By Marie Snider
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an old woman some day. Maybe it’s because I admired my grandmother so much—spunky, always laughing, with peppermint drops in her apron.
Once when I gave her a five-pound box of chocolates with money I earned myself, she advised me that I should be more frugal. That probably was the reason she was able to loan money to her children when they needed it.
I always thought of her as the “tall one,” and was shocked a few years ago to learn that she was a short 5’2”. But tall or short, everybody loved Grandma.
Late in his life, one of her sons-in-law told me how special she had been to him, saying, “She was a mother to me when my mother was gone.”
On the occasion of my 50th birthday, I sat on the slope of a mountainside in the Colorado Rockies and set my goals for the next 50 years. On the top of my list of goals was to arrive healthy and happy at age 100.
I still have that goal.
Dr. Walter Bortz, in his book “Dare to Be 100,” writes, “It is possible to reach 100 by chance, but it’s not likely.” Rather, it takes determination.
The best chapter of the book is titled “Ninety-nine Steps to 100.” Step 19 is “Believe in 100.”
Of course, we don’t know how long our life’s journey will last, but says Dr. Bortz, “One hundred years is not freakish. It can and should be ours, if we don’t mess it up, or unless the lightning strikes.”
So, believe in 100—and take the other 98 steps to arrive there healthy and happy.
Step 22 is “Be an Optimist.” Looking on the bright side is the recipe for staying alive and vibrant to age 100. If you’re prone to pessimism, the way to become an optimist is to act like one.
Laugh and smile, be friendly, have a problem-solving attitude, and always expect the best.
Steps 74-97 stress the importance of exercise. Dr. Bortz says, “Fitness for a young person is an option. Fitness for older people is an imperative.”
And Step 76 is “Realize It’s Never Too Late.” Even people of advanced ages can profit by an exercise regime.
Use it or lose it also applies to your brain. “Relearn, Rethink, Re-educate” is Step 69. A lifelong strategy of learning is very important. At age 89, Michelangelo said, “Thank God I can still learn.”
Step 40 is “Stay in Touch” with your friends and family. “Social ties double survival,” says Dr. Bortz.
And Step 41 is “Take RX Pet.” “Pets are wonderful for people of any age, but they are of particular significance to older people. . . . A pet is a fine doctor and a dear friend.”
Even with a life filled with exercise, friends, pets, healthy food, and optimism, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Do not try to live forever. You will not succeed.”
But on the other hand, you may live for a very long time whether you want to or not. So why not set your goal to arrive at 100 “healthy and happy?”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.visit-snider.com