Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Twenty lessons to live a long and happy life. (Part 1)

“By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea…”, this 1914 song is just as great today as it was back then, and so are its singers! I’ve just completed a fantastically positive extended stay in a senior citizens’ residence in Florida. True. I may not fit the average resident age of poo poo poo 95 yet, but they let me in just the same. Before I left my home, I wondered, what would I do all day? How could I relate to the octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians with whom I’d be spending my time?
Well, thank G-d, I did great! Like everyone in the residence, I was busy from morning to night, and I spent quite a bit of time speaking to the terrific folks that lived there. I shmoozed in the gym, in the dining room and in the hallways. And we did fun activities together too.
I didn’t have connectivity in Florida (so more or less no internet [I survived]), and I didn’t waste my time. I soon noticed that these spectacular silver citizens had lots in common that may very well contribute to their longevity and laughter. I wrote down 20 DOs that I learned from the folks I met. Here are the first ten (in no particular order).
1. Eat blueberries. I’m putting this at the top of the list, because every day began with blueberries. Yes, ba ba ba baaaa super-blueberries! They’re filled with vitamins and fiber; they reduce cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease. They help improve memory!! They’re also yummm. And they are the object of every day’s conversation, “Do you know how much these cost in the store? Well, today….”
2. Smile a lot. No matter where we were in this Florida residence, everyone was smiling – the staff and the residents. I thought it must be something in the water, but I guess it began with a conscious effort to smile, and now everyone who walks through the sliding doors smiles. Even if they aren’t feeling tops, they smile at the moment. That encourages everyone who looks at them to smile too. And isn’t it a great feeling to walk around a place where folks looked so happy?
3. Own your age. I did not meet one person in the residence who was embarrassed about or hesitant to admit his/her age. In fact, they were proud of their age, and even prouder of their friends who had hit 101, 103 and 105. They looked at every year as a blessing.
4. Don’t/act your age. I never heard once during my stay in the senior residence, “I can’t go/do/participate because I’m old, or I’m __ (whatever age).” If an activity included lots of walking, so they walked less. If it including lots of listening, and they didn’t hear very well, so they did their best. I even spent one morning on the treadmill with a lady of 105 on the treadmill next to me. Okay, she walked at speed 2, but helllooo, she was walking on the treadmill. I wish that I and everyone reading would be able to walk on the treadmill at 105.
5. Greet everyone by name. I’m a friendly person and I can usually recognize familiar faces, but I’m bad with names. I better up my game. No matter where we went, the seniors and staff greeted every single person by their first name. Everyone’s name was important. Every person mattered. None of the staff were “the waitress” or “the desk clerk”. They were Melissa, Aggie, a name, a person who matters. And every resident was Helen, Audrey, Edith…What a great you-are-our-friend vibe!
6. Hug. Everyone there hugged all the time. On the way into dinner, into the shows, going into a car. Hug hug hug. The seniors hugged the waitresses, the residence’s administration, and the activity leaders. You could hardly walk out of a room without hugging someone. Now, I’m a big hugger, but they out-hugged me by miles. Who could be lonely, depressed or feel in a bad mood when you’re sharing hugs? I just found out that hugs strengthen the immune system, relax tension and even improve sleep quality. Besides all that, they feel great and spread love and caring. {{{xoxo}}}
7. Be pleasant. Unfortunately, seniors and anyone who lives life can suffer from many troubles – bad legs, bad hearing, high cholesterol, diabetes. There is no lack of tzores, but the majority of the seniors around me didn’t kvetch. Pleasant people really are happier, and they make those around them happier too. Grumpy Old Men may be a TV show (or maybe it’s a movie – I don’t get out much), but I noticed that at this senior residence, there was no atmosphere of nastiness or gripe, and very little self-pity. Acting pleasant then domino-ed to everyone around them.
8. Say yes/Say no. Who’s not tired after lunch? I know quite a number of countries whose residents take a siesta or afternoon break. But then, it’s time to jump/glide/ease back into action. My senior gang could have taken their naps and said, “We’ll just hang out until dinner,” but they said “yes” to playing rummy cub, canasta, mahjong, going to a class. Then again, no one can hulya morning, noon and night, so it’s wise to know your limits and say “no” sometimes. It will enable you to say “yes” when something special comes up.
9. Move. Moving around is an essential of life here.
Residents walk from their rooms to the elevator to the dining room to the theater. When they go on trips, they walk to the movies or in the mall. Mobility is critical for seniors – especially for the simple tasks of getting out of bed, heading to the bathroom, walking to the kitchen.  Mobility keeps you social and “in the game.” Speaking of mobility, I wrote that a lady of 105 was on the treadmill near mine. The speed she walked was not important, but the fact that she walked was amazing. Whenever the subject of mobility came up, the seniors said, “We’re going to keep moving around as long as we can!” May they succeed.
10. Look pretty, feel pretty. Look handsome, feel great. When I was younger Thursday was beauty parlor day. At the senior residence, any day that someone could get a lift to the beauty parlor made it “beauty parlor day”. Every day I was impressed that everyone B”H looked so great. Their hair was coiffed, their clothing clean and it was clear to see that everyone took pride in their appearances. The result - surely higher self-esteem, more interaction with their friends and an enhanced feeling of “I am dressed to take on the world.” You go, guys!
More to come.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the advice. Was this a Jewish home? My parents were in a "goyish" one in AZ which was wasn't as friendly. It could have been the culture.
    I'm glad you had a great time. It sounds like a fantastic summer camp but all year. Keeping busy is so important.


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