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Thread: What are you doing to prepare for old age? Resiliency habits.

  1. #1
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    What are you doing to prepare for old age? Resiliency habits.

    As I'm watching my mother decline with age as well as dementia, its made me consider my own mortality and that I might need assistance in the future. Both my mother as well as my deceased mother in law have clung to old ways and have stubbornly resisted any sort of change, which is placing a larger burden on them as well as their kids. My mother in particular has always been all about appearances, and being perfect so she won't change anything that might imply a change in status (eg moving from her too big/too complicated house into an apartment because apartments are for "poor people").

    It seems to me that the habits you encourage during middle age helps or hinders the way you deal with old age. My dad was always curious and engaged with the world, and not afraid to look silly trying new things. He was quite with it until his last days. My mother has refused to learn anything new, won't even look at a computer, doesn't understand much of the world and it makes it so hard to see her struggle with even simple things (like using a TV remote). The dementia has lowered her already low frustration level (she only eats ready to go food, as heating food or opening a can is a struggle).

    I've always examined how and why I do things, and figured out how to streamline so that I don't use brain power repetitively on the same tasks -like using lists for everything. This is a bit of effort to start up, but saves time and mental energy going forward. I use habits a lot so that I don't really have to think about doing the right thing. I've also made it a habit to regular go through things and purge items. I keep asking myself does this habit/thing/routine continue to serve me on a regular basis.

    What other things do you do/see other people do that contribute to a resilient old age?

  2. #2
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    I have several friends and acquntainces in their 80s. The ones that I think are aging very well are ones that got out of their big giant houses, stayed in their neighborhoods, and sought out smaller simpler places. Those places are not always inexpensive — in one case our friend lives in a condo that’s $325,000 which is really a lot of money for St. Louis. But it’s a very nice condo! And she can afford it. The others bought more modest condos but still very nice. Someone else took their multi story Victorian house and built a master bedroom suite on the first floor so they have an entire living Area on one floor.

    I think those who are proactive with their living environment are thinking ahead well to the needs of aging.

    The same people are also active in their neighborhood to the extent that they can be. The people we know best in their 80s worked until the Covid thing came around and they both stopped, Although one does dabble in real estate rentals and sales for his condo building.

    another friend who just turned 80 dug his heels in to live in his giant Victorian house with his incredible hoards of stuff. Many years ago people helped him with a reverse mortgage because he had never been much of an earner and his partner died unexpectedly, and here he is in this huge Victorian house that he absolutely will not give up ever.

    I love my own Victorian house, but I’m glad it was gutted down to the studs when we bought it. There is not the magic of all plaster walls and everything that goes with it, and the reverence I would feel and have to preserve it all doesnt come with our house.
    Last edited by iris lilies; 6-21-20 at 6:19pm.

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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    I agree with IL. Engagement in the world around you is critical. Diminished physical condition and mental ability may be part of aging, but letting those muscles atrophy from disuse really pushes old age to set in. Keep moving, even if it's not marathon running and now it's just walking or pool aerobics. Keep trying to fit your brain around new things, whether it's sudokus or a computer language or actually understanding all the terms mentioned in an insurance policy.

    And be okay with getting older. Our next-door neighbors moved their washer and dryer to the ground level of their house; neither one of them is good on stairs anymore. They love it. I'm fine with being in bed and asleep before Colbert comes on at night and fine with being up earlier than most of the neighborhood, too. We're both retired now, but DW may choose to do a little consulting (if she does, I'll be her back office, which means some new skills for me in billing, etc.). Or we'll volunteer our time to the tune of several hours a week (probably at different tasks, which will give us more to talk about, too).

    Can't slow down. That leads to stopping.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

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    I have lots of longevity on both sides of my family, and what I have seen is that the cognitive decline seems to be an independent variable. I.e. my parents were early computer adapters, my mom used computers in her work very early on, was always up on engaging in her world and community and remaining technologically up to date, until cognitive issues came into her life, and the technology helped her for a long time to retain normal function, but after a while, she could not longer use it--but that was probably after the age of 85, that that stage set in. I don't think she in any way caused dementia by refusing to adapt to her environment; I think she adapted very skillfully until the dementia prevented her from functioning.

    As far as resiliency in old age, I think key is a positive attitude. So if you want to remain in your home to age, and they wanted that, make the adaptations you want to make early, and be prepared for the day to come when you can no longer function in your home, either physically or mentally.

    But be positive, take life on life's terms, and strike a balance between being aware of your physical and mental functioning and how your environment is changing.

    I think destressing and slowing down the emotional pace and insisting on being happy--I think those are the best markers of resiliency. Finding what you love and being true to it.

    I also think we in our 60's are looking for some magic prescriptive bullet that will lead us to a pleasant, wise, non-demented old age, and I don't think it exists.

    You take what you get, including what your brain is wired to do.

    Mom has remained very gracious about what must terrifying changes in her cognition and surroundings. So yeah, I guess I hope for that, the ability to retain my dignity and my positive attitude.

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    It is interesting to watch how people age. My MIL is an outlier I guess as she resists change of any sort, sits and watches mindless TV all day and refuses to have anything to do with computers. A life-long smoker with a bad heart and multiple surgeries throughout her life, she is still scarily mentally alert at 86. I am concerned that DH will not "age well" as he is already having issues with stairs and walking. He sits too much. We are in a tri-level house which for me now is good exercise but I can see that we need to hurry up on a move before it becomes an issue for one or both of us.

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    Now that I am an "old man", I look forward to becoming an "old, old man".

    For actionable ideas, see "Blue Zones Life". I can't say that I have followed all the BZL steps, but I have followed some that work for me. http://www.bluezones.com

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    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    My mom downsized from a home to apartment 5 years after my dad had a big stroke. They were 64. She was always a early adopter of everything. She had a microwave before we did. At 80 she asked us to teach her to use a computer. We bought her one and she used it until she died just short of 90. One of my grandfathers rode his bike until about 6 months before he died at 80.

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    I am trying to eat well, I don't take any medications, and I maintain a social network. I keep my brain active with reading, and strive to think for myself instead of mindlessly following the herd. Each year I set aside money for retirement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    My mom downsized from a home to apartment 5 years after my dad had a big stroke. They were 64. She was always a early adopter of everything. She had a microwave before we did. At 80 she asked us to teach her to use a computer. We bought her one and she used it until she died just short of 90. One of my grandfathers rode his bike until about 6 months before he died at 80.
    This is nice! They sound like they lived active and happy lives.

    Since I have no idea what really constitutes "old age" nor do I know at what age I will die (i.e. the proverbial "hit by a bus". lol), I'm just trying to live every day. I'll work for as long as I have to and after that, for as long as I want. If it were up to me, we would have down-sized a couple years ago, but in the meantime I'm working towards it by down-sizing belongs and wants. I am blessed with a fabulous immediate and extended family. If I need, I know they would be there. If they need, I am there.

    I guess I'll leave it at that and just see how things go. LOL.
    To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer." Mahatma Gandhi

    Be nice whenever possible. It's always possible. - Dalai Lama

  10. #10
    Senior Member Teacher Terry's Avatar
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    Happy, both my mom and her dad kept active which was great. My dad had a big stroke at 59 probably because he was a tool grinder in a auto plant before they wore protection. By 54 he couldn’t walk a block and had COPD. He had to retire early. Before that he was active. My grandparents on my dad’s side sat around doing nothing for 40 years and lived in there own until dying at 90.

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