The concept of aging well may seem puzzling – what exactly does it mean to age well? Is it about aging gracefully? It may appear unexciting, as striving to look younger or conforming to societal expectations based on age can be overvalued. Instead, perhaps we should focus on aging with purpose, finding happiness in the later years. Maybe grace, although it may sound pleasant, is not the solution. Heather Havrilesky once expressed in an article about aging well that she believes being powerful is more important than being graceful. She believes that aging gracefully requires constantly proving oneself against various challenges such as personal criticism, public humiliation, and a steady stream of negative comments. It also involves a slow deterioration of self-confidence and sudden shocks that can cause one’s illusions to crumble. However, she asserts that individuals should pursue their passions and be true to themselves, following their bold and unconventional impulses. Ultimately, the key to aging well is daring to live life on one’s own terms and by that token daring to age well.
Instead of persisting on the path of misogyny by trying to be a “nice lady” as we age, we can embrace and rejoice in the process of getting older by acknowledging the positive aspects of aging. While there may be difficulties to navigate with age such as physical weakness or fragility, it is important to face them with a positive attitude. This year let’s chart a path towards empowerment and redefine what it means to age well for ourselves as older women and defy societal expectations about aging. Let us also discover the resilience and confidence within us to age gracefully and optimistically. As we embrace the concept of leap year, let’s explore some tips for taking a leap towards aging well. Do at least one courageous thing this year to make you more interesting to yourself — and to others! Start with one of these suggestions:
- Create a space for yourself (it could be just carving out some time for just YOU! Self-care, reading, taking a bubble bath, going to the hair salon. Step out of your comfort zone and try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance. It could be learning a musical instrument, taking up painting, or even traveling to a new destination. Embracing new experiences can help maintain cognitive function and promote personal growth.
- Nourish your mind and book a full hour with your counselor or psychotherapist to explore new ways to reinvent yourself. Allow space to dive deeper into your emotions and give yourself permission to feel. Leap year serves as a reminder that change is possible, at any age, and that personal growth should be an ongoing journey. Whether it’s overcoming fears, facing adversity, or pursuing lifelong dreams, leap year encourages us to take a leap of faith and believe in our ability to grow and evolve.
- Go out with an old friend, with no-agenda. Just to share time, space, and being. Maintaining strong social connections is crucial for overall well-being. Try to nurture existing relationships and forge new connections. Spending time with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious and can provide a sense of belonging and contribute to a happier and more fulfilling life.
- Join a dating online platform if looking for a companion or if you are single, divorced, or bereaved and would like to meet someone, (If not computer savvy, take a FREE course at your local library, no excuses! When finding your candidate, legend has it that Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, granted women the right to propose to men on leap day, leading to the tradition of women proposing on February 29th, so go for it.
- Engage as a volunteer at a preferred organization in your community. There are countless ways for older adults to get involved and make a positive impact through volunteering. Just few options are: mentoring and tutoring—using the tricks of the old dog, participating in local charity events, offering your skills and expertise to nonprofit organizations, engaging in community service projects like serving meals at a soup kitchen or organizing recreational activities for seniors.
- Stay Active—and this does not mean joining, one more time, a gym, it means just to move, to engage in regular physical activity that suits your abilities and interests. This could be anything from walking, swimming, yoga, dancing, gardening, going up and down the stairs, walk to the store, do yard work, clean your house, or dancing, just keep on moving!
- If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to do, try to develop new hobbies and interests (learn a language, take on playing an instrument, create new dishes in the kitchen. Whatever can rock your boat and gives you joy is IN! Pursue your passions.
- Finally, do not procrastinate your health care and make this leap year, the one to repeat a full check-up. Make the most of your doctor. Everything taking care of yourself goes, after all why not devoting, simply, this year to love yourself more?
If in need of some inspiration, read what 100 centennials can say about living and aging well.
Among other things, they suggest you “… Keep your eyes open, never stay stuck in the past, , leap into the future, … and dance while you still can… ”