|This book has a secondary romance: 2 senior citizens!|
Our conversation ranged from what makes someone seem old to stories about my grandfather who was 100 when he passed away.
My grandfather was as vitally alert and intelligent until the day he passed. Everything I've read about aging makes me think about him because he lived a lifestyle that was exactly what is espoused by all doctors and scientific studies.
I guess I've patterned many of the senior citizen characters in my novels after him and the other remarkable, long-lived seniors I've known. In several of my novels, like Still The One for instance, I've had a secondary romance involving senior citizens.
So how come some senior citizens are vibrant and engaging and others are mere shells? The subject is interesting. After all, none of us are growing younger each day. So I thought I'd pass along some information I read recently and show it in relationship to my grandfather's life.
What the Medical Community Says
To be healthy, mentally and physically, do these things:
All studies show exercise is crucial. When aerobic exercise like walking is combined with strength training, the rewards are even greater. A 30 minute session is better than three 10 minute sessions. My grandfather walked at least a mile or two every day.
2. Engage in activities that challenge your brain.
Read books, write letters, and learn something new like a language or how to navigate Facebook, etc. My grandfather worked crossword puzzles every day. He was a voracious reader. When he was in his 70's, he bought a portable typewriter. He wrote me a letter just about every week. One of his favorite sayings was: "Learn something new every day, and you'll be smarter and happier."
3. Avoid isolation.
Strengthen your friendships and family relationships. Meet new people. Volunteer, join a club, or a special interest group like bridge club. Go to worship services, and talk with friends. My grandfather was sociable. When he moved into a retirement home, he was the one everyone gravitated to.
4. Eat a healthy diet.
If you're eating margarine, convenience foods, fast food, and too much empty calorie foods, make a list of changes you can make to get better nutrition. Tackle it one step at a time. My grandfather never ate sweets. He just didn't care much for them. He ate simple meals and snacked only on fresh fruit. He never ate after supper. He drank mostly water, tea, and coffee.
5. Get a good night's sleep.
Sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep is linked to cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's. Sleep apnea puts people at higher risk for memory problems and dementia so if you think this may be a problem for you, talk to your doctor.
My grandfather went to bed at the same time every night. He also rose every morning at the same time. Two hours after lunch, he'd lay across his bed and take an hour's nap. My brother and I were talking about that one day because neither of us nap. We sometimes feel like a nap, but we never give into the feeling because we always have so much to do. I wonder sometimes if this was a key to my grandfather's longevity.
6. Keep your heart healthy.
Studies show that what's good for the heart is good for the brain. Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. My grandfather had no heart issues until his last year. His heart problem was due as much to age as anything because he never had high blood pressure or cholesterol issues.
Take charge of your life now. Make changes now. Design your old age the way you want it to be. Who knows? Maybe you'll inspire an author to create a character after you.
Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. In 2017, new print editions of her books will be published.
All of Joan's books have the same underlying theme: It's never too late to live happily ever after. Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.
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