Like ill-fitting underwear, old age is creeping up.
Not long ago I wrote an article for Sixty and Me called “7 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Getting Older.” One reader left a comment sharing her agonizing health issues. Life is really difficult for her right now. I am confident when she read my article the word “celebrate” did not resonate with her.
We are getting older by the minute. Old age is creeping up on us. We don’t want to talk about it but the time will come when our health will start to crumble.
One of the ReFIRE principles focuses on the word free. To make the rest of life the best of life we must be free. And one of the things we need to be free from is worrying about our health. There are no guarantees regarding our health. But you can prepare yourself for how to respond when health starts to falter. You can be free from worrying about it.
Body parts wear out, stop working, and get diseased. What then? How will we respond? How do we handle the aches and pain inevitable with the passing years?
Some people become cranky. Their pain and frustration is worn on their psyche like a pair of too tight ugly jeans. People learn never to ask, “How are you today?” because they know the answer all too well.
I’ve seen many people face daunting physical challenges as they age. Some fall into the trap described above. But others seem to rise above their personal physical trouble. In watching their lives I’ve noticed they seem to share a set of common characteristics. They’ve figured out how to still enjoy their Boom years.
Here are the 5 characteristics I’ve observed in Boomers who still enjoy life in spite of failing health.
The first characteristic is they understand failing health is a natural part of life.
When their health fails too many people moan, “Why me?” They become mad at God. If the parents had the same physical problems they blame them for passing down inferior genes. Stop. Remind yourself failing health is what happens when people live a long life. Boomers in declining health are not the unfortunate ones. The unfortunate ones are those who never made it this far. And if we need to talk about it I’ll tell you the story of my 18-year-old brother who was killed by a drunk driver. He’s the unfortunate one.
The second characteristic is they have gotten the best medical care they can afford.
While attending seminary our neighbor was diagnosed with breast cancer. She refused to go to the doctor, believing God would heal her. Several months later she passed away. Take time and spend the money to get the best medical care possible. Don’t neglect yourself. Don’t give up hope. Give the medical community a fair chance to fight your health ills.
The third characteristic is they make the most of every moment when health doesn’t drag them down.
There will be days when pain takes over. I understand there may be times when you cannot even stand up. But if the fog clears and pain recedes be determined to milk the moment dry. This is the attitude some cancer patients have when they talk about “the gift of cancer.” They mean the disease has given them a heightened sense of awareness regarding the preciousness of life. Do your best to make every moment count.
The fourth characteristic is they use the down time to reflect on life and their relationship with God.
I’m convinced this is why some people are destined to go through suffering. It can be a refining time; a time to seek God. In moments of suffering and failing health we are often forced to stay in bed. And in those moments our thoughts turn toward God. Whatever your view on God, at least consider that the times of illness are times to connect with the Infinite.
The fifth characteristic is they have learned to keep laughing.
People who travel through the valley of poor health can improve the quality of the journey by embracing humor. Plan on renting every 3 Stooges movie and binge watch every Seinfeld episode. Big laughter improves circulation and reduces stress. I’ve even read laughter increases endorphins and boosts the immune system. When you use humor people will be drawn to you. And when you are struggling with health, you need more people in your life, not less.
We cannot keep every disease at bay and body parts from failing. But we can control how we respond. Decided now, when your health starts to decline, you will enjoy your years to the best of your ability. These 5 characteristics will help you to enjoy your Boomer years even when health fails.
I am a breast and thyroid cancer survior. As my oncologist said, you will find you won’t sweat the small stuff. He was right. Now I’m thankful for a few aches and pains because I’m blessed to be here. I’ve been cancer free for six and a half years. Feel blessed.
You are living proof that in spite of health challenges life can be enjoyed.
I love the age I am now..(almost 69), and even though I have a LOT of pains, I find things to do that I CAN do – much of it sitting – and I still enjoy life – I feed my birds and squirrels, ride my bicycle in good weather, quilt, color, walk my dog, read and write, and I volunteer…oh, and still teaching Sunday school and Bible study. I don’t dare quit any of those! :)
You inspire me Jeanne. Thank you.
Thank you for that, it makes me feel better.
I’ve been practicing this for many years now and it works. Another year older, not necessarily wiser because I still want to try to do new things. The last 7 weeks of mostly sitting due to a broken ankle and not able to walk have brought me closer to God. I get to return to work on Monday. So glad you keep writing.
I’m glad you did not avoid this topic. Just yesterday we heard about an older couple whom we used to attend church with. The man who had been caring for his wife who has Lou Gherigs disease, had a stroke, fell and hit his head yesterday morning, and died last night. Last year while we were still attending church there, the wife, Betty had to use a wheel chair to attend church, and her speech was becoming slower, and slower. I will always remember her with a smile on her face. Just last year she was telling my wife about a personal hygiene issue that she could no longer do, and laughing about it anyway. Excellent article Randy!
This is a tough one Randy. I don’t want to go down this path. I know … Captain Obvious here.
But thank you for the gentle reminders and for the fine example you are as you travel, write, live and love. And share.
Gotta add that I love this: “Remind yourself failing health is what happens when people live a long life.”
As always thanks for your honest comment.