I recently completed, “Rethinking Aging,” a free on-line course with Melbourne University, Australia, through Coursera.org. It forced me to think about my future and how aging may impact my independence, living situation, health, and activities. I highly recommend this course for everyone, since knowledge can have a positive impact on how we adapt to aging. One of the most enlightening aspects of this course is the concept of aging in various cultures. At what age a person is considered old, how the elderly are treated in different cultures, and the best/worse countries in which to be elderly are just a few of the eye-openers.
Below I share my final assignment: my life twenty-five years from now.
My days pass quickly now that I take naps. I continue my routine of stretching and exercising upon awakening. It is increasingly difficult to limit this to just an hour. But instead of taking medication for arthritis, I’d rather clip and pop myself in place. I watch the morning news show to assist me in keeping track of time even though the news is so depressing. Wars, crime, and politics may not brighten the start of my day, but it’s the easiest way for me to keep track of current events.
After an hour, I finish my bedside glass of water, take my medications, and dress to either walk outdoors or go to the fitness center. If the weather is horrible I may stay home and walk on my treadmill and use my weights. Now that I’m 85, I eat a piece of fruit before I start my walk or leave the house. I used to work out on an empty stomach but now get dizzy if I try to burn calories I don’t have. I start a second bottle of water and try to finish it by the end of my workout. Dehydration could land me in a hospital.
When I’m through revving my metabolism, I dress for the day. Once a week I treat myself to the jetted tub. Once I get pretty, I’m ready for a healthy breakfast and to start on my day’s priority. Between volunteering at church, getting a massage, attending a writing critique group, reading the book selected by my book club, or writing, the day passes. I check my calendar for doctor appointments, upcoming trips, and when I will next enjoy the company of my children and grandchildren.
I now pay for some household help, but I still try to wash floors, change beds, and do laundry. I keep in mind that the less I do, the less I will be able to do. I still cook because I love my own cooking. About twice a week I have friends or family over for meals. It’s so hard to cook for one, and by sharing I receive invitations to eat with others. Too bad most of my friends can’t cook their way through a detailed recipe.
I always need something to look forward to. As usual, I have a bus trip scheduled to a casino and two future cruises booked. I volunteer at local museums, which assures that I’ll know the dates of new exhibits. The Boardwalk Art Show is one of my favorite volunteer activities. I man (or woman) the information booth.
Traveling has become a bit arduous. Of course, I turn my luggage over to the first skycap I see and I don’t want to see it again until it’s in my cabin or hotel room. The airports are so confusing–too many people walking fast, too much noise, too many announcements. The last time I flew, I opted for a wheelchair and plugged in earbuds as soon as I entered the airport. My eyes were closed behind my shades, but who knew? And once I’m at my destination or on a cruise ship, I make sure I keep a hard copy of the agenda on me and set the alarm on my phone to insure I’m on time for entertainment and meals. There are so many distractions that make me forget what’s next.
I’ve slowed down so much. I get tired during the day. No way can I miss my daily nap. If I don’t set my alarm to awaken from a nap, I may sleep for four hours. My sleep needs to be as routine as my meals or I get disoriented.
I miss so many of my friends and family who’ve passed on. I feel blessed that I make friends easily through my activities. Also, I’m fortunate to have relocated within a short distance from my children. I speak with my daughter every day, and my son a few times a week. This reminds me of when they had first established their own households. Only back then they’d call to share exciting news or for advice. Now they call to insure that I’m still alive, I guess. I don’t have any serious health issue other than the one for which there is no cure–I’m really old and things are bound to wear out. So I take advantage of the time I have left and do as much as I can.