I love yours!

      Nicely said, thanks for this life-affirming hub!

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      haha, a good sense of humor will keep you young TroyM...thanks for stopping by :)

    • TroyM profile image

      TroyM 

      7 years ago

      Darn, I just teamed up with Avon, selling again, for their 60+ fountain of youth type prods :) Just kidding, but I do love wrinkle remover goodies. Good info here!

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      onegoodwoman, I think we've been found out ;) As I was saying, the wisdom of a few gray hairs :)

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 

      7 years ago from A small southern town

      How Refreshing!

      You know " they " will say, we must be old in order to think like this, don't you?

      Thanks ok, I say, " gather around children, gather around, I have a Tale to tell".

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