Aging Gracefully – Nature or Choice?
Posted by Caren Crane Jan 12 2013, 12:19 am
Last Sunday, Feb. 6, was my grandmother’s 93rd birthday. There is nothing wrong with her, physically, but her mind is gone. She has no short-term memory and her long-term memory tends to focus on negative things that happened decades ago. She is dying but very sloooowly. This not-so-graceful aging has spurred many discussions in my family, because none of us want to end up like that. Is aging gracefully a matter of genetics or a choice we make?
If it is somehow genetic, we’re in big trouble. But if it’s only partially genetic and partially a matter of choice, we’re in a better position. Recent studies on aging seem to indicate that it’s both, but that attitude plays a BIG part in how gracefully one ages. Being mentally curious, wanting to learn new things and being engaged with the world seems to be a key, though medicine doesn’t know how that influences our physiology.
My little grandmother – my only surviving grandparent – has never been a mentally keen person. She has never been one to get out and socialize, never wanted to take a class or go to the theater or even play Bingo. She is the only person I know who actively dislikes music. She has no reason to live, really, but also has no desire to die. She is sort of wasting away, drinks only when forced to and eats almost nothing. She remembers none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren and often asks my mother who she is and who her own children are. It’s sad, but I know many elderly people end up like this. So the question is: how do each of us make sure we don’t end up like that?
I think the fact that all of us Banditas and Bandita Buddies are avid readers is a huge plus in our collective favor. The fact that we are socially engaged, reading and commenting on blogs, is another big plus. We seek out new authors, new books, new brain food. We hop on the internet and research interesting topics. We seek to learn more about interesting things we read in books, on news sites or see on TV shows or in movies. I think we’re on track to age much more gracefully than my little grandmother. It’s too late for her, but we can choose – at least in part – how much we enjoy the end of life!
What things do you do that you think will help you age gracefully? What hobbies, habits or pursuits keep you mentally engaged? What would you like to start doing in this New Year that will keep you lively for the rest of your life? I am always looking for new and interesting things to do, so please let me know!
Posted in Aging, aging gracefully, birthdays, Caren Crane, social engagement