This article is an introspective one for me to write because I guess I would be a senior now since I am in my 60's!!! It is an odd feeling to grow older, being amazed at the number of years behind me - and fewer years to go on the other end of life.
Well, I guess I can tell the rest of you seniors out there the things that I am doing these days to help me out and to keep me feeling fit and pretty energetic - but not quite as energetic as I was 30 years ago!!
As we age our Growth Hormones really decrease tremendously. This means, to the average person, that our systems do not rejuvenate as quickly after a long day of work, nor do we recover from accidents or illnesses as readily as a much younger person might. What does this mean for us as far as our lifestyles are concerned?
Well, I guess I will tell you a story about a friend that I had who was my mentor for over 20 years and lived to be almost 92. She was an example for me on aging and being creative! Her name was Phyllis and she was an author, herbalist and an artist. As she aged and became quite elderly, she would monitor, each day, what her energy levels where and would schedule projects that she knew she could do without getting herself very exhausted and weak. She never skipped meals also. She had a little protein with each meal as well such as an egg, or sardines, or a small piece of meat. As her digestion became less rigorous as she aged she decreased the size of her meals and never over ate. She didn't drink alcohol and limited her caffeine to one cup of black tea or coffee per day. She had gardened for years on her land but as her legs did not "work" as well as she approached ninety, she did her gardening in a small attached green house which she had built on her deck so she could easily get to it. Another important thing was she played bridge two times per week. She and her husband had been bridge champions in earlier years and she never gave it up; she enjoyed the mental challenge. She was also an avid reader and wrote books on the local history of the towns in the Sierras, her last book being about all the places she had lived from 1914 until 2006. She was a potter as well and we made various items together without a wheel - we called it primitive pottery - which was a great name for the crude plant pots and vessels that we made! Phyllis did not dwell on her health a lot. When she had various things happen physically we would discuss it and I would give her herbs and vitamins to help her out – then she would say, "enough talk about that; let's go do some pottery."
With all this said, I can summarize a philosophy about aging that I am trying to implement in my life that was inspired by Phyllis.
- Keep your food simple and nourishing, avoiding excesses of all kinds.
- Make sure not to skip meals and keep a rhythm in you life.
- Get regular sleep - 8 hours or more for rejuvenation.
- Don't over schedule yourself but do the things you know you can do without overworking. We don't have the reserves as we did when we were younger and excess working over a period of time will drain us. It will take a lot longer to rebuild as well.
- Keep yourself mentally engaged in reading, game playing, intelligent conversations, or leaning new skills. This keeps your brain happy and rejuvenating. Also, just as an aside, scientist have found when you watch television, your brain activity decreases by 25%! So shut of the TV and have game night at your house – using board games or cards!
- Get out and garden or do some physical work within your capacity. I have large gardens here and garden regularly - but I have allotted the very heavy work, to two teenage neighbors who do all the digging and hauling.
Food wise, you can add blueberries each day to your diet. A handful will help your brain to be clearer and revived. You can purchase fresh blueberries from the coop when they are in season otherwise the frozen are fine to you which the coop carries as well. Also, fish- wild caught is best- will help. If you cannot get fish or don't like eating it then take fish oil each day - 1000 to 2000 mg daily. This will also keep your joints and skin more supple.
Magnesium glycinate - 150 mg or more - will keep aches and pains away and to regulate the heart beat and keep the heart strong.
A multiple vitamin is good to take as well. I prefer a liquid multiple because I don't like swallowing pills.
Herbally, if you feel you have worn yourself out or you need to have more energy for your life, take ashwagandha two times daily - in the morning and afternoon with meals and with water or hot milk before bed to help with sleep.
You can get this bulk or already in capsules at the COOP. The dose would be ½ teaspoon per dose which is equivalent to three "0" capsules. You can also take ginkgo capsules or tinctures for helping with brain function as well. These can be taken with meals two or three times per day. Do not take ginkgo though if you are on blood thinners because it is a blood thinner as well.
What else did Phyllis teach me? She had a great appreciation of her life and the simplest things; she loved the pine trees around her house, her teapot, her food, her cat and dog and the people who she called family. So, try to cultivate some appreciation for the simple pleasures you have.
I hope this helps you out in the senior years.