I just returned from accompanying my 86 year old mother to Florida. What a blessing to be able to spend time with my mother and at the same time leave the Chicago cold and ice for over a week! We spent most of our time with our “senior citizen” relatives and friends of my mother, none of whom seemed “old” to me at all. We attended the 90 year old birthday party of my Great-Aunt Evy. Her husband, my Uncle Phil, will be 99 years old in May. My aunt still line-dances and he just gave up tennis last year.
We stayed with another aunt and uncle, Bubbles and Sherm, who live in a beautiful country club community. They are role models for healthy aging and are more active than I am. My uncle and I exercised together at their health club; my aunt had already worked out earlier with her trainer. We also visited with Linda Gaibel, originally from Chicago, now in her late 60’s, who still works as a geriatric care manager in Delray Beach.
My mother kept up with my pace and we ran around the State of Florida, from coast to coast, and left our laughs and good conversation at every turn. She was a pleasure to be with and never complained about one ache or pain.
As I observed my mother, our hosts and companions, most over 80, and all so content and active, I started to remember the book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. I realized that in a way, Florida is another type of “Blue Zone”. Successful “aging in place” seems to be the norm. I noticed our friends and family practicing many of Buettner’s lifestyle characteristics that add to longevity.
Some of these are:
- Put your family first
- Keep physically activity
- Be socially active and integrated into a community
- Keep stress levels low
- Don’t smoke
- Eat well
When I received my Masters in Gerontology many years ago, a professor shared the following quote with our class that I never forgot, “As you age, your status goes from wealth to health”.
What are your plans for healthy aging? Can you start incorporating some of the Blue Zone habits into your daily lifestyle? I sure am going to try to do so!
Marla Levie, BSW, MA, President and Founder of Focus on Aging, has successfully been providing marketing consulting and recruiting services to the elder care market and to other service-related professions in the Chicago area for over 20 years. Use the contact tab to email Marla for additional information about her services.