Maintaining Quality of Life as People Live Longer

Meet Father Time, it’s constant and relentless. My wife just had her 45th birthday and took a test which predicted that she would live to 102. That means she could potentially live another 57 years! Sheesh, our kids have moved out, we’ve already lived on three different continents, and I’ve been involved in four start up companies. What will we do for another 57 years? Well, the truth is,  there’s still a lot of quality living to be had!
And quality of life is something I think about seriously. A long life without independence would not be fun. We all need to make a commitment to keeping our minds and bodies in good shape since human life expectancy continues to  grow.

BACKGROUND:

First, let me explain that I have enjoyed a very active life style. I played varsity basketball and baseball in high school. In college, I participated in competitive intramural sports. I’ve enjoyed skiing, running, boxing and weight-lifting at different points in my life. In any competition, I’ve pushed myself hard.
It was about when I turned 42 (I’m 47 now), that my body started to deteriorate rapidly. I first hurt my knee on a 22-mile run tuning up for the Vancouver (BC) marathon. I had surgery for to repair the meniscus, but still have a tear straight down my ACL. Then, I hurt my spine sparring with a local boxing team. Later, I aggravated it further diving for a loose ball playing basketball when an opposing player accidentally kicked my face and snapped my neck back. I had numbness in my left side for a week and the doctors found a ruptured disc in my neck.
I knew then I would have to take care of my body to maintain a reasonable quality of life into my later years. Since then, here is how I’m investing in the quality of my life moving forward.

OUTLOOK:

  • Think in positive terms as much as possible. Not in a “golly isn’t the world wonderful” way, but positive within a pragmatic context.
  • Be open to new experiences. In fact, look for it. 
  • Embrace young people’s perspectives, or at least try to understand them. In the modern world, changes are occurring at a historic pace and young people are usually most in tune.
  • Let people give me energy. 
  • Avoid people who drain energy from me. There are a few and recognizing them quickly is key.
  • Find situations and people that/who make me laugh – a lot.
  • Be thankful. 
  • Dress age-appropriate but stay current without getting into gaudy brands. Banana Republic is good.

MIND:

  •  Learn different languages. Currently working on Spanish. Learned French late in life and grew up with English and Korean.
  •  Surf the web rather than watching television. Studies show much more brain activity surfing the web.
  • Participate in social media
  • Write regularly
  • Read regularly
  • Mediate. I try to mediate three times a week. 

EXERCISE:

  • Hot (Bickram) Yoga: Requires singular focus. Detoxifying, complete body stretch, improves balance and strengthens spine. Also burns around 1120 calories (90 minutes) at my weight.
  • Weight lifting: Medium weights. Focus on lower body as that is the area that really determines an individual’s ability to maintain independence in older age. Maintain lean muscle mass despite aging.
  • Walking: I try to walk as much as reasonable. I take the bus to work so I can walk. I try to eat lunch somewhere more than five blocks from the office. I try to park away from the entrance wherever I drive.
  • Play golf.
  • Stretch each morning.
  • Make sure to get your head below your heart for a couple minutes each day.

FOOD:

  • I know I can’t diet so I never do
  • I, however, try to to eat more complex carbs than simple ones in a day
  • Always enjoy what I eat and don’t stress about calories. Just make good choices more times than not.
  • Never eat when feeling stressed. No quick lunch between meetings. I either have time for a proper meal or I’ll just snack until I have time.
  • Never eat in the car or while walking (ok, except maybe after the bars close late at night).
  • Usually try to match up green vegetables with red meat.
  • Eat fish at least three times a week.
  • Love colorful vegetables and look for them often.
  • Eat European portions and not American portions. Never judge food by quantity.
  • Eat kiwis or plumbs or other acidic fruits following any heavy meals.
  • Drink tea with or after most meals. See what the Chinese eat and stay thin? Yes, tea.
  • Drink liquid calories very slowly. Usually treat it as a meal, even soy lattes.
  • Hydrate continuously.
  • Take multi-vitamins.

These things are such a part of my lifestyle I don’t have to think much about them. Hope you have your routine as well. 

 

Shari & John with a lot of years left
Shari & John with a lot of years left