June 01, 2016
This article was shared with permission from Forbes as part of an empowerment campaign, “Wear Yourself In,” led by eco-luxe skin care company Kari Gran. In response to the beauty industry pushing an impossible idea of flawless youth for years, the campaign encourages women to be kind to themselves, and their skin, as they reflect on beauty, aging, wisdom, and self-acceptance.
Imagine the memories a 93-year-old and a 95-year-old pair of friends have to share. Apparently, decades of fun times can be relived for quite awhile when they get together. My husband, Mikol and I dropped off his Mom, Alice to visit a dear friend whom she had not seen for a long time and the ladies reminisced, laughed and talked for four hours straight.
Her friend Julie is 95. When we picked up Alice, I was amazed at both of them! First of all, Julie is still sharp at 95, as is Alice with no sign of memory problems in either of them. That being remarkable in itself, Julie looks amazing too. She stands straight and walks confidently, unassisted in her high heeled pumps. She wears a becoming pair of slacks and a sweater, full makeup, nails done and nice jewelry. This is not one's usual image of what 95 is supposed to be like. She says she is the only one of the same age in her senior community who can still walk.
"What's your secret?" I ask. She smiles and says she has always been conscious of health. Her weight is normal, she doesn't smoke and she says she eats a good diet and walks as much as she can. "I've always walked a lot," she tells me. She and Alice concur on that as Alice was a daily walker too, until her knees basically gave out. Now Alice gets her exercise in a daily pool routine. And she looks terrific too.
Julie says she attends exercise classes at the seniors' community where she lives 5 times a week. "Mostly it's in a chair," she tells us: chair yoga, exercise sitting and stretching from a chair and movement class. She is quite relentless about this. She allows as how it's getting harder lately as she tires more quickly. "I went shopping with my son the other day and I was dead tired just from that. When I was younger, like in my 80s it wasn't so bad. But that 90? That 90 will get you."
She socializes. She stays engaged with her neighbors and friends. This seems to be a part of what makes her a lively person as well. She has a bright, spotless and pleasantly furnished condo with a view, and sunlight streaming in the windows. Perhaps a cheerful atmosphere and lovely place to live also help. She is not a woman of wealth, but says that her son takes care of her and manages her finances. She does not seem to worry about money as her son sees her often and attends to whatever she needs. She looks exceptionally fortunate to me. From the stories I hear at AgingParents.com about families at war over money and support of aging loved ones, many are not so blessed as Julie. Although Julie did not identify all the things that make her a healthy and attractive 95, I can pick out a top five from hearing her and seeing what she does.
1. Walk a lot. Exercise daily even if you sit in a chair doing it. Make it a habit and a routine you do not skip.
2. Socialize. Be sure to stay connected with neighbors and friends every day.
3. Keep up your grooming and appearance. Take pride in looking nice when you see a friend or go out.
4. Stay health conscious with good diet, no smoking and keeping your weight in check.
5. Let your kids help you. A capable adult child helping Julie frees her from worry and stress.
Although her situation may not be 100% possible for everyone, the key things she does to maintain her health are things most everyone can do. I love learning from elders who have maintained healthy lifestyles for such a long time. Julie is proof that this works. I'll bet a lot of us want to be like her at that age.
Get more inspiration from Carolyn at her site, AgingParents.com.