As November is the sunset of a calendar year so is old age the setting sun for a senior’s life. But the golden years can be good if one prepares for aging according to Lindsay Green, author of “You Could Live a Long Time, Are You Ready?” This and other books and magazine articles on the subject of aging are gold mines of ideas for enjoying old age.
Some of these insights may be contrary to what Filipinos hold dear back home. In the Philippines parents give their children everything to help them become responsible adults looking after their own family as well as aging parents. For Filipinos growing old in Canada, the situation may be different making it necessary to adapt to conditions for aging in the Western world.
Most first-wave Filipino immigrants who arrived in their prime have aged in Canada with pensions and savings for their declining years. Retirement is the time to use their money on themselves and enjoy it. It’s not the time to worry about the financial situation of the younger generations. They've taken care of their children for many years giving them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now for the young ones to save for their own future.
Below are words of wisdom from seniors who have adapted to the western lifestyle of retirement and discovered the secrets of aging happily.
1. Use your money on yourself. This is a bad time for an investment, even if it seems fool-proof. They often bring worries and this is a time to enjoy peace and quiet.
2. Keep a healthy lifestyle, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get enough sleep. Keep in touch with your doctor and get tested even when you're feeling well. Stay informed about how to be healthy at your age.
3. Always buy the best for your life partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then, so enjoy it together while you can.
4. Don't stress over the little things; they will soon be forgotten. Don't let the past drag you down nor let the future scare you. The important thing is the present. Feel good in the now.
5. Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbors. Keep old friends, make new ones and treasure friendships old and new.
6. Feel nice, both inside and out. Go to your hair salon or barber regularly, do your nails. Visit your dentist for a pretty smile and good teeth. Don’t follow fashion trends blindly. Stick to your own sense of style and what looks good on you.
7. ALWAYS stay up-to-date. Read newspapers, watch the news. Learn basic computer technology to keep in touch with what is going on with people you know by email or facebook.
8. Have young friends. Respect their opinions. They are the future. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them of yesterday's moral values that still apply today.
9. Never say: "In my time." Your time is now. As long as you're alive, you are part of this time. You are still you now.
10. Life is too short to waste on regrets. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people. Bitter and resentful people will make you older and harder to be around.
11. Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren (if you can help it). Being surrounded by family may sound great, but you need your privacy and so do they. If you've lost your partner, find a person to move in with you and help out. But do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone.
12. Don't abandon your hobbies. If you don't have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess. You can volunteer at an NGO or just collect something you like and enjoy it.
13. Even if you don't feel like it, accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, picnics. Get out of the house, meet people you haven't seen in a while, experience something new (or old). But don't get upset when you're not invited. Some events are limited by resources. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time, even just to walk around the block and smile at people you meet.
14. Talk less and listen more. Don’t talk about your illnesses and pains or other people’s illnesses. Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Don’t dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life.
15. Listen and answer questions but don't go off into long stories about your experiences even when politely asked. Try not to complain or criticize; accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through some problem. It’s better to find some good things to say.
16. Try to minimize your troubles in your mind. They are not who you are but something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person that you are.
17. If you've been offended by someone - forgive. If you've offended someone - apologize. It doesn't matter who was right. Forgiveness will set you free to move on with your life.
18. If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don't waste time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you say. Live your faith and set an example.
19. Laugh A LOT. Laugh at least once a day. You are one of the lucky ones to have a long life. Many never get to experience a full life. But you did so be happy and grateful for it.
20. Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They'll do it anyway. Have pride in yourself and your achievements.
While aging graciously is not all about money, it helps to have enough for a decent and comfortable lifestyle not dependent on your children for support. Be independent as long as you can but don’t be too proud to accept help. Aging people have disabilities. Accept help graciously if offered.
And when you can no longer live by yourself, spend the rest of your savings on the best nursing home your money can afford. Don’t skimp on this to leave money for your children. At this stage in your life, you need your money more than they do. Go ahead and spend their inheritance.
Eleanor R. Laquian
For the Canadian Filipino Net Editorial Board
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