My parents are living examples on how to age successfully. I learned a lot at the university about aging but it can’t compare to what my parents have taught me. Early on they led by example. They taught me, and are still teaching me, to have a good attitude, to be adaptable and to stay active.
Attitude is Everything!
From my own experience, the moment I start having a pity party my day goes to the dumps. Being grateful for everyone and everything can change my mood and absolutely make me a better person to be around. I must have told my children this line, “Attitude is Everything!” a million times. Whatever we’re going through, we all have something to be thankful for. Stepping back and getting a different perspective can often make all the difference.
There were times growing up when we had very little. My mother had to have emergency surgery when I was 11 that took all their savings. Her recovery was difficult but every day she tried her best to do what she could. Oh, there were a few tears at times because she couldn’t do everything she wanted to, but she didn’t let that bird build a nest.
For the caregiver it is extremely important to keep a good attitude. You are the heartbeat of the home and your loved one is looking to you to know everything is going to be all right. Take time outs. Phone a friend to vent but when you’re with your loved one — keep it together. Whatever you are going through, it just might be worse for them.
Life is just one change after another. The sooner we learn to roll with the punches, the better our lives become. My parents grew up during the Great Depression. They had to leave family and home to make a better life. Nearly every step of the way they had to learn to adapt to those changes. They went from the backwoods of Oklahoma to Los Angeles, California. Now that’s a big change.
Unlike our generation that was given more than any that came before, most of our parents had to do whatever it took to make it. They didn’t whine. They kept their feet on the ground and did whatever it took. The perks of being adaptable are wisdom, new skills and confidence. Every home they lived in, they made better. They didn’t start out knowing how to renovate a home or fix what needed fixing. They learned. They read. They asked people who had those skills.
We can learn from them. We can learn to take change as a challenge to make things better in our lives.
My parents are doers. I really don’t think my mother ever considered going to a gym or attending an exercise class, yet her doctor tells her she has the body of a teenager. Every day she gets outside with her dog and works around the yard. She paints porches and rooms. She digs up trees taller than herself to move them to a better spot. She is 80 years old and she can work circles around me. About 10 years ago she contracted Guillane Barre syndrome and was paralyzed from the neck down for nearly two weeks. She didn’t let that stop her. She fought back to stay active.
Daddy is not happy unless he has a least one little project a day. His legs are not as strong as mama’s. He spent too many years standing on cement floors cutting hair, but he still gets out and at least does some “piddling.” Yesterday he built a little gate for the yard and hung it. A few months ago he renovated the little bridge at the creek. It’s football season so he does do some sitting but not for more than a game at a time. I do believe the old saying is true — busy hands are happy hands.
What I learned in university is that staying active does more than keep you healthy. Where the body goes, the mind usually follows. Staying active is vital for good health both mentally and physically.
So, stay active, keep a good attitude and roll with those punches. The quality of your life and mine is up to us!