Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The theme for 2020 is “Make Your Mark.” This theme was selected to encourage and celebrate the countless contributions older adults make to our communities.
Women of Wisdom is delighted to share these quotes from women who have expertise in many fields, including healthcare, education, film production, psychology, media, and social science, who have shared their tips and advice that will inspire seniors to be creative, pursue their passions, publish a book, pick up a new hobby, and live life to the fullest!
Judy Gaman, CEO of Executive Medicine of Texas, podcast host, longevity expert, and author of Love, Life, and Lucille: Lessons Learned from a Centenarian. Judy is so passionate about health and longevity that she’s giving away FREE copies of her book Age to Perfection. Just click here: https://book.lovelifelucille.
- It’s never too late to find a new calling. At 100, Lucille Fleming became a longevity expert, appearing on television, radio, and at speaking events. She inspired others right up to the end, which was a couple weeks shy of 104.
- Just because you qualify for Medicare doesn’t mean you have to retire. Older physicians, like my husband who is 69, still sees patients and also takes time to share his wisdom and experience mentoring medical students.
- Do something unexpected and surprise your friends. A dear friend of mine who unexpectedly became a widow, took up piano and dance. She practiced so intently that she surprised us all by performing at Carnegie Hall just a couple years later, fulfilling a life-long dream.
Lucy Rose Fischer. PhD, social scientist, artist and author of The Journalist: Life and Loss in America’s Secret War
- Stretch your mind. If we exercise our brains, we grow more synapses and brain cells. This happens in old age, not just in younger ages. There is a “use it or lose it” principle for our minds. So, if we continue to use our brains, we maintain and even grow our mental capacity. Activities that stimulate our minds include dancing, learning a language, playing a musical instrument, creating art, reading, doing crossword puzzles, or playing board games.
- Exercise your body. Physical exercise helps maintain our bodies and also our minds. We don’t have to run a marathon or engage in extreme physical workouts. Just taking a walk a few times a week and stretching our muscles can have a substantial positive impact on our well-being and quality of life. We can start a physical exercise program at any age—even very old age.
- Create. There is no age limit on imagination. In fact, some forms of creativity blossom in older age. We’re able to figure things out, based on our maturity and all we’ve learned and experienced. Doing art is one form of creativity, but creativity is not the same thing as art. There is an enormous diversity in ways to be creative—you can be creative as a cook, gardener, scientist, philosopher… Creativity is an active verb—so do it!
- Keep laughing. Gallup polls, Nielsen studies, and other surveys show that seniors are the happiest demographic group. It is how we choose to live and to accept this time in our lives that matters. It is a time to create a new edition of yourself, brushing aside your old self-concepts and discovering a new “you.”
- Don’t buy into the stereotypes that older people aren’t as mentally quick and productive. The truth is that older people have an intelligence derived from experience and verbal skills.
- Stay involved and important–to yourself. This is a great time in your life because you are past self-doubt and inhibitions. No regrets over what you didn’t do or try to do. Now is the time in your life when it is all about self-fulfillment. Discover your passion and make your dreams come true!
- Never stop dreaming. It was Langston Hughes who said, “Hold fast to your dreams, for when dreams die, life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” It is never too late to live the life of your dreams. Mary Morrissey, a noted life coach, encourages people to explore longing and discontent in their lives and focus their energy in these areas. Older age is a time when you might have the time and financial ability to realize the possibilities of acting on your longings and discontent. Bringing these realizations to fruition can increase joy, fulfillment, and a sense of well-being. Throughout my life I have been greatly concerned about inequities in life and have longed to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
- Share your wisdom. Reflect on your life and identify experiences that might inform, inspire, and give hope to others. Create a means of sharing those reflections through writing, painting, music or whatever form fits you. Other generations can benefit from your wisdom and unleashing your creativity will not only be fun, but it can also enhance your sense of purpose.
- Find a way to help others. Focus on the needs of others to give meaning, not only to your life, but to provide support and empathy in times of need. Make personal phone calls to those who live alone or those who are struggling with issues. This action communicates that they matter and that you care. You can also use social media to interact and stay in touch.
- Find your “it.” No, not your id. I mean your it, the thing you love. If there’s a book you’ve always wanted to write, it’s easier and more inexpensive than ever to publish your own e-books and paperbacks and to market them on Amazon and social media platforms to reach your targeted audience. Or take my 70-year-old neighbor, who decided to run for city council—his first public office. Lo and behold, he defeated a 12-year incumbent, is loving his new role, and is on his way to becoming our mayor. When you find that “it,” you replace words like boredom, hum-drum, and the doldrums with the vocabulary of excitement, challenge, and adventure.
- Enlist your family’s help. As a grandparent, are you on 24/7/365 babysitting call? Do you cancel luncheons, movie engagements, and other commitments because you get called into active grandparent-duty at a moment’s notice? Ask your kids to help you in accomplishing things you want to do. Could they give you a bit of advance notice on babysitting when possible? I’ll bet you’ll find that works better for everybody.
- Indulge yourself. Have you been frugal and accumulated savings over a lifetime, as we responsible folks do? That was then. Now’s now. Old habits die hard. My 80-year-old neighbor mows her own lawn in the summer heat! My own mother thought it was too extravagant to have cable TV, so she watched the same old weary 5 antenna channels. These ladies had the resources for upgrades in their lives. For our health and enjoyment, we owe ourselves some indulgences.
- Start new! Find a field totally different from what you had worked in previously and explore it with enthusiasm. For me, it was creative writing and acting, both very different from teaching neuroanatomy and doing neuroscience research for 35+ years. A new subject would motivate you to learn it from scratch, fine-tune it, and put it to use. What’s there to lose? You are a beginner in a new field of study!
- Persist! The creation of my novel gives a new meaning to the term, the seven-year itch. It took me seven years to complete it. Putting it away, not believing it was worthy of completion, returning to it because I was convinced there was a good story buried in it. If not for the world, I needed to see it through for myself.
- Enjoy every little success! Since you started new, every little victory will be unbelievably precious. That first audition, that first movie/TV role, that special feeling when you finish your first creative piece, and it is ready to be sent out into the world. You have to feel it to believe it. I did.