Hola, my reader friend. Welcome to the 84th issue of Midlife Cues, a weekly newsletter that explores the well-lived midlife. I appreciate you being here. Was this email forwarded to you? Thank the awesome person then sign-up for your copy here
THE MAIN THING …
When you start really paying attention to marketing messages used to target mid-lifers and the older generation, you’ll soon notice a few catchy phrases bandied about: aging gracefully, positive aging, anti-aging, pro-aging, and successful aging are some of the most common.
Personally, I developed an aversion to the phrase “anti-aging” fairly quickly. Why be anti about something that happens naturally? I also hear the underlying ageism and fear of aging sentiments in the phrase. So I don’t use it.
“Aging gracefully” was a phrase I used to be okay with until I examined the thoughts and images that come to my mind whenever I use the phrase. It’s mostly only used to describe women, I’ve noticed, and it’s got a whiff of patriarchy. So I stopped using it too.
I’ve been “pro-aging” for a while. It goes without saying, given my anti anti-aging stance. 😊
But the phrases “successful aging” and “positive aging” are interesting. Or rather, I’ve been on the fence about these phrases.
What do these phrases really mean? What is it like to be positively aging? And what is it like to be successfully aging? Aren’t we — by virtue of still being alive — positively and successfully aging by default?
Are these simply marketing phrases, crafted by the creative geniuses (ahem) hired by conglomerates intent on getting their hands into our pocketbooks?
A Physician’s Perspective
My recent conversation with age management physician and sought-after lecturer, Dr. Mickey Barber, helped me better understand and get behind one of these phrases.
Dr. Barber uses the phrase “successful aging” to mean being able to navigate the process of getting older as healthy as possible. That is, avoiding the pitfalls that typically come with aging: chronic diseases, hypertension, diabetes, dementia, obesity, and such.
“If we can stay healthy and well, and avoid [these diseases associated with the aging process], then we increase our chances of being able to participate in things we really enjoy for a long time.”
That’s another thing I appreciate about Dr. Barber’s philosophy around age management. It’s all about our ability to participate in the things we enjoy or find meaningful — whether that be playing with our grandkids, playing golf, playing the piano, or simply playing — as long as humanly possible.
“I’m 66 years old and people always ask me when I’m going to retire. And I tell them when I’m no longer having fun.”
Not Too Late to Start
I haven’t always made the healthiest choices. There were many, many years when I didn’t prioritize sleep and wore getting by with 3 hours of sleep like a badge of honor.
I dismissed the harm that constantly being stressed out was doing to my body. I only recently understood what a high cortisol level meant to my system.
I didn’t always eat my veggies — as Mom had instructed long, long ago — and ate too much red meat.
Part of me wishes I’d pay closer attention to these things when I was younger. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I start now. I start today.
“Even if you’re 70 and maybe haven’t been doing everything in a healthy manner or the right way, it’s still not too late. On the other side of that coin, if you’re 30, great! Let’s get started now. You’ll be so ahead of the game. So I don’t think that there’s a right or wrong time to get started.”
With the average life expectancy increasing to about 80 years (in general, for men and women), we want to be able to live our years with vigor and vitality so we can enjoy the things that are important to us.
And the way we do that is NOT by waiting until we’re 70 to make changes.
If we make healthier choices every day, starting today, our chances of aging successfully will be so much greater.
this, this, and that
Here are but a few of the magazines I get as part of my Scribd subscription: The Atlantic, Inc. WellBeing, Fast Company, Creative NonFiction, Clean Eating, The Writer.
My subscription — which is less than Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited — gives me access to magazines, books, AND audiobooks. No need for a separate Audible account anymore. And you can read all of these on your smartphone or tablet.
Use this link for a 60-day trial period. Easy peasy!
- Don’t worry, be happy. “For every extra point on the worry scale, the brain was aging 1.3 months more. This scale goes up to 70—really severe worriers are between 50 and 70—so you can age your brain quite a bit by worrying a lot.” How excessive worrying may accelerate the aging of our brain.
- This is not a surprise: Studies show 1 in 3 U.S. adults do not get enough sleep. And the suggested ways that we can improve our sleep aren’t breaking news either. But given the importance of sleep, especially to us mid-lifers, we can all use a reminder.
- “Just like the 10,000-mile checklist to ensure your car runs smoothly, your 40+ year body comes with a checklist of preventive suggestions to ensure smoother sailing for the next 40 years and beyond.” A Health Checklist for Women 40+
- Why Gen X needs to get serious about longevity. The youngest of the sandwich generation — “the responsible generation” that is busy working, taking care of their aging parents, their own children, and themselves — hits 41 this year. We have it tough all around, from juggling our work and family lives to managing our health and finances. But we are at the prime of our lives. We are in a position to take control of our health and change our behaviors before it’s too late.
- Video: Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ | TED Talk. In his talk, Buettner shares the 9 common diet and lifestyle habits that keep them spry past age 100.
MULL IT OVER
“I love taking care of the animals. […] Without the animals and the work it takes to raise them, I would be sitting in my house doing nothing; I would have little purpose in life. When I think of the animals, I think of my children. I like it when my kids come home and they find something here that I have produced.” — Tonino Tola, shepherd, age 75 (at the time of Blue Zone’s writing)
BOOK NOTES ▿
A long and healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may live up to a decade longer.
Longevity expert and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner reports on health, fitness, diet, and aging, drawing on his research from extraordinarily long-lived communities — Blue Zones — around the globe.
MCues Reader Mary Beth Simon has put together a personal Contingency Planning Kit to help us be ready for the unexpected with a solid backup plan. This kit includes a 12 Question Checklist, a DIY Password Book Template, and a Medical History Form. Check it out and grab your copy here. Thank you for your support!
REMEMBER THE TIME…
Timeline: October 23, 2001
The official press release from Cupertino, California said: “Apple® today introduced iPod™, a breakthrough MP3 music player that packs up to 1,000 CD-quality songs into an ultra-portable, 6.5-ounce design that fits in your pocket.”
The iPod isn’t the first MP3 player to have hit the market, but it’s by far the most successful. And the world of music has never been the same.
In this episode, Dr. Mickey Barber (age management physician and lecturer) and I dive into:
- What it takes to age successfully
- How we can make sure that our health concerns are HEARD by our doctors – and not simply dismissed as part of the aging process
- How to choose doctors who will be better able to address our needs in midlife
- The most important factors that we need to be considering as we get older.
I took away a ton from this conversation with Dr. Barber and I hope you’ll find it as useful as well.
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Mom celebrates her 98th birthday this week.
So, if we’re looking at genes as one factor of longevity, I’ve got that going for me.
I just need to make sure I don’t muck it up!
How’s it going at your end?
Here’s to a joyful and easeful week ahead.