You have to prepare for the last ten years of your life. No one likes to think about getting older. When people are asked, “How long do you want to live?” many say that it depends on how healthy they are. Most of us have seen an unhealthy or unstable loved one and our hearts go out to them. Usually, soon after, we make a promise to ourselves that we will not grow old.
What I have learned as a therapist and fitness professional is this…
Potentially, the most difficult years ahead of all us are the last ten years, especially if you do not prepare for them. Professionals typically refer to this group as the frail elderly. During this time period, we are less stable and prone to falls. We have nutritional problems due to poor dental health. We become isolated and lose touch with friends and family because of our lack of mobility. And it is during this period that we “pay for” our chronic bad habits, that for some include smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and excessive drinking, to name a few.
So the question is, how do we prepare for the last ten years of our lives?
First, take stock of where you are right now. Are you overweight? What does your diet look like? How strong are you? How often do you exercise? What does your social support system look like? What are your stress levels? How would you describe your relationships? Are you happy? Do you feel depressed or anxious most of the time? Do you have any chronic health problems? Hypertension? Type 2 Diabetes? Heart Disease?
Second, how old were your grandparents and/or parents when they died? This gives you some sense of when your last ten years will be. For me, this is likely going to be in my mid to late eighties but could be later since my father was a smoker and would have lived into his late eighties. My last ten years will be my eighties. I have twenty years to prepare for my last ten years.
Third, make a plan to do something. It really doesn’t take a lot to prepare. I teach people about: The Common-Sense Diet, Common-Sense Exercise, Stress Management (to include Mindfulness), Healthy Relationships, and How to be Happy.
I started on my journey, preparing for my last ten years, two decades ago. But honestly, I’ve been preparing most of my life by staying active, eating right, and doing all the things that I teach my clients. Your last decade can be meaningful, active, and enjoyable if you start preparing now. And consequently, the benefit of preparing now, will be a strong and healthy life now. What a nice thought.