I recently spent a month living with my 94 year old parents, after being isolated from them for over two years due to the COVID pandemic. Here are some of the lessons I learned:
- Stay physically and mentally active, fit and flexible to the greatest possible extent
- Get outside frequently. At least every day, ideally a lot more.
- Practice good hygiene and diet
- Move into a social housing situation well before it’s too late (eg late 70s)
- Resist the urge to hoard – learn to let go
- Keep the world around you orderly. Chaos and clutter can form a vicious cycle.
- Develop systems for things that are increasingly hard
- Create a repository for important information and keep it maintained
- Try to recognise and embrace your limitations, and develop workarounds for them
- Get help where you need it. You will need it. Plan ahead so you are ready when you need it.
- Follow the advice of your medical (and other) professionals. Don’t blow them off.
- Listen to your kids, and communicate clearly, openly, and honestly with them. Follow their collective advice. Assign powers of attorney that will make it easier for everyone.
- Maintain old relationships and friendships
- Keep making new friends
- Keep learning new things
- Stay engaged with creative and purposeful activities
- Practice gratitude and optimism
- Don’t watch the TV news. At least not constantly. Choose appropriate and diverse information sources.
- Make time for play and playfulness
- Try not to sweat the small stuff.
And the bottom line
- Love yourself as a friend would love you, even if there aren’t many left. You are worthy of it.