Key to Longevity: Just Keep Going

Markus Gann/
Markus Gann/

One thing we all definitely have in common is time. Not enough of it, too much of it, hard times, good times — it just keeps ticking on.

To keep everything operational and well-oiled in the ol’ bod and mind, staying active and engaged is important, regardless of your age or situation. We sit isolated for hours, some of us for most of our days — at desks, in front of our computers and TVs, in the car.

Most bouts of loneliness, boredom and general restlessness or unease can be cured with movement and interaction. Even if that means scooting from one room to another and taking your eyes off the TV to chat with your spouse, write some old-fashioned notes on paper, take a walk, call a friend, or do a chore. My grandparents moved to their living room every evening for happy hour for 50-plus years — well into their 90s. Even when there was not much else they could do — that living room happy hour was a standing appointment.

To get more activity in your life, you have to take initiative and start moving. There’s a lot to do — take a look around your home, community and neighborhood. I’ve got great role models exhibiting this idea in practice. Both my parents have always kept busy with work, committees, social engagements, volunteering, and personal projects — even in their retirement.

My 74-year-old father has standing meet-ups with his buddies on different days for golf, lunch, happy hour, and morning coffee. He makes it to the gym for a light workout most weekdays. One day a week he delivers Meals On Wheels, dropping off food to folks who are homebound: a familiar face, a little chat — good for all involved. He and his friends also do “field trips” on DART. They map out a route they can take via train and bus and pick a distant restaurant, shop, site, or museum to visit. Seniors can ride unlimited on DART for a whole day for just $2.50. If you’ve got time to kill and an adventurous spirit, there’s a lot to do in our Metroplex — much of it at little to no cost.

My retired, 69-year-old mother goes to yoga most days, serves on various boards and committees, maintains the flora on her communal neighborhood traffic island, and very actively attends and supports local theater and other arts. That is, when she isn’t traveling somewhere to visit friends or further improve her fluent Spanish in another country.

Me? After writing those lists about my parents, I may be trailing behind the 70-year-olds as far as amount of activities go! I fill my free time with social engagements (so many casual and complimentary activities in Dallas: free art openings, wine tastings, yoga in Klyde Warren Park) and am always working on several creative projects — usually a few of which are volunteer.

How about you?

Casey StephanieStephanie Casey is the sometimes writer of the Frugal Foodie column for our Living Well section. This column was a special for this month’s Senior Living themed Living Well section. 

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