Sunday, 22 October 2017

Not ready for the knackers yard yet

Hello. It's looking like it's going to be a day indoors today, I have lots to keep me occupied so I'm happy to stay in. I had an email come through a few days ago which needs a reply, and rather than spend time writing personally to the reader I thought I would share it here, in case the subject matter strikes a chord with  anyone else. I copy and paste part of the letter here, the readers is a similar age to myself.

I wanted to ask your advice please.   Being childless as we are, what will happen to us when we get infirm?  Who will take care of us?  I'm not scared about getting older but what terrifies me is getting infirm and I must admit to losing sleep over this issue as time goes on.  Friends are now too busy with grandchildren so they don't bother with me much any more and I'd value your thoughts.  

Hello and thank you for your questions. Everyone approaches old age in their own way, and a lot of how you deal with it depends on your outlook on life leading up to this point. You used the word 'terrifies', twice, which makes me think that you have had some worries which have caused you some concerns in the past. Learned behaviour over a long period of time is harder to change. I will answer your questions from my own perspective, which may or may not be in line with your own ideas. We have led completely different lives, so the way I see things will probably not be the same for you. We may lead similar lives now, but our journey to get to this stage will depend on the path we chose. My learned behaviour will be different to yours.  

What will happen to us when we get infirm?
 I don't worry about getting infirm, because I don't think it will happen to me. I don't go looking for the negatives, I see myself as an independent woman with no health issues, who hopes to stay active until the very last. I see older people in my village who make the effort and go out every day, even though they move around quite slowly. OK, it's negativity which drags you down. Negativity which makes you stay in bed longer, makes you sit in front of the gogglebox for hours, and makes you stop caring about your surroundings. I am up with the lark, looking forward to each day. I fully immerse myself in keeping busy, and keeping the old grey matter working. I don't have time for negative thoughts. Every day for me is a bonus and I don't want to waste any of it. 

Who will take care of us? 
 Well that's an easy one, ME. I am already taking care of me right now, I am the only one responsible for my well being. Mind you, at 68 I am only a spring chicken, but I am planning to live another 20 years. I see my future as my responsibility. The plan is to keep on doing what I am doing now. Eating the right food, keep walking, keep active in my body and my mind. Ok, so I might be unlucky and fall ill at some point, but it won't be because I have abused my body, it will be because there is something in my genetic make up which I have inherited. 

I hope to live independently for as long as I can, and if the worst comes to the worst, I will go into sheltered accommodation or a care home. I don't expect any members of my family to look after me. 

You mention friends with grandchildren don't bother with you much. I'm afraid that's the way it is and we just have to accept that. My family don't bother with me much, but that's OK, they have families, they have to go to work, and they are struggling to make ends meet. They have enough to think about. I have a mix of friends, some are single like me, and some are looking after grandkids. It was my choice not to have kids of my own, so I cannot now complain that I have no one to visit me. 

I accept that I will face old age alone. It's very rare I think about how the end of my life will pan out, because I am a long way from it. Yes, luck plays a part, and my time could be cut short, but why worry about something that may never happen. 

Dear reader, if you are losing sleep now, you are on a downward slope. Getting enough sleep is very important to your health and well being, so you are sabotaging what could be your happy and prosperous life. I don't like to give advice because inevitably you are in charge of your own destiny, but I will say this to anyone who wants to listen. Live each day as if it was your last. Make each minute count, don't waste any of it. Wake up every morning and be grateful that you have woken up, and you have a fresh new day to fill. Think of how best to spend your bonus day, how to make the most of it, what will give you the most joy, the most pleasure, and do it.  


Dear Reader, you asked me another question, I will cover that in another post. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.Toodle pip


PS. Some of you have been reading this while I have been editing it. I've been struggling to get the font the right size, always happens with copy and paste. 

62 comments:

  1. Having a clutch of children and grand children does not guarantee care in later life. People have lives and commitments of their own. I was able to care for my parents because I was the eldest and my child was an adult, my siblings had their children to care for. There are residential communities for older people and now is the time to make plans.

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  2. I was foreseeing what you would say and ready to argue about some things to a Pollyanna type person. But no, you pretty well nailed it.

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    1. What is a Pollyanna type person please?

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    2. A very cheerful, optimistic woman.

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    3. Finding good in every situation no matter how dire. Example: You are starving to death and your comment on the situation is "Great diet!".

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    4. There was a film called Pollyanna, the lead was played by Hayley Mills. She was a cheerful soul, always saw the good in people.

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  3. i have a vision of you up a ladder in your eighties , with your walking boots on , much like my mother is now . She just finds advanced age irritating , like the time she was scrubbing the skirting boards and got stuck down there , hanging washing out in the dark , tumbled and wouldnt call for help because you could see her knickers etc etc ...an independent spirit can keep you going for a lot of years

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  4. I agree with you Ilona. I regard it as my responsibility to look after my health and ensure I stay healthy basically. With the best will in the world - illness can come along. But a lot of it is preventable - by people ensuring they eat healthily, exercise enough, etc. It is NOT inevitable that getting older brings illness with it automatically. It is NOT a case of "when" one becomes unhealthy - its "if". If the worst comes to the worst - then it's up to the individual concerned to deal with this basically and not expect other people to be turned into carers (usually against their will). I don't regard it as fair for anyone to have always had a plan in mind for MY life and regarded me as a "carer in waiting" for them if they decide on that. So why would I expect to have a "carer in waiting" lined-up for myself?

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  5. totally agree,I don't expect my children to look after me. Im nearly 72, still work 2 afternoons a week, keep active in mind and body.
    We cant see what the future hold, so there is no point in lying worrying about it, just live a day at a time.
    have some hobby to keep you busy, I knit, garden, play scrabble online and read blogs, like Meanqueen.

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  6. I'm pretty down at the moment, lost another short contract job last week, continually searching for another, hate being in the house, don't enjoy anything at the moment, no hobbies, cant switch off, my mind just goes round and round, need a job, need to move, its driving me and family crazy, I'm packing stuff away, getting rid of stuff as that's all I can do for now. I'm getting older and that scares me although I'm only 49 a pretty spring chicken, kids have just left home, so an empty nester, don't know my path now at all, I could scream and am inside. This makes me feel like I don't want to do anything, now no job no walk to work which kept me on straight and narrow. So yes we all have worries, health problems whatever age we are, id say to the reader plan and plan again. but if shes feeling down its hard to put one step forward and the world feels a scary place. My dad was a health tablet nut, didn't smoke but drank in his younger years, was overweight, wouldn't take his tablets for blood pressure and liked his food a lot. Now he is in a care home, cannot speak, or eat or do anything but look at you, after multiple strokes, its so so sad. He pays £800 a week for the privaledge, having worked for direct payments you may be better staying in your home and getting assessed by a social worker for direct payments through the council, they will pay for carers, help and support, some people get quite a lot of money for this depending on their circumstances and wealth. hey ho and onwards we go. Julie T

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    1. Hope you get a new job soon , Julie :)
      Eilidh x

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    2. Maybe time to find a hobby and/ or study to do. Maybe time to find some volunteer work to keep your resume looking new and help you find something new to focus on.

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  7. As others have said above, it is each persons responsibility to stay healthy with a positive mindset. I do not expect anyone to look after me so have downsized to a smaller property. I have noticed amongst older friends that this seems to be a difficult decision for a lot of people, either you move or will need to pay for someone to cut hedges, clear gutters etc. Make plans now, do not expect to do in your 80,s what you can do in your 50's, be realistic, plan ahead and make decisions, life will be sweet.

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  8. What a great post Ilona. You have such a great outlook, I think you'll stay healthy from sheer force of will!

    None of us know what the future may hold, I think it's best not to go down that road of 'what ifs', we should try to be grateful for the present and trust in ourselves for the future. But feeling vulnerable and scared is not nice at all. I hope your post has helped the person who sent you the email. Karen

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  9. You just have to do the best you can for yourself while you can, and Ilona is an excellent example. I fully espouse tne " make the best of the day " attitude. The reader who posed the question must not look at the what if's, they will come if they come. Some illnesses have absolutely nothing to with obesity, excessive alcohol or smoking. My late husband had pleural mesothelioma (asbestos cancer) and prior to that was as fit as a fiddle.

    Prior to his diagnosis he was my carer as I have pulmonary fibrosis this is a terminal condition and I am on 6 litres of oxygen. I live alone and yes I do get frightened occasionally but you would be surprised at what you can adapt to. I try to keep my spirits up and get out and about with my oxygen bottle on my back. I keep remembering the saying life is for living.

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    1. Kathy, you are an inspiration to us all, I feel humbled in your presence. Go girl xxx

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    2. Bless you, and the biggest congratulations for passing the 1000 miles. X

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  10. none of us knows what us around the corner. Live as full a life as you can, just as you are doing Ilona. I know onw lady who had never married and then in her later life at 78 , she married for the first time. it was a complete surprise to her

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    1. Still hope for me yet, Brenda :o)

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    2. I've got my bridesmaid outfit planned already- I'll wear it to yours and then you can wear it to mine!

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  11. While I agree with a lot of the comments in principle that it doesn't do any good thinking of the future, I can understand her worries. She must make plans now and have an idea at least of all the possibilities open to her.

    Yes, taking care of yourself is a big plus and goes a long way to your outlook on life, but that didn't make any difference to me when I was diagnosed with a life altering condition, namely multiple sclerosis. At the age of 59 I was facing retirement with MS, usually a young persons condition. How can anyone plan for that? Fortunately I have my husband who has taken over the majority of household tasks. So, just because you're in the peak of fitness now doesn't mean to say it will stay that way. I thought I was invincible.

    What I will say to her though is try, if you can, to carry on living a normal life and enjoy what each day brings, the future stretches out a long way and with luck bad things may never happen.

    Joan (Devon)

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    1. Some of it is down to luck, but we can also think ourselves lucky. Kick gloom and doom down the stairs and out of the door. There is no place for it in my house.

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  12. Hi hun, I totally agree with you and the other comments here. No one knows what the future holds and worrying about it isn't going to solve anything.I agree that you should live each day at a time.Maybe it would help the person who you are writing to if they joined a club doing something they enjoy, with like minded souls - a craft/pottery/wine tasting/womens institute club etc .I think keeping active and doing the things you enjoy is the key to not worrying.*hugs* Sue

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    1. You got it, Sue. Meeting people with similar interests keeps the brain in good order.

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  13. I don't worry about what will happen to either of us when we get old and infirm. What will be will be and I will not waste time worrying about something that I am not in control off. Like you say Ilona, live each moment as if it is your last and try to be happy with what you've got. I know of family member who are scared to spend any money in case they need a care home in later life, blow that, enjoy each and every day, that's my motto.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Too right Bri. I will be looking for a way to spend every penny I have before I depart this earth. I came with nothing, I hope to go out with nothing.

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  14. I have a great auntie who is 95. She lives on her own and refuses to go into a care even though she has osteo arthritis and in a lot of pain. She doesn't have children. I am not sure about her financial circumstances but she pays for a gardener and his wife is her cleaner/making sure she is ok. She also pays for a nursing service (she was very, very reluctant to try this but once she built up some trust is actually starting to enjoy having someone come into her home to make sure she has everything she needs). Other than that she has some relatives that visit and do a bit of shopping for her, keep her company - we are generally there to keep her company up and oversee that she is not being taken advantage of. She also has a dear neighbour who keeps an eye on things.

    Point being...we cannot view our future with accurate pessimism but we can try our best to be as financial independent as possible so we can keep as much control and autonomy over how we are looked after in old age. HTH

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    1. I am reading all about these 90 year olds in the comments, and I am smiling and saying YES YES YES, that's me.

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  15. Oh what sense you write Ilona, I have had a mixed year open heart surgery plus a bypass in late January then several iron infusions for my body was not taking iron in,, then my daughter and family moved away only an hours car drive but she was only 5 mins until then. I then decided it was time I made the move and am now in the process of selling my home of 55 years and moving 4 miles from my daughter to a little bungalow in a small village complete contrast to where I am now - only 5 mins walk to Heathrow airport. But I am excited and hope to have at least some good years ahead of me, I am 80 next year, don't drive but can get out which I shall do like now everyday. You have to do things for yourself no good relaying on other people we are all responsible for ourselves. So I say to the lady find a hobby - I make things for charity - enjoy everyday you are lucky to be alive, my husband died suddenly at 52 and think of the little ones who maybe will never see their teens, there are so many worse than us. Join a WI or another group and you will be a changed person.
    Thank you Ilona for as always your good advice.
    Hazel c uk

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    1. Well done, Hazel, for making the changes you needed to. You sound like a gutsy young lass for a nearly 80 year old.

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  16. I don't know how it works in the UK, but here it's important to have an Enduring Power of Attorney and a Personal Directive prepared should you not be able to speak for yourself with respect to financial and health matters. I'd always thought I'd maintained an active and healthy lifestyle, but you never know. My wake up call came when I was 45 and suffered a massive heart attack, apparently brought on by stress. Once my daughter turned 18, I had a frank discussion with her about our finances and my health matters. We then both had our Wills, EPAs and PDs prepared and chose to formally register with the University Donor Program. I must say it brings peace of mind to know that my paperwork is in order and that my executor/agent is aware of my wishes. My job requires very long hours, but at least now I recognize that my clients' stress is not my personal stress. Going for a walk every day in the fresh air helps keep anxiety at bay and helps with sleep. Try to find the positive in every day, even if it's just taking a moment to stop and look at a flower. Hugs from Barbara (Canada)

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  17. Hello from America. After reading your post, I took this reader's question in a totally different mind set. It's all and good to be positive and think we will live without any problems until age 95 or so but in reality, we don't know. Because we don't know, we have to take steps to prepare for the worst. My advice to your reader would be that if she (and her husband if she has one), has any assets, she needs to have a will first and foremost. This way, her property would not become part of the state to divide it. Also, along with that will she has can have a power of attorney and health directive. This is important people. . . you need to find a trusted friend or relative who would be willing to serve in this capacity. And, once the proper documents are drawn up, be sure to give a copy to the person you choose. Case in point, my neighbors have no children. The husband died unexpected for a routine operation. The wife then fell down the stairs and is in a coma with no hope of recovering. They have assets; a home, checking account, car, etc. Luckily, they had their papers in order and had chosen a dear friend/neighbor to be their executor/guardian. I'm all for thinking positive but at the same time, I want to have my bases covered for the worst scenario. Please choose someone and appoint them to be there for you if needed. My best, Pat

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    1. No one knows what's round the corner for any of us. Plan, plan, plan, then forget about it and live your life.

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  18. Wow. I can't help but feel that perhaps the writer needs a little medical help as I think she could be depressed. She should not be losing sleep over her future.
    I agree with what everyone is saying, taking care of health. Hobby's etc. A recently widowed friend of mine joined her local U3A. Now she is never in and has made so many friends.She has turned her life around.However this lady needs to find her positivity first and you cannot just switch that on. Hence my thoughts of her needing some help. I would suggest a doctors visit and perhaps then she will get some assistance to help her overcome her fears so she can enjoy her life and look forward. I was widowed young and have had to overcome things, i feel for this lady.

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    1. I've heard that U3A is a good organisation, I will check that out when I get older.

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  19. I have friends who are in their nineties (98 and 95 or so)...

    until past their nineties they lived in their own home. Starting about 85 or so, they hired the yard work done, and had a cleaner come in once or twice a month. They hired snow clearing off sidewalk etc.. (likely only because every time it would snow, I would roust my hubby out to toss a shovel in the back and we would "stop by, because we were in the neighborhood..And, while here, might as will shovel the walk)..

    These folks are now in an elder care sort of facility, where they get supper provided, make their own meals for rest. They have a two bedroom "apartment", as each wakes at odd hours, and it is easier for sleeping. Their children live far away, but are very good about coming back regular to help with medical and such. They have one niece here who has often taken them to appointments..

    But, with all the offers of help from us/children/niece, they are quite chuffed to manage most things on "their own".

    Myself and my hubby do not have great family health histories (early deaths all around), but I HAVE DECIDED, they we are going to live past one hundred, and live well like these folks...grin.

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    1. Your elderly friends are great role models, and your positive outlook will will carry you through to the end. In your nineties, hopefully.

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  20. She has no one? It sounds like actually she is lonely. She can start to fix that by going to church. Find one you like, then join the women's group for the church. Get a hold of the parks and recreation dept. (USA) for the community she lives in and see what is free from the community she lives in. Volunteer at the local hospital to rock sick babies/children. You can't get rid of 'lonely' if you don't put yourself out there.

    Where to live and be cared for? Like everyone has pointed out, that is up to you, not your family. Start looking into over-55 housing, apartment living and such. Over-55 housing usually has a community center with planned activities to do.

    As Barbara from Canada pointed out NOW is the time to get your legal affairs in order. Side note: I'm dealing with the aftermath of my sister, who was ten years younger than me, of not having everything in order from 1200 miles away.

    A prayer of gratitude (counting your blessings) every night as you go to sleep helps a lot with depression. Mine starts with giving thanks for the warm, dry, safe place I have to rest my head at night, a cupboard full of food,...make your own list.

    And finally it's not a bad thing to know your own mortality/limitations. A paper and pencil goes a long way in listing and planning for getting older and infirmed. Make a plan, then execute it.

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    1. A plan is definitely the way to go, get your papers in order. My plan is to give a lot of my stuff away so others don't have to sort it out.

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  21. My mum & dad are now both 72 (they were young parents to me at 18 and only ever had me). Although both in good health, my dad's got a real bee in his bonnet of late. He's worried sick in case he gets dementia, needs residential care and is forced to lose their lovely home to pay for it. I've said this current situation applies to everyone with a home that they own - it's a risk. He's become a bit obsessed in fact. It's sad that older people have to worry about this especially if they have other medical problems to contend with.

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    1. I'm not sure what the rules are now about selling your house to pay for residential care. I think they have relaxed it a little and the threshold of what you can keep is now higher. If he is in a care home your mum will still be able to live in the house, and vice versa. To try and put his mind at rest, he won't need the house if he isn't living in it. Tell him that he doesn't need to leave it to you, and he should spend the proceeds as he feels fit. It might take the pressure off a bit.

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  22. I am a bit concerned about my future as I age as I have no children and am not rich.I just try to help myself keep healthy and young at heart.Sadly both of my parents passed on at 56 years and so to me,being 58 myself is a bonus.I hope whatever the future holds for me I hope to enjoy it x

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    1. Hang on to that Flis, being 58 is a bonus, 59....60....and so on will be a bigger bonus. My mum died when she was 64 of heart problems, I have had four bonus years and hoping for more.

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  23. I have no family left now, had no children and have been single for over 20 years. I'm not far off 60, I keep as fit and active as I can, have a lot of hobbies/interests, and a small circle of close friends. I like being independent and feel very lucky to have been able to retire early. However I do find the future very frightening. Following a traumatic bereavement some years ago I developed a fear of terrible things being likely to happen at any moment, I have a particular terror of cancer and dementia. It seems to me that people can still get these things regardless of their general health - as regards cancer I feel the chemicals in our food, the general pollution everywhere and of course our DNA all play a part. Unfortunately I have never been a happy go lucky person who assumes she will be ok - people vary in their emotional make up and responses and it is just as difficult for a worrier/pessimist to suddenly become an optimist as it would be for an optimist to suddenly start fearing the darker side of life. Elderly care in the UK is in crisis, the NHS and local services are struggling to cope. I agree it is pointless worrying about stuff that might never happen, but the way I see it is it certainly COULD happen and it's not surprising that some people like me get very scared indeed. I do think the media plays into this as almost every story is full of doom and gloom about old age, and they make it sound like everyone over 50 is in constant danger of cancer/alzeimers/falls/flu/disability etc etc. It would be so great to see articles in women's magazines about ladies like Ilona and others here, who are living full and active lives and having fun, as opposed to all the articles about breast cancer and coping with elderly parents and so on.

    I find being busy and interested in life helps me. I don't lol around much and any opportunities that come up, I take them. I wish I could stop worrying but it's my way of coping and remaining prepared I suppose. There is no one I could depend on if I got ill, something I find terrifying. I wish I had some advice for this lady, but maybe knowing there are others who feel the same might help. I think we all need a purpose in this life, something that excites us and makes us want to get up in the morning, and keeps the bad stuff at bay.

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    1. I bet, if you became ill your close circle of friends would not let you down. Nurture your friendships, help others when you can, and in turn they will help you.

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  24. I love the way you think, Ilona! I couldn't agree with you more. I'm 82! Shirley near Seattle USA.

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    1. Good for you Shirley, wait for me, I'm coming xxx

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    2. It's a deal! Shirley

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    3. P.S. Every Tuesday I go to the Senior Center for lunch and visit with others especially Elinor who will be 102 next month (November) - Now, she's my role model! Shirley

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  25. Hi all
    I agree with Ilona , it depends on your outlook . My Mum is 85 and is fiercely independent , she is happy to see us when we visit, but is equally happy when she spends time on her own . She has various heart problems that can limit what she does, but she is determined to continue doing what she can for herself . Having such a strong role model has rubbed off on me and I like to think I try to be as independent as I can. I have also tried to nuture this outlook into my 2 daughters. That doesn’t mean we miss out on lovely family times together, but the girls know I don’t expect them to take me on in my dotage , I am responsible for me .
    Shelly

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    1. When the body is unwilling and the brain is still active, there are always things you can do to keep busy.

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  26. Quite right Ilona! I can't understand why some people have this 'when I'm older and can no longer do whatever'...if you can do it today, you can do it tomorrow, why assume that you're going to become infirm and incapable? Totally agree with your brilliant outlook. My mum's 84 and only the other day she was half way up a fig tree sawing off branches that she could't reach from the ground. I'm going to be like that too!

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    1. I love your mum, long may she live to chop trees down xxx

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  27. Thank you for this post, Ilona. I am almost 51 and so far I have been blessed with good mental and physical health (for which I am enormously grateful). I've had a few health problems on the way but I've managed to sort them out so far. I intend to make the most of every day that I am given and I will do what I can to keep myself as healthy (in body and mind) as I possibly can as the years go by. Nobody knows what life has in store for them but I feel it is very important to place emphasis on all the good things that come our way. My life and my health are so valuable to me. I look forward with optimism and I will do my best not to be a burden to others as I age. Thank you so very much for your words of wisdom, Ilona.

    Kind regards

    Julia

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  28. Great post and comments. My Mom lived to 93 in her own home with some hired help but became quite socially isolated because of the rural nature of her community. Planning for a long life Hubby and I recently moved across the USA to a 55+ active living community, bought a single story house that is smaller than our previous one, are actively reaching out to make new friends and enjoying being near family. There are no guarantees but you can make decisions before they are forced on you and build new social connections.

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  29. I really feel for that lady. When you see people of your own age and younger becoming ill or dying you naturally feel sad and vunerable. How I overcome this is I think of the huge universe with all it's galaxies and I know that as enormous as this is, I am a unique part of it for my lifetime no matter how long or short it may be. When I get negative feelings and I do get them. I immediately take a deep breath, hold it for 2 or 3 seconds and let it out slowly, then I do it again. This also helps me to relax when I can't sleep. Before you go to bed, make a list of what you want to do the next day. Make sure that at the end of that list is one special thing you will do for yourself. It might be taking a short walk, having a cup of cocoa, buying a luxury bubble bath, or sitting on a recliner with a cat! If you have a list, it will give you focus and this will help you to get out of bed in the morning. Also, as soon as I wake, I say to myself, I'm healthy, I have a home, I'm not hungry. I'm going to have a good day, whatever happens I can deal with it. I won't allow any negativity in my life today. Most of the things we worry about never actually happen at all. Also worry causes stress and stress makes us ill so please prepare as much as you can for your future and then relax and get busy with living. Don't watch the news on TV! It's always bad and you get to think everyone is miserable when in fact there are elderly people living long and happy lives all over the world, however it's not news worthy! We all have the right to be happy or at least content!

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    1. I really like what you have said Noreen-it helps me -thankyou -I try to think similar about things x

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    2. Another inspirational post, thanks Noreen

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  30. What a lovely inspiring post Ilona, I'm 64 and battling depression at the moment, thanks for your positive post x

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  31. Wonderful post, Ilona! Yes, be grateful for waking up, I say. Husband and I laugh each morning, and on waking say, "Well, here we are again!" One day one of us will be alone, and it will hit us badly, but in the meantime we cherish each day we are together. It's so good to hear that as a single person you similarly cherish each day. Your blog is an inspiration to us all. All good wishes from Margaret P

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    1. Bless you x stay strong and enjoy every day!

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