My Longevity Plan

I strive to live life on my terms. In fact, my strong desire to always be independent and the master of my own destiny sometimes causes friction with those I love. But the reality is I am not different than most Americans. I mean our founding fathers extricated us from the heavy hand of England and we have never looked back. We love our independence.

Happy Birthday

This issue is in front of me more now than ever as I approach another birthday. My plan is to not relinquish driving my own destiny for as long as I can. We all struggle with who we are during major life transitions. I figure sharing mine with you is my way to work out my game plan for the next phase of my life. So here goes.

Dignity and Aging

My strategy starts with reflecting on when I felt my strongest, most independent in my life. It certainly wasn’t the first two decades of life. In fact, I don’t recall feeling like ‘I got this’ till my 30s when my career and personal life were in full swing. In my 30s I was physically, mentally, and emotionally strong to handle the complexities of adult life with confidence. Now thirty years later I am eager to recapture that gusto and feel that same Mary Tyler Moore tam tossing confidence and grace. I can do it! How about you?

Use it or Lose It

My first step is to regain my physical prowess after decades of wear and tear. I have no illusions that my body will have the perkiness of the past, my goal is to have the strength and balance skills that will keep me from falling down. I know that exercise is not just for the body, it also boosts brain functioning and serotonin levels. Another bonus comes from research from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Prevention Foundation that my efforts should reduce my risk of dementia by 50% if I keep up my exercise program.

Restorative Sleep

My second step is to optimize my bedroom time. Getting a good night sleep every night is my goal. I have re-arranged my medication schedule to reduce any side effects that could impact my sleep. In fact, I am embracing the happy hour concept as the only time I can drink. Night caps play well in the movies, but research shows that alcohol negatively affects a restful night sleep. I am trying to retrain myself not to read in bed, watch television or view any electronic screen because that too can impact how well I rest.

Bad Habits

Now to get inside my head and clean up all the clutter and bed habits of the past decades. This mental baggage can be so heavy, and my overhead compartment is too full. I started with a morning gratitude prayer. Yes, that’s right. I rise from bed and thank the Lord that I am here to greet another day. Sounds easy, right? The challenge is to maintain that level of gratitude as the day progresses. I do slip now and again but I get right back on track as soon as I can.

Reduce Loneliness

The Pew Research Center asked a cross section of Americans about what makes them feel lonely. The number one reason, across all age groups, is family conflicts, followed by lack of social connections, job stress and finances. Can you relate? I mean there are not quick easy fixes for any of these major life issues. Change what you can and let the rest go. Gratitude has helped me reframe many of my own angst and find gratitude where I can.

Life on My Terms

I am a work in progress just like you. I want to remain independent till I take my last breath. I know I am not alone. My father was the same way, the day he was died, on hospice care, he snuck out of bed and shaved. It is in my DNA. I hope it is in yours as well. A life well lived is a life worth living.

Here’s 5 Things you Can Do Now

  1. Put on your sneakers and walk! Start out with a short walk and build on it every day. The goal is to reach 25 minutes a day.
  2. Open the curtains and absorb the sunshine. Winter weather can be cold and dreary yes, but the rays you catch will boost your melatonin levels.
  3. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex. Get out of bed and move around for all your other tasks even if it’s moving to a chair next to the bed.
  4. Start your day with gratitude. Train your brain for positive thoughts as you wake and throughout the day. Positive thoughts boost brain functioning and reduces anxiety.
  5. Put yourself out there! Reach out to others to share a cup of coffee or join a group for something that interests you.