Tag Archives: healthy aging

Make Life Sense-ational

Walk in the park

Today I asked myself the following question.  When was the last time you paid attention to your five senses? And I have decided to use the day to take notice of how often I:

Look without seeing; Hear without listening; Touch without feeling; Eat without tasting; Breathe without smelling.

Most of the time our senses are asleep.  We turn them off so that they don’t interfere with what we are doing.  So today I am going to turn my senses back on. How will I do this?

On my walk today I am going to really notice things.  How lovely is that garden; how pretty the little girl walking alongside her mother; how good that shop window looks; how young and happy is that young woman.

And after my walk I am going to visualise as many of the things I saw.

On my walk I am also really going to listen to the sounds around me.  How noisy is that car; how plaintiff that baby’s cry.  Then when I return,  I am going to put on a CD and listen to the background music rather than the singer.  If I close my eyes will it be clearer?

And there are many things that I touch during my day.  Today I will make a point of being aware of them.  The touch of the computer keyboard, my small dog’s silky fur, my grandson’s hand in mine; my wet hair after it has been washed.

Smelling the flowers

We do eat without tasting so today I am going to savour the tastes of the food I put into my mouth.  The fruit with my Muesli had a different taste to the fruit on its own; the sandwich that I shall make for lunch tasting the various ingredients individually and as they combine, and then dinner.  I will also be aware of the taste of the tea and coffee that I will consume.

A good exercise is to fill a glass with water then keep sipping until you can describe its taste.  Not as easy as it sounds, but it will make you aware of how often we drink without tasting.

And smells.  The house is full of smells and today I am savouring them.  The cupboard where the spices are kept is a veritable cornucopia of smells.  The fresh flowers in the vase and of course in the garden assail the senses.  The smell of clean laundry taken off the line.  Exhaust from a dirty truck is not so pleasant.  Smells of bread baking waft out from the local bakery and the smell of coffee is to tempting to ignore.  Even different types of fruit have quite different smells.  Close your eyes and smell a sliced apple and then a sliced pear.

Then just enjoy being alive.  Be aware of the wind in your hair. How does it feel? Gently massage your temples for a few minutes.  Is there one area that provides the best relaxation? Put the hairdryer on cool or warm and play it onto your hand, arm or legs.  Can you describe how that feels.

So what’s the point of all this?  You may not like all the sensations but if you continue to be aware of your senses, even for brief periods of time, you will discover many pleasant sensations.

As always be grateful for the things you have.  See my blog on An Attitude of Gratitude.  Give thanks to your god or the Universe and always be aware of how fortunate we are.

Shall we dance?

Today, being the first day of the rest of my life, I am going to start a new routine.  I used to love to dance.  As a child having tap dancing and ballet lessons; as a teenager rocking to Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Tommy Steele among others; as a young wife and mother at balls and now…

Well it has been a while since I danced.  So today I am starting to dance to the music on the radio.  OK so I have to find a station that is more music than chat.  And if that fails, I will find a CD to dance to.

The dance and a person learning or teaching others to dance has been the subject of several memorable films.  Did you see the film with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon.?  Click here to see a short video. And earlier, Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in The King and I.

Not only does the act of dancing release energy it leaves one feeling re-energised.  All constraints fall away and a fantastic feeling of freedom is found.  This is what we should be looking for particularly as we age.  The positive reinforcements we receive whether dancing alone around the living room with one’s small dog for company, or with others are so uplifting and beneficial to our health and well-being.

I will add dance to my daily routine, of 5 Tibetan Rites and walking.  I am sure that in this way I can halt or at least slow down the changes that inevitably happen.

So today I shall find the music and start to dance.  And as always

If you get the choice to sit it out or dance;
I hope you dance.

Chronology vs Biology

Ask any of your friends and colleagues if they think aging is something that can be controlled and most will say that nothing  can be done about it, that it simply happens and that’s that.

By now you will know that my answer to that is that they are wrong.  We may be lucky in having good, long life genes but the choices we make throughout our lives have a much greater impact than the genes we have been dealt.

We know that our bodies are continuously replacing cells and that billions of cells are turned over daily.  And for this reason, we need to be careful of the lifestyle choices we make.  As much as possible, we need to ensure that those choices are good and healthy ones because the renewal process works best if we provide the proper nutrients.

Added to this healthy lifestyle of exercise, what, how and when we eat, is the ever-present matter of our mind.

We now know that along with this cell regeneration our brain cells also can regenerate.  Much research has led to this discovery and many learned papers have been written on the subject.

I have no formal medical degree; no degree in neurology and would not presume to discuss this in detail but I am convinced that we can halt the deterioration of our mind, by simply taking care not to let our mind lie idle for any length of time.

My father at age 80 was diagnosed with macular degeneration and was told that he would inevitably go blind.  Now he was one of that older generation used to fending for himself.  He did the crossword every day without fail and as soon as discovered he had this condition he set about (with the help of my sister) training himself to do the crossword even though he would be unable to read the clues or see how the words fitted in.  To do this he would have my sister read the clues and over time became quite adept at completing the crossword.

You see, he had seen how the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease had robbed my mother of the use of her mind and was determined that it wouldn’t happen to him.  I am pleased to report that when he eventually left this earth at age 97 he was in total control of all his faculties.

So here was another example of what I should do with the rest of my life.

There is a difference between our chronological age and our biological age.  Chronological age is determined by calculating the years between the date of our birth and now; biological age is calculated by how old we are perceived to be.  This is based on how we appear, feel and act.  Unfortunately, these age barometers are not often in step.

I certainly don’t feel 72 (my chronological age) and according to those around me I don’t act that age.  So let’s see what we can do to improve our biological age while ignoring our chronological one.

Have you heard of Mavis Lindgren?  She is the 90-year-old marathon runner.  She retired in 1997 after running her 75th marathon.  This from Patrick Roden, A critical care nurse, who was a medical volunteer at the Portland Marathon of 1992 when he came to the aid of the celebrated 85-year-old marathoner, Mavis Lindgren

“What makes her story all the more exceptional to me is that at age 62, Mavis was leading a sedentary life, spending most of time reading, writing and knitting. She had suffered four bouts of pneumonia in five years and, as a retired nurse, she knew the antibiotics weren’t the long-term solution. Something had to change. A doctor urged her to join an early bird walking group. At age 70, encouraged by her son, she ran her first marathon! Two years later, she established a record of 4:33.05, and for the next eight years, held the world’s best time for women 70 and over. And at 84 she finished the Los Angeles Marathon

in 6 hours 45 minutes-the fastest woman in her age category. “After I started running, I never had another cold,” she said”

I am not suggesting that we all become marathon runners, but I do suggest that we take time to look at our sedentary lives and introduce a little exercise into them.