Seventy is the new forty: strategies for successful ageing
Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
How do you plan to age? Will you let the river of time carry you along helpless, or have you armed yourself with a paddle to steer with so you can explore the banks? How much value do you place on longevity? Is it worth growing very old just for its own sake?
Woody Allen said, ‘You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to be a hundred.’ So ideally we want to have a balance between length of life and quality of life. How we handle this question can itself be a factor in our happiness. Maybe that’s worth pausing for a little while and thinking about.
For most of us, that trusty paddle for steering ourselves through our advancing years consists of having strategies for healthy, active, socially engaged ageing. Trinity College Dublin has just such a collection of wisdom, available as a free course on FutureLearn. It is a 5-week course – nice and short, so you won’t waste another precious year thinking about not wasting another precious year.
Week 1 explores perceptions and attitudes towards ageing. What stereotypes are there about age? How do we overcome them? How do we see ourselves in the years ahead?
Week 2: ‘Decline is not inevitable’ is the key message here. That sounds a lot like a paddle to steer with, rather than letting yourself be carried along. During this week the focus is on improving your happiness and wellbeing by defining what quality of life means to you.
Week 3: The spotlight is on good old straightforward health here: nutrition, exercise, and brain health, and maybe even seeing if you can stretch out your sex life a few more years.
Week 4 explores staying socially involved. What are your expectations here? If you have always imagined yourself getting isolated and lonely as you age, this may well end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Throw away the slippers and get out there!
Week 5 scales the upper reaches of Maslow’s pyramid: self-fulfilment and creativity, recognizing your mature talents and what they have to offer the world, and how you can still share your accomplishments with others.
By the time you’ve finished, you might well want to live to be a hundred, and you’re more likely to enjoy getting there.
The tutors and students can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #flageingwell.