When do we become old? Is it by age, by our state of mind or by our physical or mental condition. For younger people anyone over 40 is considered “old” while those of us who the young think are old feel quite young.
Does Our Physical State Make Us Old?
This week, within 24 hours, I suddenly felt 20 years older. This was because I was sick with a cold, headache and felt miserable. When I feel that my body is not the one I’m used to hanging out in, I feel like I’ve aged.
When I’m feeling down, I look for inspiration in older people who despite their age and aches are doing some incredible feats.
This relay team of 4 swimmers, all age 90 or older (well almost, one was "only" 89) set a world record. They each swam 200 m freestyle – that’s 8 laps. Just watching these 90-year-olds dive head first into the water is amazing, but they also each tell how they swim despite their physical ailments like hip replacements, heart bypass, macular degeneration and more.
Is Being Old a State of Mind?
I met a man who was very old. This person was very slow to walk, to sit down and to get up. This man did not suffer from a physical disorder that caused the slowness, he simply felt old. For some people knowing their age makes them feel and act old. What surprised me, was that this person was actually younger than me. So - How old would you be if you didn't know your age?
Have you heard of Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins? Here is a woman who doesn't seem to know her age. This woman only began running at the age of 100. This week she set the record for the 100m in the 105 year old age category!
Look at Julia’s mindset:
"The older you get, the more passions you ought to have... Keeping active is one of my most important passions,"
Julia Hawkins was a teacher and two of her students were in the crowd cheering her on – they were 90- and 89-years-old!
Does Our Mental State Make Us Old
My mother was a brilliant woman. She was one of the very few Jewish women in Poland who was accepted to Medical School in the late 30’s. Unfortunately, she was never able to complete her studies because War broke out. My mother survived the horrors of the Holocaust, but never went back to study.
I remember when my mother was in her 50’s and her children were no longer living at home, we suggested she take a class at the community college. My mother said, “What’s the point at my age?” and never went to study.
Is studying only for using the knowledge in the future or can studying a subject be for our own enjoyment, enrichment and brain health? Learning something new helps us build new neurons in the brain.
With a completely different view than my mother’s, is María Josefina Cruz Blancas y García. Last last month, at age of 93, she received a university degree in business education. Now she dreams of getting a degree in theology!
Blancas y García says, “People need the will or volition to do what they want in life. There are so many great examples of what you can do with your life, you just really need the will to do it.”
To read more about this amazing mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother click here.
What Keeps Us Young?
Whenever I meet someone who is older, but in good mental and/or physical shape I always ask them what their secret is to staying young.
Over the years I have found that what most of these people have in common is optimism. They always look at the positive. They are also grateful for all they have.
I remember talking to one 90-year-old woman who was looking out her window at the view at sunset and called to us “Look, isn’t that gorgeous!” I asked her how long she had been living here. She had been living in that same house, seeing that same view every day for over 40 years!
Another woman who was 96 and suffered from maculate degeneration that caused difficulty to see, said that when people asked her if her sight issues don’t depress her, she answers “How can I be depressed. I have such wonderful children and grandchildren!”
So at least this blog reminded me to stay optimistic – even when feeling sick and old. I'm sure that will help me get well faster!
--- Oran Aviv has been a reflexologist for 25 years and is also a Certified Validation teacher. She combines both the principles of hand reflexology and Validation to teach ©Hands-on Dementia to help people connect and understand at a deeper level those who have memory loss.
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Oran is also the author of Hands-on Dementia for Caregivers, a Step-by-Step Guide to Learn 3 Reflex Points to Help your Loved One and Yourself