It’s reasonably well-known that many people fear public speaking more than they fear dying. However, as we age, a number of other fears enter our consciousness beyond the sense of foreboding, dread, or denial that can occur as we age.
A bonus of ageing is that we commonly celebrate another decade passing. Whether that celebration involve a party, an adventure, or a quiet dinner at home with a loved one or friends. We’ve lived another 10 years! However, the celebrations are usually for the life we’ve lived, not the life before us.
Who celebrates a 50th, 60th, 70th or 80th birthday because of what they’ve experienced and because of your enthusiasm for the next decade? Compare this feeling to the experience of celebrating an 18th or 21st. Generally, these birthdays are celebrated as a milestone because they represent a turning point in our life. A time when we can look forward to new and exciting experiences and adventures. What can we possibly look forward to in our 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and beyond? Isn’t this a time when “it’s all downhill from here”?
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
As this well known quote so succinctly states
“If it’s going to be. It’s up to me.”
With lifespans longer than at any other time in history, it’s time to re-think how we look forward to, think, and plan for our later years.
5 things scarier than dying
In a recent survey of baby boomers conducted by Catherine Rickwood, we discovered that this age group found these 5 things more scary than dying:
1. Physical and/or cognitive decline
2. Nursing homes
3. Retirement villages
5. Being like our parents
The question is: If we’re afraid of these things, what are we doing about it?
The reality is, physical exercise combined with good diet and a healthy lifestyle (not smoking, low alcohol intake) are the two things most likely to make the biggest difference to our lives. Furthermore, just these two ideas could influence whether or not a nursing home becomes a reality or simply an unfounded fear.
There’s so much to look forward to as we become older. In fact, one study (1) has shown that our life satisfaction in our 60’s and beyond is equivalent to when we were teenagers! As a friend shared with me, being physically active and not playing the age card are essential to enjoying our later life. And Jane Goodall simply doesn’t think about ageing.
Of course planning everything in our life isn’t necessary either. It’s really about our level of enthusiasm for what we’re doing and what might happen in the future. I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me that she always carried her passport with her wherever she was in Australia just in case a friend called asking her if she’d like to go overseas with them.
And if you’re wondering … there was a time she spontaneously went on a cruise and asked her friend in Perth to pack her bag for her and she’d meet her in Sydney at the cruise ship (she was in Darwin) . Unfortunately she did end up in a nursing home – despite her best efforts to live a very full life. At least she maximised her able years to the best of her ability.
(1) Qu, L., & de Vsus, D. (2015). Life satisfaction across life course transitions (Australian Family Trends No.8). Melbourne: Australian Insitute of Family Studies.