07 August 2013

Growing Old the Groovy Way

I've been thinking alot about aging lately.  This is not because I am oh-so-very old yet.  It is more because I am surrounded by the complications and difficulties of aging on a daily basis.  The girls and I have been visiting a local nursing home every Tuesday for years now - and that's certainly been enlightening.  Folks come, folks decline and then... Well. they either move out to a full scale nursing home (the one we visit is an "assisted living" center) or they die.  The girls and I actually got to sing one dear lady right out of this earthly life.

Then GrammaJ and The Folks moved up here from South Carolina and Florida, respectively, a few years ago.  The Folks, Grammy and Grampy, live in an apartment that is attached to our house and GrammaJ lives in a senior development nearby.

Observing and interacting with all these people who are in various stages of aging has had a huge impact on me.  Most of all, it's caused me to wonder what the BHE and I will be like when we're old.  Will we be Anxious?  Cranky?  Immobile?  Hopeless?  Deaf?  Pain-ridden?  Or will we be Optimistic?  Cheerful? Mobile? Colorful? Fun?  Or will we be some combbination of the former and the latter?

I know elderly adults in all three categories.

Well "they" always say we should set goals and strive for them, so I've decided to set some goals for my own groovy aging.

1.  I want to be as mobile as possible, so I am working now -WAY in advance - to keep my muscles strong and my balance good.  I walk and run and bike ride and lift weights and practice balancing.  And boy, do I ever go up and down stairs!  (Inefficiency is remarkably efficient at keeping one's weight down!)

2.  However, if I can't be as mobile as I'd like, then I'm going to have fun with my disability.  There will be sparkly, fun seasonal decorations on my cain, walker, wheelchair.  And I will have a bike horn with which I will make everyone crazy.

3.  I want my mind to stay sharp.  So I am working now -WAY in advance - to keep it so.  I read fiction and non-fiction, research anything and everything that interests me, do puzzles and play games and problem solve.  I take classes and participate in trainings.  I take on challenges to teach classes.

4.  Alas, there are mornings like this morning where I wonder how well all this is working.  I am currently drinking TWO cups of coffee simultaneously - don't ask.  (On the plus side, I DID recall how to spell "simultaneously".)  So, if my mind slips away, I want to enjoy being nuts.  I may even pretend to be nuts just to get a rise out of people!  I've noticed that most older people settle into very boring and uneventful days.  I plan to give 'em a thrill by putting lipstick on my eyebrows, wearing my bra over my shirt and carrying my blow dryer everywhere I go!  ;-)

5.  I want to maintain a cheerful and optimistic outlook.  I want to be one of those old ladies who smiles and says, "Oh, I can't complain.  God is good to me!"  The only way I'll be able to be like that then is to be like that now -WAY in advance.  I work every day to keep my eyes on God's goodness and blessings in my life.  I am confident that cultivating a thankful heart now will help me to live with a thankful heart then.

6.  I do not want to be an overmedicated zombie when I am a senior.  We've got one parent who refuses most meds (even though the doctors insist that she "needs" them) and is making it through just fine.  She also has decided to eschew any more invasive tests and refuses to see any more specialists.  Another parent is on so many meds that it takes 2 pages to list them all.  He has as many difficulties because of the meds themselves as he does from his actual physical difficulties.  I won't go into any details, but I will say that I plan to go the former route.  I will consider what my doctor suggests, pray about it and then make a decision.  I do NOT want to be a "Yes, Doctor" kinda gal!

7.  When I am elderly, I am darned if anyone is going to tell me what I can and can't eat.  I'm just sayin'...

8.  Lastly, I don't want my life focus to devolve (I just had to look up "devolve" to see if actually was a word!) into a spiral of self focus.  One of the greatest blessngs I have is seeing 2-3 folks in the nursing home who make it their business to care for others there.  They are quick to aid and encourage other residents and exhibit a real care for them that moves me.  GrammaJ has her moments, but overall I see in her a continual attempt to focus on the needs of others and to minister to them.  She bakes cookies for neighbors, even when she feels lousy.  She prepares "encouragement baskets" for people and then has me deliver them covertly.  She makes it a point to try to get grouchy cashiers to smile.

I want to be like that.  I want to keep ministering to and blessing people until the day I see my Lord face to face.

I want to grow old the Groovy way!


Susan said...

I love this post!!!! When I was 21 & Mickey was 26 we moved next door to a couple in their 80's. Their name was Henry and they were the sweetest, most positive, loving, caring people. I determined that as I grew older I wanted to be like the Henry's. I think it is important to do just what you've done and "look-ahead" and make some life-long decisions.

Another observation: I believe that what ever our basic character, when we are younger, will be excel orated as we age. In other words: if I am a grumpy, cynical, hard person in my 20's-30's I am going to be TOTALLY unpleasant and someone no one is going to enjoy being around in my old age: Conversely, if I am pleasant, optimistic, happy, nice, sweet, kind, etc. in my old age I am going to excel in all those pleasant traits and add joy to other people and be someone people will want to be around.

In your list #6 I TOTALLY agree with.

Sorry to "write a book" but as you can see, you hit a nerve with me since I am 75 and hopefully Mr. & Mrs. Henry are looking down on me and smiling, as they brought smiles to our lives as a young couple with 2 small girls.

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Jack and I have decided that if we end up in a nursing home we are totally gonna OWN that puppy and torment the staff! LOL!

anno said...

You not only hit a nerve, but downright TWANGED it into its full expressive range--we've been watching a lot of these dramas recently. Sure think you're on the right track...

Tammy said...

Great post, Groovy...as you know, I look out for my 86 yr old mom who lives in an Independent Living apt 5 min. away. My husband and I have both in the last year really, really started trying to eat healthy and keep fit...last year, I kept thinking about aging as it referred to me in a more negative way. It was because the big 5-0 was looming over me like a huge boulder that was about to crush me. I was depressed that we all have to get older, lose our youthful appearance, ect ect....so I prayed over this a lot, knowing it wasn't an emotionally healthy place to be. Now, I can't say that I don't wish we all didn't have to go through the aging process but I've quit obsessing so much and just choose to make healthy choices physically...and to remember that God looks on the inside. As for our attitude- which is what your post is mostly about- you are so right...focusing on at thankful attitude now will help us to be so in the future. (And about the medication issue, so agree with you and your mom on this! I decided to forgo high blood pressure meds this last year to controlling it naturally. And my mom takes no meds!)
Susan, loved your thoughts, too!
OK, now I REALLY just wrote a book in my reply. Major nerve hitting going on here, Groovy! :)

groovyoldlady said...

You've all made me cry by giving me the joy of knowing there'll be a bunch of crazy old coots out there with me in just a few years.
Susan, you will never be an old coot, though. I think you are one of the most Godly, gracious women (of any age) that I know.

Let's do this aging thing GOD's ways, ladies - and rock the world! Hugs to you all!