Friday, January 26, 2018
What My Older Friends Know
Not only should we have younger friends as we grow older— even much younger friends— we should have older friends, too. I laugh because my older friends— women in their 80s and 90s— tell me at 75 I'm still a kid. I look up to them as if I were one. I am in awe of their energy, interests and outlook on life. When I grow up I want to be like them because...
They stay busy. More women are working longer at something they enjoy. It's about choice as much as possible. More time has given them the opportunity to volunteer. My mother-in-law decided to "help take care of old people" when she was in her 80s. They've mastered hobbies they might have dabbled in before. They are taking classes. They are burning through the 100 Greatest Books or putting the family history in order (creative scrapbooking included). They are visiting new places, revisiting old places and keeping up with children and grandchildren.
They stay current. They go to movies, concerts, the theater and museums. They are more likely to read newspapers, magazines and watch news programs because now they make the time.
They like exercise. It's a gift (to be able to do it), an insurance policy (as it does so much for you) and a pleasure (the feeling of accomplishment and well-being). They know a substantial part of good health is up to them; genetics and fate will of necessity sort out the rest.
They eat better. Less sugary treats, less alcohol, smaller portions. They don't consider this deprivation so much as reality. Metabolism has slowed. None of my older friends denies herself a cheeseburger or a chocolate chip cookie. Just not every day.
They sleep more. If they used to get by with 6 or 7 hours they know they feel so much better with 8. Some will even take a nap in the afternoon. One friend said she starting doing that with a visiting grandchild. She lay down to encourage him to rest and found she enjoyed a little cat nap so much she has no guilt taking one without her visitor. Come to think of it, my grandmother did that with me. And all this time I thought she needed a nap!
They still like clothes. Being trendy may be less important, but my older friends still want to look up to date while staying true to themselves. Once I may have thought them a little rigid, but I see now when you know what works it simplifies making choices. Oh, and shoes better be comfortable!
They don't complain. I never hear anyone moan about how they used to look. If their hair is thin, it's thin, not "Oooh I used to have beautiful hair and now it's so thin!" There's a difference. Without exception my older friends are philosophical about health issues. They are not worry warts or deniers but understand life's expected challenges. And when the outlook appears dire... well, that's where I've seen true grace. Bless you, dear June.
They have younger friends. And here we come full circle. My older friends have younger friends. I'm lucky; one of them is me.