If you are a baby boomer like me, you are realistically in the last third of your life. The good news is that you are still young enough to make changes. Why make changes? To increase the probability that your final years will be good ones. I’m talking about some of the basics of a happy life: staying mobile and avoiding dementia. Lots of folks worry about running out of money when they hit that last decade. I’m more concerned about staying functional. What good is money if all of it is being spent on nursing home care?
I follow several blogs and sites that publish excellent information about “primal living.” One of them is Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark writes about “primal living in the modern world.” He doesn’t want to turn you into a caveman. (Actually, the Fred Flintstone “caveman” thing is mostly a myth. The majority of our hunter-gather ancestors moves around on the savannas of Africa.) Instead, Mark wants the best of both worlds: Importing healthy ancient habits into a modern lifestyle.
Mark’s Daily Apple recently published an article on How to Ensure Your Final Years Are Good Ones. This article really got my attention because it covers lifestyle habits well beyond eating. You should read it.
Mark starts with stating his basic goals as he nears age 100:
- Fix a meal for myself.
- Go for a walk.
- Use the stairs.
- Use the bathroom without help.
- Lift a grandkid or two.
- See where I’m going.
- Recall distant memories.
- Create new ones.
- Hold conversations.
- Play – and play hard.
- Be witty.
- Be sharp.
All of those sound good to me – how about you?
So how do we reach our last decade with this list in mind?
Mark lists 27 recommended steps and backs them up with research. I’m following most of them, some more vigorously than others. These steps are not difficult other than for many of us, getting started means breaking some lifelong bad habits and/or delving into some areas that are new to most us, e.g., meditation.
I see several personal examples of “out with the old, in with the new” habits on Mark’s list.
I never paid attention to the health benefits of meditation until my therapist brought them to my attention. Now it’s a daily practice.
Two years ago I had never tasted coconut oil. Now I buy it in 1.5 liter containers and cook with it daily. It’s awesome and the healthiest cooking fat you can use.
Vitamin D? Thanks to my physician, I discovered that problem last month. I’ve already noticed positive changes from taking a supplement. For example, my gums would occasionally bleed despite my flossing. That has stopped – just like that. Who knew? A little research confirmed the relationship between vitamin D and good oral health. (In fact, I would add “keep my teeth” to Mark’s list of final years goals.)
Fermented foods? I have always liked sauerkraut so now I buy it non-pasteurized (this is key) at Whole Foods. So delicious and so healthy. Kimchi? I tried it and it’s not for me – yet.
Sleeping? I am trying to stay on a consistent “early to bed and early to rise” schedule, somewhat following the sunlight cycle and getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Sometimes this means wearing a sleep mask to block out ambient artificial light but I am used to that.
Again, I encourage all of you to check out Mark’s excellent article and look at his research.
It’s never too late or too soon to take steps to insure that our last years are good ones.