• Susan L.

What age is old?

If you have been following my posts, you may have noticed that aging has been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it has something to do with the passage of time as we enter into a new year, or just the place where I am at presently. But eventually, it will happen to all of us. In fact, it is happening right at this very moment!

At some point in our lives we all start to think of ourselves as getting older. But what age is that exactly? I believe that somewhere in our 20's, we begin a very slow decline with our bodies and minds. In our 30's, subtle signs of age start to appear. For me it was finding my first grey hair when I was about 35, and noticing the tell-tale signs of wrinkles and crow's-feet around the eyes.

When I turned 40, my eyesight had completely changed, and I suddenly needed to wear glasses all the time; not just for reading or computer work anymore. Other changes started to appear almost as quickly. I soon discovered that I didn't have as much energy as I used to, and began feeling unfamiliar aches and pains in my body. Pretty soon, getting a good night's sleep became a thing of the past as I was going through "the change."

I think it finally dawned on me one day that I was getting older, when I ordered a glass of wine with dinner, and I actually felt a bit flattered when the waitress asked to see my ID. Now that I am in my mid-fifties, I am acutely aware of the shift that has taken place in my life; whenever or however it happened. My body has gone through a multitude of changes lately, and I have slowly accepted it and learned to adapt.

Now that I have reached a certain stage and I look back on my life, I can honestly say that I would not want to go back again for a do-over. I have come too far and learned too much to want to turn back time and be young again. I actually like the way my life is now. My kids are grown, I no longer have to work outside my home, and I am lucky enough to have a certain amount of flexibility, that was not available to me when I was younger.

So how do we stand the test of time when so many things are out of our control? I believe the key is how well we care for ourselves now, which will make a big difference in our later years to come. Our bodies are not the only thing that goes through changes; our nutritional needs change as well. We still require the same amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but it becomes more of a challenge to get enough of the important sources.

For instance, after age 50 it becomes harder for your body to absorb vitamin B-12 due to a decrease in stomach acid which is needed to break down B-12 from the food sources you eat. This important vitamin plays a key role in DNA production, nerve health, and the formation of red blood cells.

Vitamin D is another important vitamin that is needed in order for our body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D and calcium are both necessary to prevent bone loss, and promotes a healthy nervous system. This vitamin is made by our bodies through the skin when exposed to sunlight. Aging skin is not as efficient at producing vitamin D, and there are few foods that contain this vitamin. I personally take a supplement that has both calcium and vitamin D-3.

Although getting all the necessary vitamins are important for optimal health, the best way to get them is through the foods you eat. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet should always be part of the plan as you age. If you think you are not getting an adequate amount of nutrition from your diet, you may want to consider taking a supplement. Just make sure to consult with your doctor first. Supplements can have dangerous side effects, especially when taken in high doses!

For me personally, I have several food allergies and most recently; a gluten intolerance. This has made it more challenging to get the important vitamins I need from the foods I eat, because I must alter my diet. Taking certain supplements helps to fill in the gaps.

Stress is another thing that can cause you to age faster. Even though my life has changed drastically in the past decade since I have become my parent's caregiver, I still suffer from some serious bouts of stress. My mother passed away almost 7 years ago, and my father requires more care now. As much as I try not to worry about the future, it likes to sneak into my thoughts occasionally. However, it does help to keep things in perspective.

When I do have high periods of stress, I notice that my body reacts to my emotions and I usually end up getting sick. I have learned to listen to my body, and give it what it needs before disaster strikes. Whether it's more rest, better food, or just a nice hot bath. It all plays a big part in staying healthy until life becomes more manageable again.

Age, in my opinion is not just the amount of time that I have been alive. I see it more as a period of growth and evolution. My body may not feel the way that it once did, or my memory may not be as keen, but I for one, refuse to throw in the towel and go down without a fight. It is my belief that being a "certain" age is purely circumstantial.

Aging for some, seems to happen much more quickly than it does for others. Much of it may certainly be situational, but that doesn't mean we don't have any choices in the matter. It is up to us, to let it either make us or break us. On the other hand, being "over the hill" might be more about attitude, and exist only in the mind of the beholder. Instead, why not give it the potential to become one of the best parts of your life!

Wishing you all peace and good health!