Guest Post: How to Grow Old With Gusto

Editor’s Note: Gail Zugerman, author of this contribution to JSA, is founder of GRF Marketing, Ltd., based in Chicago since 1983, has provided marketing strategy consulting through the use of qualitative research for clients throughout the United States and the UK. Her involvement in consumer and medical marketing has led her write and attend conferences on issues pertaining to Baby Boomers and aging. She blogs at Growing Old with Gusto.

Gail Zugerman
Gail Zugerman

The Wall Street Journal (November 30, 2014) had an entire section dedicated to the issue of “Why Everything You Know about Aging Is Probably Wrong”. Researchers are now finding out that the aging baby boomer population can enter the next phase of their life with what I like to say “gusto.”

I personally interviewed 25+ individuals from age 75-102 during the past few years, whom I felt were growing older in a positive way to ferret out nuggets of information that could help my generation of baby boomers move ahead in a way that could remove the ancient perceptions that aging was an inevitable way of becoming invisible.

I came up with 10 ways that my generation could remove their fears of aging and move forward so that they and their family and friends could really enjoy this stage of life. I have listed these ideas below.

  1. Preserve your health. Always take good care of yourself physically and mentally. People who are aging well report using common sense and having the presence of mind to eat less red meat, sugar and implement portion control into their diet. They get physical exams regularly and don’t let health issues slide. Mental well- being is maintained by staying alert, reading daily newspapers and having a daily routine.
  2. Listen Well. Listen to what others say and answer responsibly, consider what the other person wants and think about how to respond to them.
  3. Think about the future. Be a futurist and don’t live in the past. It’s not healthy and boring to those around you. Try to envision what you want the world to be like for your children and grandchildren.
  4. Prepare for the future. Be ready for it and you will age more successfully. Don’t fear the future and look forward to the changes. See it as part of your life’s adventure.
  5. Create a friendship chain. Maintain your social connections. It is crucial to your longevity and should transcend to all age levels.
  6. Maintain a sense of humor. Have the grace to tell a good joke! The best way to deal with the curves that life sends your way is to see the humor in the situation and not take things too seriously. Recent reports show that laughing every day is good for the heart and the skin!
  7. Live honestly. Be true to the person you are and the authenticity will be a magnet to other people. You will sleep better at night and enhance your overall health.
  8. Volunteer in your neighborhood. Always strive to be a good neighbor and do something to improve it. You can help plant flowers in a neighborhood park or serve on a committee in your building.
  9. Stay involved and connected. The important thing to remember if you are retiring is to branch out of your group of colleagues and friends and try something new that has piqued your interest. The results will be surprising and keep you young. This also applies to those who are not retiring.
  10. Be constantly curious. Never stop learning. Take up a new kill like learning how to play a new instrument. We can learn from those younger and those older than ourselves. Curiosity helps the brain age better, keeps you vital, and more in sync with the world.

There are many more ideas for aging with gusto – stay tuned for my next commentary!

3 Comments

  1. I recently read this:
    “For too long, we’ve had a youth-obsessed culture that tends to train us in seeing aging as something to fight rather than celebrate. In most indigenous and traditional cultures, elders are revered for the wisdom, beauty and love they can offer the entire community.

    It’s time for us all to turn the page on a new story, one in which our later years are our BEST years — a time in which we harvest the fruits of a lifetime, find a fulfilling vision for our best contribution and truly BE the change that we seek in the world.

    New bodies of research show that our beliefs about aging affect our longevity, vitality and enthusiastic engagement with life. When we see our elder years primarily as a time of decline, marginalization or loneliness, that is what we’ll tend to create.

    Instead, what if you were to forge a vision for your aging journey that is far more empowering — one in which you see your later years as a time in which you can give some of your greatest gifts, savor the fruits of a lifetime of maturation of skills and serve the deepest needs of our time?

    Wise, engaged and caring elders are essential for our world now. So many of our collective challenges are born of conflict, misunderstanding, greed, unhealed wounds and lack of foresight — all areas that elders are naturally gifted in helping to solve.”

What are your thoughts?