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AGING GRACEFULLY

In this article I am going to highlight a few important aspects to keep in mind in the ageing process.

Introduction

What does ageing refer to?

Let’s compare it to the seasons of nature: the years march on through the seasons of life and we are now at late autumn approaching winter. I read somewhere that if you are older that 30 years, your ears are getting bigger and your nose is getting longer. If you are MUCH older, you shrink at the pace of 1 cm per year!
Hearing and sight could decrease and wrinkles increase. The color of hair change.
To summarize: ageing has an obvious physical aspect which is very noticeable.

What do the words grace, graceful and gracious mean?

The Oxford Dictionary uses the following words to describe it: courteous, goodwill, kind,
indulgent and beneficent to inferiors, attractiveness especially in elegance of proportion of manner or movement. Quite a mouthful!
What would the opposite be? I could not find a single word, but a few descriptive ones could be: stick in the mud, negative, critical, sour, complaining, judgemental.

The gift of life

The greatest gift we ever received is life itself. What we receive at the same time, is the consciousness to appreciate our gift of life, as well as the possibility to respond to life in whichever way we like, day-to-day, moment-to moment.
My ability to respond to life is known as my response-ability.

It is not always easy to respond to this life gracefully. It is easy to talk about it and to try and sound clever and wise, but you are the person to cope with yourself 24/7.
These days life is often compared to being in your boat on the river of well-being. If you get off your boat you will find chaos on the one bank and rigidity on the other one. The question then is how to stay on your boat and age gracefully. I think the following 4 factors amongst many others, underpin a high quality of life for elderly people.

Four important factors

Health, independence, stimulation and relationships 

If we are healthy enough to take care of ourselves: get out of bed, get dressed, use the bathroom, control bodily functions and get into your car and go – life can still be very good. We can provide our own stimulation and do our own thing.The more we loose control over  the above functions and possibly experience some physical  pain, the more we loose our independence and have to rely more and more on the assistance of helpers. It requires a huge mind shift to adjust to this phase of life. It can affect my sense of self, feelings of selfworth, identity, etc if my body will no longer respond to the instructions I would still like it to carry out.

It is at this point where relationships become so important. Can I accept myself the way I am now? How do I treat the people around me? Can I  be courteous and kind?

Preserving independence

This is old news. We all know what it is all about and what we maybe did wrong or did not do for many years:

 *  Watch our diet
 *  Exercise  appropriately
 *  Drink enough water
 *  Get enough rest and sleep
 *  Be careful with alcohol, and so on.

It is still important to pay attention to the above physical aspects to preserve a life of quality, but on the psychological level it is also important to include meaningful activities in our lives. It will differ from person to person depending on interests and physical abilities.

To conclude

Another factor that can contribute towards ageing gracefully, is spirituality.
Are we not all on a quest for inner peace? Do we not all have to come to terms with the fact that not one of us will leave this life alive?

John O’Donnahue wrote in a poem:
 
“I would love to live like the river flows
  Carried by the surprise of it’s own unfolding.”

Let’s age like good wine and not like vinegar!