The Secret of Aging Gracefully

Here’s how to cope with the realities of aging in retirement.

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The other day I was walking through the neighborhood, and I spotted a dime on the ground. I paused to stare intently at the coin, yet made no effort to bend down to pick it up. At that moment I realized I must be getting along in my years. A younger me would not have hesitated to swoop in and grab any shiny coin, even a penny. However, on this day I was evaluating the cost and benefit of bending down for ten cents. A quarter would be a no brainer, but a dime didn’t seem worth the effort.

As we get older, changes in ourselves and the way we live our life are the order of the day. We don’t move quite as fast as we used to, and we have to be careful about what we eat or risk the wrath of an upset stomach. We increasingly find ourselves challenged when reading in a less than well lighted place, and sometimes we just do not have the energy for the little things like picking up a stray coin.

Most of us refuse to surrender without a fight, of course. Plenty of people work out and endeavor to eat a healthy diet. We read all the latest studies and discoveries that can help us live longer lives, follow their guidelines, and check in with our doctors regularly. We do what we can to live a quality life on into our later years. But is there something more we can do to age well?

Here are two important concepts that can help us to maximize our fulfillment while allowing us to age gracefully at the same time:

1. Learn to accept the realities of aging. Embrace the new reality of your life. Listen to your body and behave accordingly. Heed warning signs, and adjust your lifestyle as needed. Ignore the dime on the ground, but go for the quarter. Realize that you are no longer twenty but neither are you ninety (yet). You may sacrifice some physical abilities, but in their place you have experience and wisdom learned with time.

2. Don’t just exist, live your life. Aging does not mean you acquiesce to watch life from the sidelines. Although some things may diminish through the years, your passion for living can and should grow and evolve. Once you exit the working world you have time to explore those other areas of living that you could not while burdened with a job and the responsibilities of raising a family. Those wishful thoughts imagined while drudging through your busy career now have a chance to become reality. Travel to a place that interests you for as long as you desire. Discover your artistic side by painting, writing, sculpting, or designing. Unleash your musical talents by learning an instrument. Keep searching for new ways to get engaged, stay active, and pursue your passions.

Aging gracefully should not be a resignation, but a commitment to living the most inspired and exciting life you can within whatever constraints you personally experience. While we cannot ignore the challenges brought on as we get older, don’t miss your chance to embrace something new.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.