By Loretta LaRoche
These days, it seems that not a day goes by without a magazine or new show doing a “special report” on aging. Why are they all so interested in this “hot” new topic? Well, one of the biggest reasons is that the Baby-boom generation is reaching 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day.These individuals have never done anything in a passive way, and they aren’t going to take aging lying down. This leaves us with a very interesting phenomenon. We have the Boomers who don’t want to age like their parents and a culture that is youth obsessed. This makes it harder to accept the realities of aging which are often combined with a myriad of health issues.
It actually becomes comedic to watch some people trying desperately to avoid aging by embracing the latest, greatest exercise routines, supplements, and special diets that are supposed to increase longevity. We now have a plethora of gadgets that can monitor our every movement, food intake and sleep patterns. It feels like we’re spending more time tracking how we live than enjoying life itself.
Not a week goes by without a new food being touted as the latest fountain of youth. One week it’s pomegranate juice, next it’s blueberries, which were strongly advised to help prevent memory problems. What if you forget to eat them? Now, kale smoothies are big news. Personally, I would rather have a spaghetti smoothie. Gluten has become practically satanic. Yes, there are individuals who have issues with gluten, but it’s only one percent of the population. If you walk around the supermarket you’ll notice that hundreds of items are labeled “gluten free.” How about napkins? They should be gluten free since you wipe your mouth with them. Using the word “clean” to describe one’s eating behavior has also become part of the culture’s lexicon. Perhaps we should be vacuuming our food before we eat.
I often wonder how my grandparents lived into their nineties as well as my mother. They ate cheese, sausage, salami, and tons of spaghetti, but they age together, not in their car or at their work desk. Does it make sense to eat a healthy diet, exercise and manage your stress levels? Absolutely! But, how about some common sense? What has happened to moderation and common sense? We are more than our dietary needs. No matter how “clean” we eat or how many steps we take every week, without social connection, fun, and the feeling that life has meaning, we are not living in a holistic manner. In fact, social connection is at the top of the list. There are more people on antidepressants for loneliness than ever before. Loneliness fosters depression, and can increase the possibility of heart attack and a host of other illnesses.
As we age, we are all going to face the challenges that are analogous to aging. Learning how to navigate those challenges is not always an easy task. If you are capable, try to take a daily walk. Eat healthy foods. This is not rocket science. Do something that brings you joy. Engage with others. Most importantly, try to reduce conversations about pains and aches, illness, and the number of pills you might be taking. Try to interject some humor and fun. Don’t wait to have fun. Become the fun you’re seeking.
Reprinted from the February 2018 edition of the South Shore Senior News