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Not Your Parent’s Old Age

Staying active is important but trying new things is also important to having a successful aging process. Courtesy Amy Strycula Photography

Time will pass no matter what but how one uses that time can make a difference. The term “old age” seems to be getting a makeover and it should be as getting older is not what it used to be.

More and more people are embracing their older years as a time to still be active and involved, a time when they can now perform that so called “second act” of life. A time when they can embrace some of the things they have always wanted to do. No longer are the senior years considered a time to be “put out to pasture”.

We see more people going back to school just to learn or to acquire skills that they always wanted to have. We still see those elders who still feel they can best serve by caring for their grand and great grandchildren. That is indeed a valuable service that they provide by helping to alleviate the financial burdens of commercial childcare, but more are not seeing this as their sole purpose at this stage of their life.

So, what has contributed to this redefinition of later years? It is multifactorial in scope. One is that some people are retiring a little younger. While they still have that zest of life. People are taking better care of themselves. More have been active earlier in life and see no reason to stop now.

The fact that many insurance companies have included a gym membership in their Medicare packages says that these companies realize that staying active is better for their and your bottom line.

There are many more activities that are targeted to seniors. Publicly sponsored senior groups promote physical activity, new experiences through courses and travel.

So, my words of wisdom to you as you age is to remember that age is a number. Do not let that number define who you are.

Try to stay active, make it a point to exercise five days a week. Exercise can be a gateway to increase your energy, improve your sleep and improve the body that you live in. Gone should be the days of sitting for hours in front of the television or computer.

Eat wisely. Adopt the Southern Mediterranean diet.

Stay mentally active. Read, question, expand and explore your life. Start the habit of reading a book a month. Push yourself to include not just those topics you would normally read but include topics you would never have looked at before. Consider joining a book club.

Embrace technology in all its wonderful forms. Take a course and learn how to use that phone in your pocket. Do not just rely on the grandkids to keep it working.

Keep up with the times. Try that new hair style and embrace a more modern manner of dress. Don’t look dated. One new article of clothing a season can make a big statement about you and who you think you are.

Take the time to know who you are. Spend time with you. Define yourself and what you want. Journal those thoughts. Make sure they are written down and quarterly revisit them. Refine them and hold yourself accountable.

Continue to make and hold friendships in high esteem. Make sure they are healthy friendships and that they benefit all involved.

Keep family close if you can. They are the ones who have known you the longest and along with friends will be there for you as you travel your journey. Remember that not all family is healthy, and you must act accordingly to that fact. Know that some family is deemed so and not born so.

Medical science has contributed to the fact that many are living longer and healthier. Make sure you take any medications you are prescribed. Be proactive with your health. Don’t play hide and seek with your healthcare provider. Just because you feel well does not mean you do not need to be seen. Make sure things are okay. Be open to getting routine testing such as mammograms, colonoscopies, lab work, eye exams, dental checks, bone density exams and getting your suggested immunizations. Tackling any problem in its infancy is always easier.

Prepare financially for your future. Save but still enjoy the ride. Invest in the experiences of life. They last longer.

It is no longer your parent’s old age. It is the one you deem right for you.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board-certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wed. Email Dr. Bland at