The popularity of TV’s “Walking Dead” brings to mind that perhaps all the fake make-up to create the shocking, post-deceased zombie images wasn’t necessary. The producers could’ve visited any nursing home or senior center and hired residents there who always sit blankly in the hallways or endlessly stare at the TV.
Many seniors my nonageranian age and younger are resigned to spend their sunset years in that not-quite-dead zone. It requires no effort, and primarily involves endless TV, napping and, of course, in the few awake moments, complaining about aches and pains.
Rather than let it happen to me, I believe strongly in heeding the advice of poet Dylan Thomas:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
How can seniors find ways to delay the inevitable mental and physical descent into nothingness? Put Dylon’s inspiring words into practical action:
Keep Moving: To assure physical fitness, I exercise daily. I swim pool laps, as well as take two 30-minute hikes. Of course, aches and pains of advanced age are always with me, but complaining doesn’t help. Sensible exercise and meaningful activities are the best medicine.
Never Stop Working: After a long career in advertising, I’ve continued my habit of daily writing on my trusty Macintosh. I believe the senior mind, like the aging body, will deteriorate when not exercised regularly.
The internet is a limitless resource of knowledge and information. Now much more extensive than all the combined libraries in history and growing daily, it offers a constant flow of illustration and inspiration.
Travel To Find New Experiences: Keep mentally and physically alert by getting up and out. In younger days, I traveled frequently while in Navy service, and later in my duties as a business convention planner. I still roam with road trips, cruises, flights and excursions.
Mark Twain wrote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Surround Yourself With Activities: Entertainment, computers, smartphones and TV offer continuous streams of experiences. Additionally, there’s nothing more enjoyable than live events. Seeing on-stage music, dramas and other theater offerings is always a mind-stretching exercise.
Give Back To Your Community: I was very fortunate to be able to enjoy a satisfying career, followed so far by more than 25 years of active retirement. I made positive efforts to break away from my comfort zone by helping other seniors.
For 20 years, I volunteered regularly at a local community center. My duties with seniors included teaching art and photography classes and escorting day trips. I enjoyed mental and physical stimulation from my efforts at least as much those I helped.
Summary: Since my first day of retirement, I’ve continued to do everything possible to avoid falling into a static, walking-dead zombie zone. I believe vigorous activities, both mental and physical, are the keys to healthy, satisfying sunset years.