Ageing is one of humanity’s greatest triumphs, yet the perception of ‘getting older’ sadly often remains one of great negativity. There is a choice for all of us: we can either accept that old age means to fade away, deteriorate and wither on the vine, or we can seize the opportunity to make the most of our later years and revel in joy, passion and greater wisdom.
After more than 20 years’ experience in the ageing industry, and meeting with people flourishing at all stages of later life, I’ve compiled a list of tips for successful ageing. Remember, we hold the keys to our future.
1. Say yes
Say yes – and say it more than you ever have before! Every time we do something new, we grow, so grasp opportunities when they come along and don’t be afraid to fail. When presented with a choice, we can choose for that to be positive or negative, and taking that small positive change can make a big difference. So, say yes to that invitation for an outing, yes to someone lending you a hand, and yes to your grandkids trying to teach you how to take a selfie.
2. Participate and stay connected
This is one of my favourite tips for successful ageing. By getting involved in your community or with your family you are going to find fulfilment in those relationships. It’s no secret that most people rate moments of connection with people and shared enjoyment as their most important life experiences, so it’s really important to be present and participate. Help out or volunteer, be part of doing things with and for others.
3. Be proactive
Positive people are proactive, not reactive, so it’s up to you to take charge. We can be proactive by understanding what threatens our successful ageing and take pre-emptive action. For example, knowing that relationships are important to our wellbeing means that we may need to take proactive steps to patch up a fraying friendship or family relationship.
4. Dodge the negative
Avoid the glass-half-empty folk. The decision not to be negative comes largely from within ourselves. Choose not to spent time with people who foster negativity – the grumpy, gossiping, critical people who, wittingly or unwittingly, reduce us to their own miserable level. Negativity is contagious. Reject it and be positive.
5. Be adaptable
Our plans must be adaptable and something we’re constantly reviewing and renewing, because our circumstances and personal priorities inevitably change. Update or adjust plans to remain conducive to your best life.
6. Pursue your passions and keep learning
With more time on your hands in retirement, you now have the opportunity to revel in passions of your choosing – whether it’s good books, films, music, art or gardening. Learn a new language or a musical instrument, or wrestle that cryptic crossword into submission. Prioritise time on the activities you enjoy and with people who are important to you and make you feel good.
7. Sustain your physical and mental health
Keep illness at bay by eating well, exercising daily and having regular medical checks-ups. Become more actively involved in managing your own wellbeing with the help of the many new health and fitness wearables and other simple devices that are now available. We have all heard before that keeping the brain active is a great way to protect it from deteriorating. The act of simply learning how to use a new technology provides great mental stimulation, as do games such as Suduko and online courses for over 60s.
You can find more tips in Marcus’ book, Booming – A Life-changing Philosophy for Ageing Well.