Rather than counting days, old age can be a time of self-fulfillment and happiness.
Whatever the highs and lows of life be, one thing that is constant is ageing. And grappling with the changes especially later in life is a matter of thought and preparation. But to cross that bridge when you reach it is not a great idea. From the many cases I’ve seen and interacted with among senior citizens, I’d say managing one’s health, relationships and most importantly management of one’s relationship with oneself is pivotal to living happily in the latter part of life.
The way I see it, this period beyond 60 is the time to actually enjoy one’s hard work with indulgences, more so travelling and spending quality time with friends and hobbies. Which of course brings me to friendship. If you’ve not invested and created a bank balance of some true friends, this becomes a lonely landscape. That’s what I meant by planning and thought.
The second prerequisite is health, which is the most important aspect of being able to enjoy this less stressful, less frenetic period of life. If you’ve invested well in your health, your body is your ally in fructifying your dreams. Things that you said you’d do when ‘you had time’.
Well, that ‘time’ you so coveted has come when you cross 60. By all means continue your work if that makes you happy, 60 is the new 40, but allow yourself some time for the saved up dreams to start unfurling by now. Also, don’t continue to save and hoard for those that may never even understand all the things you gave up in order to save up this money. What you need is tranquility and some enjoyment now, allow yourself some space. Because while people are living longer, prevalence of lifestyle diseases is also a fact. Some alarmists even call diabetics an ‘epidemic’.
Health farms and spas with close friends is a great treat and allows for quality time with you and your homies. Physical exercise is also great when it’s well paced out and not overdone, especially in one’s seventies and eighties. All this happens ofcourse if you’ve stayed on top of the health situation and if you’ve been lax then pick up your game by indulging in health foods and healthy long walks with a friend who wants to get back into shape too.
Do not surrender to the temptation of living alone, live with your children or grandchildren. Being surrounded by family is great, but we all need our privacy, so keep some me-time. Interact in the living room in small doses and go out together sometimes. Speak in friendly courteous tones and try not to complain or criticise too much unless you really need to. Lend a hand, help around, make your own bed and be an asset, not a liability. Keep active and visit friends often.
As you move on in years, stay contextual with social media. Something about it keeps you going and alive. And whether it’s butterflies or bird watching, gardening or music, keep your hobbies alive along with your friendship. If you don’t have any friends or hobbies, make new ones. You can travel, walk, become a pastry specialist or even dance as it activates the brain.
Also, never forget to groom and dress well, visit the parlour, buy what you like and literally live in the present. And yes, ideally one would wish for a youthful body to go with this paradisiacal period where you have lived through so much and overcome the big roadblocks. And yet, I’ve noticed all good things come with a corollary and with a small print. So take it for what it is and enjoy it with all the gusto you have!
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org