Taking Control of the Aging Process

Taking Control of The Aging Process

Roslyn Aging Gracefully Health

“You look great for your age!” I’ve received this compliment as I’ve been aging through the decades and now, finally at age 76, I’m asking myself what does this really mean?

Is the compliment a disqualifier? We all have ideas of what we think a certain age should look like. We’ve looked at older people around us, watched how they behaved and what was important to them. Did they have wrinkles they’ve tried covering up, dyed their hair or even dressed fashionably?

These observations, plus what we’ve seen in the media, have formed the basis for our own thoughts about what the aging process should look like. We either liked what we saw or made declarations about not looking like that as we got older. And then we went about growing up and aging.

I’m aging – what can I do about it?

Like some things, aging is inevitable, but how we approach aging across the decades is really all up to us. Imagine what your future would be like if you’re someone who believes that it’s all downhill after 40.

Dr Christine Northrup, a renowned OB/GYN, states what you believe changes your biology. It’s an interesting point of view that takes our absorption of the information in literature, our inspirations and aspirations, the psychology of our attitude toward everything and anything one step further.

Our attitude physically impacts our biology. In her book, ‘Goddesses Never Age’, she states that our beliefs are far more powerful than we may have realized; it’s what we think — what’s in our brains — that has the greatest impact on our aging. Most of us learned that our genes affect our fate, however, Dr. Northrup proposes the opposite — our beliefs affect our fate.

Let’s look at what’s meant when we say, “I’m aging”. It can mean we’re all done with hot flashes, we need less sleep, our memory loss is on the rise, our energy is declining, we have more aches and pains to complain about, the rain keeps us home, our wrinkles are showing up and we might not feel ‘healthy’. It can be any number of things.

Being healthy, staying healthy

Our health is what we tend to interpret as being in decline and most of us say being healthy is our number one priority. Now “being healthy” is an interesting phrase because the first thought that comes to most minds is our weight, alongside whether we exercise enough and whether our nutrition is optimal. This is hardly surprising as health is a billion-dollar industry providing products all geared towards being healthy.

On a personal note, I’m overweight, not into exercise and rather sedentary. I’m nutritionally aware but not an abstainer from evening ice cream, good bread in a restaurant or chips at a party. And my blood work tells me I’m healthy.

Now those of you with expert knowledge in this area are bound to think, “but you are only 76 and if you don’t address these areas, you might not be so healthy in your 80’s & 90’s.”  I absolutely have to agree, based on all I know and read. I probably shouldn’t be so cavalier.

I use myself as an example rather than recite facts and figures because I am much like many an average woman.  I am a retired career counselor, now a jewelry designer. I raised a family and suddenly woke up to age 76 without having been present to how I got here. I wasn’t a woman who paid attention to her skin (fortunately, I did not have acne nor many wrinkles, although I do have freckles). I like to look in the mirror and see my familiar brown curls, so I hide the gray, and I have always been blessed with a high amount of energy.

But I’m no fool and since I started writing the series on ‘Aging Gracefully’, I decided to be more conscious and present to my process of aging.

 

Every day is a gift.

Given this is something I did not do all along, it is somewhat challenging.  Aging is a gradual process and so much depends on the areas of our bodies we wish to pay attention to. For some women, skin creams and cosmetic surgery is the key and they assume their heart will stay healthy. For others, having strong bones, good teeth and gums, having sex well on in years, staying sharp, getting 7-8 hours sleep and being able to run a race are all important variables.

There are definite differences and expectations as each decade passes us by.  An excellent source of information is AARP . I remember hesitating to apply and even thought, “I won’t be thought of as a young chick anymore”. Additionally, Google can lead to extensive information on health, exercise, fitness, nutrition from experts in each field.

10 things you can take control of as you age

  1. Skin: it’s unlikely you’ll have an acne breakout, but things do happen under the skin, like loss of muscle and elasticity that causes wrinkles. Maybe in our sixties blood vessels start to show, but they can be laser zapped. Botox treatments are widely being used to reduce wrinkles. Increased intake of water can prevent some of this.
  2. Senses: our vision and hearing can be impacted, but glasses, laser surgery and hearing aids can address this.
  3. Metabolism: it slows down and changes in our diet and exercise are generally needed. Taking the proper supplements, eating the right diet for our bodies can support our metabolism and overall health.
  4. Bones: they get weaker because our cells are not regenerating, but taking calcium supplements is generally a good idea to protect against breaks. Exercise can also strengthen our bones.
  5. Heart: this is where exercise has the greatest impact. Because I have been sedentary, in addition to a yearly cardio stress test, my doctor had me undergo an angioplasty which I passed with relief. Being present to what we eat makes a difference in protecting our heart.
  6. Sex Life: maybe your underwear is chosen more for comfort than foreplay, but indulge for as long as you can and as much as you can.
  7. Immune system: it’s generally recommended we get flu shots, pneumonia and now Shingles shots as prevention and protection.
  8. Bathroom trips: they are bound to become more frequent, especially if our water intake has increased. Sometimes a mini-pad for leakage protection might be in order, especially if you anticipate sneezing or belly laughing.
  9. Staying Sharp: a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Keep reading and learning; indulge in hobbies, interests, puzzles, discussion groups, socializing and so much more.
  10. Being Happy: life has ups and downs. You can’t avoid them. And it might sound pithy but being happy is a declaration — a state of mind. It’s something we choose to be as opposed to a reaction to our circumstances. This is the attitude of life that we all know so much about. I look for humor daily. Grab a chuckle a day. This line caught my eye and gave me a laugh of recognition, “my push up bra gives me creasage, not cleavage”. Look for laughter in the small things.

 

Playing keeps us young.

We can do a lot to help ourselves manage the aging process and to make life a little easier. A humorous phrase that caught my eye in an article for the over 50s is, “no matter how youthful our appearance there is no such thing as turning back the clock. Benjamin Button is a fictional character”.

I like to think we should plan on living longer and it is up to each one of us to choose our lifestyle and the areas we want to focus on. Whether we take up yoga, a dance class or get into adult coloring books as an alternative to meditation, it is up to us.

I’m definitely not convinced we can halt the process completely by altering our state of mind, but I do think we need to take control and own our aging process by actively acknowledging the implications and taking decisive action.

I’d love to know your thoughts and what you do to take control of aging or do you believe that what will be will be and leave it up to fate?

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Roslyn
I loved going to work each day for 30 years as a professional career counselor. When I retired, I explored my creativity and regard for crafts until I discovered beading. At age 68 I turned my new found passion- jewelry design, into a business. At age 72 I took on learning about social media marketing and developing my computer skills. I am sharing my journey from inception, to frustration, to elation -in the hope of inspiring others that 'it is not too late to start again'. Welcome to my re-invention!

Comments 67

  1. I’m a few years behind you Roslyn, but totally understand. I woke up one fine morning and realized that I had turned 50 and didn’t feel it! Fortunately I have oily skin and the bane of my teenage years of suffering from pimples and acne is a blessing at this stage of my life when my skin is still looking good and I often pass off as being in my 30s.

    My Mom is a fabulous 70+ and her secret to aging gracefully is her attitude and mantra – Age is a state of mind. She keeps herself busy with her art work and reads the papers and watches news to stay abreast with the world. Sometimes I feel that having Miss Coco in the house has made a difference because we still have a routine and Mom is Miss Coco’s favorite playmate with toys. I love the 10 tips you’ve shared.

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      Appreciate your comment as always Vatsala Shukla. This topic is endless and as it is not my field of expertise, I took an overview toward it purely from my own personal experience and perspective. I agree with your mom that maintaining a wonderful attitude toward life enables us to enjoy life and age is just a number. However, as there are changes to our bodies that occur as we age we want to be aware of them so that we can control it.

  2. Quite a comprehensive article on your thoughts on aging and how you are dealing with it as well as ideas for how to minimize the problems. I think that one’s state of mind makes a great deal of difference. I think that when someone says that you look good for your age that person is reacting to your attitude as well as your appearance. Keeping sharp by learning new things does wonders for your brain.

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  3. Although I am not at the age to have the aging issues you talk about in the article – it was fun to read with an open mind. I am thinking that number 10 and keeping the mindset on young living vs. preventing aging will help keep many of the aging concerns at bay longer.

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      I agree, Teresa Salhi and thank you for your comment. By starting now at your age to be aware of ways to introduce young living & maintaining a young attitude toward aging, you should be in good shape.

  4. Great post, Roslyn, I love the list of what we can control to help us with aging too quickly. Over the years, I prefer to eat wholesome, healthy food since I have several sensitivities. So, I decided to start sharing my wholesome recipes online to be accountable for what I am eating. As I get older, I do forget what I have eaten so taking pictures helps me remember. Because of this, I was able to get back to my normal weight (still about 20 lbs overweight but who cares). I don’t feel that we should measure ourselves with the scale. We are all different and some may weigh more than others and that’s OK.

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      Thanks, Sabrina Quairoli for your comment. Love your idea of taking photos to help with memory & accountability.Great job losing weight & maintaining & sounds like you have a good handle on how you want to be in control as you age.

  5. What a great take on aging, Roslyn! I love Christine Northrup too! And though we’ve long believed genetics governs us, so many studies have shown that belief affects our biology as much as genetics do.
    I especially love your number 9: Staying Sharp. Ah, the world is still so open for us to learn from–no matter one’s age.
    Thank You!

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      Susan Mary Malone, thanks for supporting the view that beliefs affect our biology as much as genetics. I had this ‘feeling’ about it without concrete evidence & was thrilled to come upon Christine Northrup. You are familiar with studies & I know others are far more qualified to write on this topic than I. I’m just getting my feet wet, so to speak so I appreciate your comment.I love Staying Sharp too.

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      Appreciate your comment very much Lisa Swanson. I know the physical contribution to controlling one’s body as we age is your primary focus & I love staying young at heart

  6. This is a great post Roslyn – I love your honesty in it. My sun worshipping days are evident on my face and like you, I’m overweight and not big on sacrificing favourite foods. I do enjoy my walks though. I see getting older as a bit of an adventure – there is a certain freedom attached to it. Attitude is everything and while I agree it cannot halt the ageing process completely, it can certainly keep you young at heart. Your practical advice for dealing with all the changes is excellent.

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      Tamuria, I looked forward to your comment as I know we share similar perspectives. What stands out for me is ‘attitude is everything’, & life is an adventure. Thanks

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      Thanks Tamuria, for your honest comments. Loving your perspective on growing older as an adventure. I think it is easy to maintain being young at heart and having the freedom to enjoy all of life from the wisdom we have garnered.

  7. As you know, I am part of Dr. Northrup’s health and nutrition team and love what she shares and is standing for, for all women. I thank you for trusting me and us to support you in your aging gracefully through our incredible nutritional supplements. You also know I have a mother about to turn 100 and no one believes she is even close to that age. It is partly her generation, along with her “talk yourself out of it” attitude. The newest research is proving that what we used to believe, that genetics was 70% of how we age and lifestyle choices only 30%, has been turned on its head and now that has flipped. Genetics are actually only 30% of the puzzle and lifestyle choices are 70%! What this means is we can control how we age. Getting older is inevitable, aging is not. At least not in the traditional ways we have come to believe we are “supposed” to age. Lifestyle is the key and everything you listed, contributes to this overarching theme. Wonderful and reflective post and although change is more challenging as we get older, I know it is not impossible. Your body responds at any age, which is something I learned throughout my own journey back to health. We are incredible and complex beings and so much is possible if we commit to ourselves and make wise choices. Thanks for the fabulous post, Roslyn!

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      As I wrote this post-Beverley, I had the thought several times that you should be writing on this topic. I appreciate the added information and statistics as well as your personal life experience & knowledge. So pleased you appreciated the post and I hope everyone reads your comment.

  8. Great post Roslyn,

    I’m letting nature take its course when it comes to getting older. I take care of mind and body in a natural way and that is how I control “how” I age.

    I get blown away when I see women who are in their 90’s and can dance and express themselves better than 20 somethings.

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      Yes, Gisele Grenier, I am ‘blown’ away by those same women & when I read about them I realize they never stopped doung yoga or dance or marathons. It was a way of life that aged with them. I’m with you in letting mind & body age naturally, and our attitudes are healthy. We also have the benefit of creativity that affects our attitude. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Roslyn – I didn’t know you were a counselor for 30 years! I’ll bet nothing slipped by you! This is an excellent article on aging. One picture that was recently posted on the Women Entrepreneur’s site showed a vibrant older woman toweling herself off after a swim – she stood next to a crouched, feeble woman, and the narrative asked, “Which life are you designing?” It really hit home with me. I also agree with Northrup’s assertion that thoughts can lead to outcomes – to a point. When a woman gets breast cancer, for example, I’d hate to think of anyone feeling that they were affected because she failed to “think/right attitude” herself out of her disease. On the other hand, a positive attitude hurts nothing – and actually helps SO MUCH! I also think being creative helps, along with music, dance (even if it’s only a finger dance!), and, really exposure to art of any kind. I used to poo-poo these types of notions, and now I feel that nutritious food, getting back to mother nature, and engaging in the arts may be our best hope.

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      Love your comment Joan Potter as you opened up other ways to look at our attitude in aging. This topic is endless and in fact, this blog is the 3rd in our series. Would love to have you be a guest blogger. I invited others we know in common and look forward to developing this topic as we go along in our own aging process and throughout the year. Thanks for including the anecdote. Visuals can be so much more revealing than words. And I love your caution for us to not ‘blame’ a person for having a disease. Great points & I hope others read your comment.

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      Thank you so much Joan Potter, for your thoughtful comment. I had to digest some of the points you made and I’m glad you addressed not blaming yourself if you do contract a disease. We do know that how one handles themselves and thinks about themselves if going thru cancer treatments, for example, can make a difference in recovery. I love your notion about a finger dance and often do that. I’m going to make more of an effort to have my feet do the dancing.

  10. I will have to keep these in mind as I age. I just turned 27 this week and people still think that I am 15-16. Either way, staying healthy is good at any age!

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  11. A wonderful post, Roz! I strongly believe we are as old as we’re telling ourselves to be and we can definitely continue to stay happy and healthy. I know young people who act and talk as if they’re much older than they really are, as if “there’s nothing you can do, you’re doomed”.

    And at the same time, I know so many people who are older and just live every single day in harmony and happiness with themselves and the world. I’d like to think I’ll continue to be part of the 2nd category 🙂

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  12. Roslyn,
    What a beautiful and thoughtful post. Many times the topic of aging is so clinical and filled with don’t do this, or this. Your own thoughts and feelings came though with great wisdom. I hope you consider turning this into a book.

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      Thank you, Joyce Hanson for your generous comment and welcome to our blog. At this time, I’m enjoying writing on the topic as it is so personal to me and this is the 3rd in our series. I hope to have some guest bloggers as well.

  13. Good post! Like you I’m ” overweight, not into exercise and rather sedentary. I’m nutritionally aware but not an abstainer from evening ice cream, good bread in a restaurant or chips at a party. And my blood work tells me I’m healthy.” And people are surprised at my age. I laugh and say that since I don’t think I am 65, then I don’t look it. Not sure what the secret is, but I think people that are very thin age quicker, (although that may just be a justification for my weight ) and we want to enjoy life at all ages.

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      Welcome to our blog Terry.Not to sound like a preacher, however, don’t wait til you reach my chronolgical years to gain control of your food habits. It gets harder if we haven’t really paid attention.

  14. These are great insights. I have been watching the aging process first hand with my grandparents, who have both had health issues this past year. It’s very hard to watch someone you love have a hard time and not be able to do what they could before. I am thankful I get to help them through this phase of life.

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      Welcome Stephanie to our blog and thank you for your point. Yes, there is a huge impact on family when older members age and havent been in control. How lovely you are helping them.

  15. Hi Roz,
    What an awesome post and I love the tips that you shared for how to “grow old gracefully” 🙂 It is so important t live healthy and live your best life, because in the end, it really does not matter what we look like, it is all about what kind of impression we left on those we left behind and how many lives we can change in our life 🙂

    Awesome share!

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  16. Thank you for sharing your story. The Shaw quote is an all time favorite of mine. Some of my dearest friends have been decades older than me and I’ve learned so much from them about staying young at heart. My great grandmother was 105 when she left us and she was my all time hero, loved a good dirty joke and debating politics, and we all knew not to bother her when roller derby was on TV! One friend got her MBA at 60, and another who regularly joins me for “girls night out” is 85. She may be many years older than me but she is funny and adventurous and sharp as a tack. Yes, I do care what I look like and do my best to take care of myself, but my perspective has been and always will be that the most important part of youth comes from the inside .

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      Welcome to our blog, Marquita Herald and thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am often that older friend who gets called the Ageless Explorer. Agree completely that who we are about our age comes from the inside. How fortunate we are blessed with our attitude toward life.

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      Thanks Leslie for your comment. I can see that you are on the young side so continue to do your best to eat healthy, perhaps adjust how you exercise to one that fits in better with your working. Stay in control of your life.

  17. Great Post Roslyn, I was listening to Wayne Dyer yesterday on ageing and I tend to agree with his take: If when truly love ourselves and love out various body parts then we live in flow. We have a choice I believe, we can feel young and that then is reflected in how we present to the world. Not sure about the botox, we can love our wrinkles 🙂 I take great care of my bones, maca, green calcium and exercise, For me keeping in Vibrant health keeps us young xxoo

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      I agree with you Suzie Cheel that loving ourselves is the key to taking care of ourselves. I have o interest in botox but to some women, those wrinkles upset them. I remember the difference it made to me years ago when a dear friend who is a holistic therapist told me to love my belly. So I chose my belly & my freckles & my wrinkles & my weight, and I choose to have vibrant health.

  18. Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive post on a topic that’s been on my mind a lot recently. I’ll be 58 in a couple months, and while some people don’t think I “look my age,” there are many days I feel even older due to a variety of physical challenges, including arthritis and a couple others you mentioned.

    One of the things that bothers me on a daily basis is dry skin, and in cold weather, the skin on my hands also cracks and bleeds sometimes. NOT pleasant! I’ve recently been thinking I need to tell my daughters (ages 26, almost 29, and 31) to take good care of their skin NOW and continue to do so, in order to improve their chances of not having so many wrinkles and sagging skin as they get older.

    I also really regret NOT exercising regularly and being more careful about my diet years ago, especially after each pregnancy.

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      Appreciate your thoughtful response K.Lee Banks. As you know this is not my field of expertise and we know so many who can advise in the field of health. Although I too have regrets, I don;t believe it serves any purpose other than to have us make better decisions going forward & to advise your daughters. Chances are they need to investigate & make their own decisions about how to control their own health, skin & consequences.I would share with your girls but come from your own experience so they don’t feel you are still trying to tell them what they have to do. Good luck.

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  19. My Mom was diagnosed with ostiopedia (sp?) ten years ago (a precursor to bone mass loss). That week I started a weight training class. So far, two bone density tests have revealed no degeneration to date (but I’m not yet fully menopausal, at age 52 still getting visits from Aunt Flo). What’s the saying: you take your health for granted until you don’t. I’m not as healthy as I want to be, but I’m aware and present of how what I do affects my body and quality of life: now and in the future.

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      Thanks Kimba for sharing your experience. I agree, we take many things, our health for one, for granted until we have a wake-up call. You are doing great taking care now. That’s all you can do.

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      Welcome Kiba to our blog. Sometimes we need a wake-up call and I’m glad you got one early enough to take actions that can make a difference.Being aware of your day to day actions are the very first step toward living a healthy life and aging gracefully. Thanks for your comment. And I was thrilled when Aunt flo stopped visiting.

  20. I’m thankful that I come from a long line of women who have aged gracefully, without skipping the bacon. My expectations were set by their example, not the media. I do believe that our beliefs and true desires have a massive influence on what happens in our lives, but the thing is, at heart most of us do in fact want to have our bodies change some over time. We think we don’t when coming from ego’s fears and insecurities, but really we are here for a journey of transformation, and there is nothing wrong with aging gracefully.

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      Welcome to our blog Indigo Ocean. I love your perspective and accepting the inevitability of our bodies changing. Isn’t it beneficial to have some say in our transformation. Taking control to give it the best helpers can make a big difference. I see aging gracefully as a beautiful process and stage in living life.

  21. I try to do some sort of brain game or puzzle at least once a day to keep my mind sharp. I also like reading for that purpose. And my skin is something I have become very careful with.

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      Welcome to our blog Liz Mays. Awhile ago a friend of mine was genetically tested and has a hi probability of some dreaded disease. One action she takes daily is also to do a brain game, I believe it is Luminosity & has gotten to a hi level. Reading has many benefits, and its good to protect your skin.

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      Thanks Jonathan Key for your comment and welcome to our blog. You are right in that some form of exercise and healthy eating are good places to start to have some control over the way our bodies age.

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      You are so right Ariel and it is hard to imagine the ways our body changes when you are only 24. Getting into good habits now can only benefit you in the long run.

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      Kristen Wilson, I started a blog series, once a month back in September on Aging Gracefully. The topic is very much on my mind. And I had been ignoring it, but given I woke up, decided to explore it through blogging. It is within the realm of interest of our readers and I hope to have guest bloggers weigh in on aspects of the topic. We will age so might as well understand it and take control. Right?

  22. When I turned 60 a few years ago I started whining about it – I think because I thought I should. My partner convinced me not to hide it and celebrate instead then he proceeded to throw me 2 parties. Since then I’m proud of my age. I earned it. I go for check ups regularly and am still healthy from a medical view. I’ve always taken good care of my skin – and now focus more on yoga for strength and flexibility. Your list is a good reminder of other areas to get focused on. PS My partner is now turning 60 and he’s not so sure about it!

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      Welcome to our blog Diane Howell Topkis and thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds wise that you shifted your view of aging from whining to taking control. Attitude seems to be the key. Hope you get your partner on board.

  23. Oh, you nailed this one, Roz! This statement sums it up: “I like to think we should plan on living longer and it is up to each one of us to choose our lifestyle and the areas we want to focus on.” We make choices based on the best information we have. We make choices based on how we want to live our lives. Boom!

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  24. I have had people be shocked when they find out the ages of my children – the oldest being 22. Even my own father has complimented me and said, I don’t look like I have aged. I see it in the mirror, though … however, I’ve earned every line and wrinkle – I’ve become wise and I’ve loved & laughed often; these remind me of those times. I thank you for sharing these tips – moisturizing is the best – from the inside out; I do notice my skin drying faster than before; so now I keep lotion close to me.

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      Thanks, Tamara for your comment and love your line, “I’ve earned every line and wrinkle”. I have too which may be why I don’t notice them. Ironically, have never moisturized my skin, but will ask my daughter if she thinks I should start now.

  25. Those seem like all good things to think about to take control of the aging process. And I think staying active is probably very important, I see my mother still being very much active with all the interests she had before too, and she is always out and about.

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      Thanks for your comment Katarina Anderson. Having your mom as a role model is so helpful. You see her enjoying her life as both of you are doing now. Knowing you are often at wine tastings & dinner parties, I’m sure you balance your food intake with activity.

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