A huge "Hi" to you from me in the middle of November! In about a month I'll be in Florida for a family gathering. My siblings (two sisters and a brother) and I usually get together during a few days that work for all of us, schedule-wise, and create a "holiday" celebration with our dad. He's 94 1/2 and at an age when that half year becomes important again like when we were kids. Before you go picturing him as feeble or diminished, let me tell you more about him.
He lives in an apartment complex for independent seniors. Up until a little over a year ago he still drove his "classic" (25-year old) Volvo. Now he's become friendly with the shuttle driver where he lives and gets out frequently. He likes to walk outside and says he likes to go alone because he doesn't want to be slowed down by anybody else.
He has a light breakfast most days, sometimes just coffee. He loves dinner time and chose to live where there is a dining room and someone cooks for him. He was never comfortable in the kitchen and very appreciative of whomever provided a meal for him in the evening.
When my mother died in 2017, my dad stayed in their 4-bedroom house for almost nine months. About six months into being alone he announced that he had no interest in experiencing another New England winter. He and my sister went down to Florida, at his request, and found his new home. After cleaning out the home he had lived in for nearly fifty years and loading up a moving truck with a LOT of help from my sister, he made the big move. I drove him down and after a few days helping him settle in, I returned to Massachusetts while he began this next chapter of his life at 88.
Let's go back much further ... my dad was the only son of a Canadian woman and her New Hampshire husband. They settled around Boston and then further out in the suburbs where they stayed for most of their lives. My dad had one sister, was the manager of his high school baseball team and loved music, especially jazz. He learned how to play the double bass and was part of a small quartet. After he married my mother he was about to be drafted into the army because of the Korean Conflict. He preferred enlisting in the Air Force and ended up doing mostly desk work stateside while my pregnant mother stayed behind with his family. Once out of the Service, he decided that being a musician wouldn't be the best way to support a family and he took advantage of the GI Bill and went to college. Not feeling like he had the luxury of doing his schooling over four years, he applied himself to his studies and graduated Summa Cum Laude after just over two years. He became a CPA and until today, still knows how to deal with taxes better than most. One thing to note here -- my dad is probably dyslexic! That sort of thing wasn't "diagnosed" when he was in school, but he's talked about the effort he had to put into reading, writing, and doing math.
Over the years he worked on advancing himself, taking care of the family, and improving his situation. He also continued to play gigs now and then, on the side, with small jazz groups.
You're probably wondering why I'm telling you about him. The Care has become a platform for me where I can talk about not only getting and staying healthy, but also I've starting focusing more and more on aging well. My dad is a good example. Here are some of the reasons I think he's been successful:
He focuses on "what's next" and doesn't stay stuck in the past.
He's probably been an intermittent faster most of his life. Until he was in his 70's he really only ate one meal a day. He's never seen the point in eating lunch. Consequently, he's never had great weight fluctuations.
He believes in being proactive. While he does check in with doctors, he also follows current research in keeping oneself in good shape with the latest supplements.
He walks most days and sometimes takes the stairs, instead of the elevator, up to his third floor apartment. He keeps moving.
He stays sharp by keeping up with his finances and tax returns. Even if he has an accountant file for him, he always goes over the paperwork first and often has found an error here or there. He worked as an accountant into his 70's.
He lives near my sister. He likes his independence and he also enjoys dinner with her a few times a month. He also delights in and appreciates when we all get together in December and April (his birthday month) and he loves chatting on the phone with any of us when we call.
In addition to family connection, he knows everyone in his apartment complex, especially the staff that are around to help if there's a need.
He's always had and keeps his sense of humor.
He gave up smoking many years ago.
His mother lived to be just shy of 100 so you could say he has "good genes", however his father died suddenly at 58 so I don't think it's all genetics. I believe that a lot of it has to do with him deciding not to just sit and watch television and wait to die. If he's going to keep having birthdays he's going to do it actively and in the best possible shape he can be in.
I think we can all benefit from Dad's approach to getting "old". As the saying goes, "It's not the years left in your life that count. It's the life in your years.". No matter what your age, keep on living and remember, all ways, be care-full.
Do you feel like you could be living more fully, more "out loud"? Contact me -- I've helped many feel good about feeling good.
Happy Healthy Habit Hump Day,