What type of 85-year-old do you want to be?! What do you look like? What pursuits fill your day? How healthy are you? Go ahead, give it some thought! What did you say to yourself? Active…independent…still above ground (I get that one a lot!) After spending eight years surrounded by over 1,400 people with an average age of 85, I started asking younger populations that question and you’re probably not surprised to hear that most had never contemplated what life will be like when they are 85. When you are 25, you think you are going to live forever; 35, raising a young family; 45, gunning your career to the top; 55, starting to joke about aging aches and pains; and 65, perhaps starting to think about life at 85 because you might be caring for your own aging parent.
The reason I ask you to contemplate this question is that regardless of your current age, you are working toward your 85-year-old self right now, for better or for worse. I often use my son Jeff as an example when I talk about your 85-year-old self. When Jeff was in high school and I would nag him about keeping up with his homework or some other task, he would tell me “That’s future Jeff’s problem!” Completely aggravating as a mom, as you can guess, but he still managed to get by because he was a smart kid, but there comes a time when overload hits. It hit for Jeff when he got to college and was forced to make some changes! I ask you, Is your quality of life at the age of 85 your future self’s problem or are you willing to take ownership of it now? Many of us “get by” in our younger years without great habits, just like Jeff did in high school, but by our older years, the consequences start adding up, as they did for Jeff in college.
The years are flying by. In fact, at almost every age, people wonder and joke out loud, “How did I get this old?” We think we are “old” at 30, then 40, then 50, and then in future years, we WISH we could be “that young” again. Can you remember how you felt 20 years ago? Did that time go by quickly? What age will you be 20 years from now? Won’t those 20 years go by just as quickly—if not more so? Don’t wait! Think about thriving through the years!
While I worked in senior living communities, I met thousands of 85-year-olds, some with significant physical and cognitive ailments and serious challenges in daily living that made it difficult to enjoy their lives. I met other 85-year-olds who were finding much more satisfaction in life in whatever way they defined it—finding new loves, participating in competitive sports, or traveling the world! What is the biggest determinant of the difference? It’s not luck, genetics, or your habits at the age of 84. The largest determinants of your health at the age of 85 are your lifestyle habits in the decades leading up to that age--your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, and seventies. In fact, up to 70% of how we age is determined by lifestyle!
What type of 85-year-old do you want to be and are your current habits going to get you there? If your current lifestyle needs a little adjustment, that’s ok. It’s never too early and it’s never too late! . I invite you to take my Wellness Wake-Up Call Quiz to find out where you are now and what can help you be the healthiest 85-year-old you can be!
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