“Age is an issue of mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it does not matter”. This quote from Mark Twain has always resonated with me, but all the more poignantly as I make my way through my mid seventies. The twilight years are often romanticised as a time of wisdom, repose and dignified insight. While this is true to a certain extent, what does inevitably come with old age is a deterioration in health; both physical and mental. The adverse effects that time has on our bodies cannot be avoided, but we can take steps to avoid loneliness and depression that is all too common in old age. After my wife passed away recently, I have taken several steps to keep loneliness at bay.
Elderly people do not have to be in the dark when it comes to technology. On the contrary, I use my laptop on a daily basis for a wide variety of things. My grandkids have helped me set up a Facebook profile, and although it took some getting used to, I am now borderline obsessed. Along with allowing me to keep in touch with loved ones and see what they are up to, I have also reconnected with old friends and even made a few new pen pals. Aside from the social aspect, the net is a wonderful resource for research and reading up on subjects that interest me.
I find that hobbies keep me forward-thinking and motivated, and now I finally have time to indulge in activities I did not have time for in the past. It has never been easier to learn a new skill, as there are tutorial videos for just about anything available online. As I have always had an interest in music, I have begun teaching myself to play the harmonica, and although my skill level is debatable I thoroughly enjoy the learning experience. Gardening is another passion of mine. It gets me outside the house, and also helps with socialising. No matter how many compliments I get for my petunias from my neighbours, I get a tinge of pride and satisfaction every time.
Regular exercise is crucial in any part of life, but all the more so in old age. Not only does it keep our body fit and healthy, it also does wonders for our mood. I am lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood where I am within walking distance to almost anywhere I need to go on a daily basis. As a matter of principle I avoid taking the bus or driving whenever I can and instead I walk everywhere. It might not seem like much, but it is an effective low impact exercise that keeps me fit without feeling like a chore. In addition, I have several walking buddies that are around my age who I enjoy long walks and conversations with. In addition, I often frequent my local swimming pool for a few laps and the occasional sauna.
For me, losing friends and loved ones is by far the most difficult part of getting old. It puts thing in perspective and really makes you value the people in your life. I keep in touch with old friends and relatives on a daily basis and make a point of meeting up with them as often as I can. In addition, I have also gained a new social group online. They are all guys of a similar age and background as me and we meet up for poker at least once a week. Although it can be difficult to make new friends at an old age, we have many of the same concerns and interests; mainly reminiscing about the good old days.
It is easy to become disheartened, bitter or even depressed as you get older. That is why it is vitally important to understand yourself and the factors that contribute to your mood and general life satisfaction. By no stretch of the imagination do I claim that I do not have my fair share of sad days. It does well to keep in mind that lasting happiness requires both happy and sad days, and to take things one day at a time.