I peek in the mirror and wonder how I made it this far. The ancient face and body tell me I’m just weeks away from my 90th birthday! What happened to the energetic young guy who swam butterfly on the state champ high school team, ran the 100 in track and did Navy duty in two wars?
Maybe I’m still here because I believe the key to continued good health at advanced age is daily exercise, both physical and mental. I start with 15 minutes of stretches in front of the boob tube, and then take morning and afternoon hikes of an hour each.
I enjoy city scenery and park greenery, enhancing my positive mental attitude for the day. With my digital camera, I snap interesting people, flowers, construction, traffic, pets and and other scenes I encounter. It keeps me alert and aware of my surroundings.
A busy schedule of daily brain exercise is as important as keeping my body active. During a long career in advertising, I had to meet strict deadlines. Now, 25 years after retiring, I still do today.
I’m at my desktop computer for at least six hours, writing and posting daily articles on several websites. I need to do considerable research to maintain accuracy and timeliness. It all involves as much mental flexing for the brain as stretches and hikes do for the body.
Additionally, as computers and the internet grow in sophistication, I hone my creative skills. The ever-evolving tech challenges are great brain exercises. I also maintain regular online correspondence with family and friends, as well as with former work associates and shipmates.
Of course, it won’t last forever. Facing inevitable mental and physical slowdown, I’ve pondered what will happen when I can’t continue an active daily schedule. A few years ago, I considered total retirement and visited a senior care center (i.e. nursing home).
The activities director cheerfully told me how elderly residents had a busy daily schedule of lectures, movies, games, exercise, field trips and museum visits. At the same time, I couldn’t ignore the stark reality all around me. The center’s hallways were lined with seniors, many younger than my years, motionless in chairs and wheelchairs.
As long as I can exercise brain and body daily, it won’t happen. However, when the moment occurs, I hope I’ll be walking across a busy Beverly Hills street. Then, an inattentive, texting billionaire movie (or reality TV) star driving an expensive Lamborghini makes contact with me. Result: I’ll go knowing my kids will richly remember me.