Age they sometimes say is just a number, and you must feel the way you think. I have watched a few videos and documentaries on ageing, and I think the refrain is true: ‘you are as old, or as young as you feel.’ There was the case of an elderly man who was in a ballroom dance; he danced excitedly alone – he was the only dancer in the whole packed room having no partner. The old man who had come into the dance with his two walking sticks, at the height of frenzy, suddenly threw away his sticks and continued to dance even more vigorously to the thumping reggae vibes!
At 102 Naim Shmuli is still working as the Chief Cashier of the historic downtown Palatin Hotel in Jerusalem – Israel. He is also the accountant, having put in 67 years of meritorious service in the same hotel, and still counting. There is not a single elevator at the hotel. Perhaps this seeming lapse could have spelt a blessing in disguise for the delectable aged staff, Naim Shmuli and indeed every other person working there. All through the ages there have been a whole lot of conception surrounding ageing or growing old, but experts remind us that most of the time these are just mere myths.
Debunking the myths about ageing
Even though some health issues become more prevalent as we age, yet the general notion that ageing means declining health and, or disability is so wrong according to experts, because many of older people still enjoy tremendous health, and are often stronger than many younger folks. Thus a good number of preventive measures are available to equip you for the latter days – such as exercising, healthy eating, and stress management. Studies reveal that these can aid in the reduction of chronic diseases as well as injuries that could occur in later life.
We also often harbour the misgiving that memory loss is bound to crop up as a result of ageing. But experts say this is not always true. Fact is that as you grow older you may not be able to recall as sharply as you used to in the past, or you become a bit slowed down in trying to remember things, yet loss of memory is not necessarily an unavoidable ingredient, or a resultant effect of ageing. Know it therefore, that brain training and new learning can take place at any stage in your life, and there is a great number of activities you can embark on to keep your memory sharp. The earlier you proceed on this the sooner you are bound to reap the results.
And now, one of the most popular fallacies about ageing is this one that says, “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” This is also one of the most damaging misconceptions about old age: it tries to tell you that as soon as you get to a certain age it becomes impossible for you to try out anything new or even make any relevant contributions. But experts say the opposite is rather the case because middle-aged people as well as older adults are equally as capable of learning new things and excelling in new environments, not to talk of the advantage of wisdom and lifelong experiences they bring to bear. The fact remains that with belief and self confidence you have already prepared a positive environment for effecting change, your age notwithstanding.
Tips for meaningful, strong and joyful old age
In addition to dispelling the above myths, the followings are just a few tips for ageing gracefully and maintaining a healthy, strong and balanced old age.
Staying healthy as you grow older could simply mean finding activities that you really enjoy doing, and engaging yourself in them. It could be finding fun with family and friends or in some sort of games or sporting activities, reading and, or writing stuff, etc.
Laughter they say is the best medicine. While you are advancing in age it will pay you to keep your spirit up. Thus you can find a lot of benefits in finding time for humour, laughter and play. Humour will help you get through difficult moments and all absurdities of life, studies have shown.
In some recent research findings exercise has been equated to a miracle drug that can be applied to every category of people – young or old. Also, a recent Swedish study discovered that exercise is the number one factor leading to longevity; it adds extra years to your life, even if you don’t start exercising until your senior years. There is no gain saying that exercise, albeit unconscious, and an active lifestyle has paid off greatly in the life of our Jewish hotel staffer, Naim Shmuli. At least two times a day, he walks up the four flights of stairs to his home – once following his work at the capital’s historic downtown Palatin Hotel, and again following his evening synagogue services.
The import of exercise is not just about increasing the length of your life, but the researchers say it is about adding life to your years. Exercise is able to add strength and agility, increase vitality, improve sleep, give your mental health a boost, and even help diminish chronic pain. It will also help to banish senility, cognitive decline, and dementia, studies have shown.
Even now Shmuli still doesn’t wear eye glasses; but he can’t always read the very small prints and therefore works with a large magnifying glass. “He does it all in his head down to the last agora,” in the words of the hotelier – Warshavsky, “and he’s hardly ever wrong. When he does make a mistake he’s out by only a shekel or two.”
The next very important issue to consider is eating habit. Healthy eating according to a South Australia official website, South Australia Health, eating ought to be an enjoyable and sociable event we all look forward to at all times, whether for old or young, and even while still very healthy. Experts say that a healthy diet is very important for all ages and especially as we advance in age; it should normally comprise of lots of fruits and vegetables as well as (oily) fish, etc. When we do otherwise our bodies pay dearly for it.
Very importantly, health nutritionists point out that variety must also be the watchword in healthy nutritious eating; in addition, do not forget to drink plenty of water to remain well hydrated. Shanna Israel, a holistic health expert and founder of Vertical Wellness has this to say for healthier living: “Eat consistently during the day and maintain a diet that consists of organic whole foods. Be sure to include foods like coconut oil, avocado, cinnamon, green tea into your diet.” All of these go to aid metabolism and normal body weight, and make meals taste great! She also reminds us of the need to replace bad sweets with better ones.