Getting Old: Ideas for Delaying the Onset, Reasons to Look Forward to It and Ways to Prepare

Getting old.  Getting really old.  It’s not all fun and games.  However,  it is not nearly as dismal as you might think — assuming you follow a few guidelines.  Furthermore, it can actually be enormously beneficial for you to think about growing old.
getting old
Contemplating your future as an old person can:

  • Help you create a better plan and make higher quality decisions now for that future.
  • Upgrade your experience in the here and now. (Usually if its good for your future self, then it is good for you now!)
  • Improve your ability to prioritize what is really important to you.  (Thinking about aging and even about your own death is scientifically proven to help you re-prioritize your goals and values.)
  • Enhance your attitude toward aging.

Below are a few multimedia presentations that can hopefully inspire a positive, fun attitude toward what is going to happen no matter what — getting old.

How Celebrating Shabbat at Wendy’s Illustrates the Importance of Community

“Wendy’s Shabbat” is a documentary about a large group of 80-98 year old people in Palm Springs who get together every Saturday for an inexpensive but meaningful celebration.  You really can not watch this video and not hope that you will have something similar when you get old — or even now for that matter.

Shabbat at Wendy’s is an incredibly modest idea with enormously meaningful consequences.

The movie drives home the point about the importance of friendships and a sense of belonging.  As Roberta Mahler, 87, says: “Living by yourself and having a group like going to Wendy’s gives you a feeling of belonging.  And, 97 year old Rabbbi Isaiah Zeldin (possibly the world’s oldest Rabbi) opines, “In Judaeism, ritual is what keeps the people together.”  And, it is clear that this weekly ritual does bring a large group together.

Research backs up this the importance of feeling bound to something.  Lewis Richmond, author of “Aging as a Spiritual Practice: A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser“, cites scientific research about the importance of belonging, and how essential a factor it is for healthy aging.

Watch the trailer for “Wendy’s Shabbat” here:


What Interviews with the Very Old Teach Us About Happiness?

John Leland wrote a fascinating series of articles about being old.  He figured that the stories would be about: “the fears and hardships of aging: a fall in the kitchen, an aching leg that did not get better, days segueing into nights without human contact. ”

However, what he found was something quite different.  From Helen Moses (90) and her love affair to John Sorensen (91) and his love of opera, Leland discovered that when these older people described their lives they focused on what they could do, not what they could not do.  They looked forward to little things.  At 92, Ping Wong declared, “I try not to think about bad things.  It’s not good for old people to complain.”

Getting Old? You Can Compete in these Olympics!

“Age of Champions” is a 2012 documentary about the people who compete in the senior olympics.  From women’s basketball to pole vault, the very old have not lost their competitive spirit — nor their athletic ability.

In case you get really inspired, the next National Senior Games is set for June 14-25, 2019.   Find the schedule for state games here.

How Your Grandkids (Or Even Friends Your Own Age) Can Keep You Vital Through Play

Stuart Brown is a pioneering researcher on the VERY serious topic of…. PLAY!  In his thoroughly documented TED Talk, he makes the compelling argument that play is vital not only to positive development in children but is also a big part of being happy, smart adults.

Brown claims that the opposite of play is not work, but it’s depression.  Keep playing!

Is There a Fountain of Youth?

The Ted Radio Hour is a podcast that brings together snippets from numerous TED Talks around a particular theme.  In the “Fountain of Youth” episode, the following experts offer advice on living longer and better lives:

  • Dan Buettner shares the secrets of centenarians from around the world.
  • Aubrey de Grey talks about his research that is trying to prove that medical technology may enable human beings to live indefinitely.
  • Cynthia Kenyon explains what a simple genetic mutation in a worm might inform how to extend human life.
  • Harvey Fineberg talks about how technology may extend life.
  • Isabel Allende argues that you need to adopt a good attitude and just make the best of getting old.

Hear the Stories on the Ted Radio Hour “Fountain of Youth” Episode

Don’t Forget Your Retirement Plan

If you hope to live to very old age, it is critically important that you create and maintain a strong financial plan for your retirement.  The planning process can help you be financially secure.  It can also enable you to imagine your future self and develop a positive attitude toward getting old.

The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator has received a lot of praise for being a highly detailed tool that asks questions you might not have considered.  It’s easy to get started and create a plan that will hopefully take you to a happy secure old age.

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