2017-10-05 / Senior Savvy

Aging, or Not, Day by Day

By Florence Archambault

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 87 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 87 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Last May, when I turned 87, someone asked me how it felt to be that old. Slightly taken aback, I realized that I didn’t have an answer for them. How was I supposed to feel? Is there a manual out there that says how we should feel at a certain age? If so, I haven’t seen it.

Seriously, though, how do I feel? It varies from day to day. There are times when I feel frustrated that this old body doesn’t respond as it used to and that age has somewhat slowed me down physically. Mentally, though, my mind is still racing to complete projects that it takes longer to do and that tire me more.

I look around at my peers, some of whom seem to be doing well, while others are not doing so well. A lot of that has to with our physical being. The ones who seem to be physically able, continue with their volunteer work and take part in the activities and programs that abound in Newport. I always say if you can’t find something to do here on Aquidneck Island, then you are in trouble.

For those who want to do better, physically, one trick is to keep moving. Exercise is a valuable tool to not feeling your age and there are lots of opportunities to participate in exercise. The senior centers offer myriad programs. Some are geared to the aged. You can always set up a program at home, if that is what you want. You are, however, more apt to maintain an exercise regimen in a class environment.

For those whose minds are “feeling” their age, a way to head it off is to keep your mind active. We have been told many times that those activities that involve thinking, such as crossword puzzles, reading, book clubs, word games, and attending lectures can lead to forestalling many of the negatives of aging. Many of these activities, again, can be found in your senior centers. If by chance you are housebound, you could invite some friends over for a Scrabble game or bridge or mahjong.

While slowing down mentally and physically can happen with age, there are also many perks to growing older. I have nine great grandchildren and the oldest are in middle school. Who would have guessed I would have been around to watch them grow and develop over the years?

I remember what pleasure my mother derived from her greats. She was three months shy of 97 when she died, after having lived a full and active life up to the end. What a blessing for those kids to have known their Great Gramma. Those of us with greats and grands are in the position to make some nice memories for them, and our nieces and nephews.

Keeping up with them can also be a part of what keeps us young.

George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” We are never too old to stop playing, unless we are infirm. Otherwise, we can go to see a play, or attend a concert, or host a small get-together in our homes to celebrate anything. Have a friend over for a cup of tea and some conversation.

It is up to us to move along this path of old age and continue to enjoy life. Old age has given us a maturity that we didn’t possess in our early years that we can pass on to those who do not have it. It has given (some of us) wisdom, experiences, dilemmas and their solutions that we can also pass along.

And it has also given us new opportunities. Freed from the raising of children, laboring at jobs we liked or didn’t like and other responsibilities, we can sit down and read a book or a magazine if we feel so inclined, watch a movie or a show on TV, sort through our old photographs in an attempt to organize and identify them. We can also write our memoirs while we still have our memories or while our contemporaries are still with us to share theirs.

So I guess the answer to that question of “How does it feel to be 87 years old?” is that some days are good and some days are not so good. Some days you may feel 50 and other days 100. Just go with the flow. Take each day as it comes, by adjusting to how you feel when you rise in the morning.

We only suffer from old age if we allow it to creep up on us. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.”

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