I often tell young people that you need to find models for aging. We spend so much time as a society focused on youth that we don’t teach people how to age. So many people find themselves in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and older unprepared for life because the focus was on shortterm fulfillment.
We didn’t take the time to build a foundation that would steady us and keep us strong for the future. My uncle always reminds me that it is so interesting to witness squirrels hide acorns for the cold to be prepared for winter.
As humans, for some reason, we believe that we have so much time and instead of preparing for the winter seasons of our lives, we have made a series of decisions that make that preparation difficult, if not, impossible.
Much of our conversation about getting older is focused on money but preparation is more than the accumulation of wealth—what does it matter to have significant sums of money but your health, your mind, your body, and your relationships are limited or even non-existent?
It’s time that we begin to teach people how to live so that they can grow old well. We spend so much time raising children that we don’t focus on raising them into becoming adults that can live long, productive lives.
We can learn a lot from the Blue Zones (https://www.bluezones.com/) which explores life expectancy. Blue Zones research demonstrates that there are several communities around the world in which individuals live to be over 100 years old.
Only one community (Loma Linda, CA) with multiple centenarians is in the US. The data from these communities show that these individuals have several things in common:
- They exercise.
- Have purpose for their lives.
- Routines to address stress like prayer.
- Watch food intake.
- Plant based diets.
- Drink wine in moderation.
- Participate in a faith-based community.Family is first and
- Recognize the impact of social networks on behavior and identity.
I find that as many of us get older, we don’t have the habits in place to sustain the quality of life that we once had. We haven’t taken the time to invest in ourselves and as a result, we have little to give or offer later on. I often tell my daughter that every person you see is the sum total of their decisions. What decisions have you made or are making currently that do not serve you well and take time away from your life instead of adding to it? Think about going to the bank. You can not make a withdrawal of funds if you have not been consistent in adding money to your account.
The same applies in our lives. If we are not intentional about our thinking, taking care of our bodies, building positive relationships, serving, and giving to others, we can not expect to receive those things later when we need them.
Recently, an article appeared in The Ladders about age discrimination and the number of cases settled between large companies and seasoned workers. This behavior stems from our inability to see aging as a part of life and because of that, we dismiss it instead of knowing that at some point, it might be our reality. And for those who are afraid of getting older, consider the alternative.
Aging is a beautiful gift from God. I have friends and loved ones who never had the opportunity to see 50. What we do with this gift is important and it starts in our youth preparing well for it so that we can enjoy it to the fullest. It starts by not only the way we view age but through the choices we make daily. The Bible reminds us that aging isn’t an accident, either.
“With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.” (Psalm 91:16) God also wants us to value our elders and treat them well whether you feel they deserve it or not. “Rise in the presence of the aged and honor the elderly face-to-face. Fear your God. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:32)
Being older doesn’t stop your ability to contribute. God still has work to be done and when we don’t tap into the wealth of those with Godly wisdom and experience, we all lose. “The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” (1 Peter 1:24 ESV)
God has a purpose for ALL of our lives. It’s up to us to steward the resource that we’ve been given so that when it is time for us to leave this place, we’ve been faithful with everything—including our time between the dash on tombstone.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry Podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the Vice President of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit drfroswa.com.