Dear Elders: Actively Aging

The definition of “old age” is changing, it might not seem like how many people would picture it in their mind. A report from Age UK reveals that people between the ages of 60-64 prefer the term “mature adult” rather than “senior” when they refer to themselves. Plus, the fact that there will be more than 1 million people over the age of 100 in the United States in 2050 provides a perfect reason for elders to celebrate their age, open their mind to new activities and new relationships, and simply enjoy living.

According to a report by the UK’s Office for National Statistics, 75% of people aged over 50 no longer care about others’ opinions of them, 61% enjoy life now more than when they were younger, and the happiest age group is between 65 and 79 years old. As ageism activist Ashton Appleton said, “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured. It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.”

Joe Stoeltje takes part in a chant at the beginning of a yoga class at Casa de Luz on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. It was Stoeltje’s first yoga class after his daughter encouraged him to attend.

The New Old School

Baby boomers may not be the most tech savvy of the bunch, yet we now see celebrities and fashion icons from age of 60 years and more through the access to the online and social media platforms.

Now that older generations have adopted social media; hence senior online influencers. Take Jenny Kee, a 70-year-old Chinese-Australian fashion designer who is also a fashion icon for her younger generations of followers. Similarly, Beatrix Ost is an artist, writer, film director, designer, actress, and theater producer. At the age of 75, her energy, enthusiasm, and vivacity burst into life through her gaze, facial expressions, turbans, and signature red lips, making her a role model for people of all generations.

In addition to having access to the digital world, active lifestyle and good health is another important thing for an aging society. An aging population does not give in to physical limitations. Instead, they find ways to embrace and live with them with the help of many options available: Grey yoga designed specifically for the elderly, or an age-appropriate fitness program like Nifty after Fifty – a full body training program focusing on seniors’ body structure and bone density improvement while relieving muscle pain. Not only does it help improve physical strength, such a program allows elders to engage socially, alleviating the feelings of loneliness.

Baby boomers remember the 1960s very well. They still pursue some of the events that have a significant meaning in their teens to guide the lifestyle in their seventies, such as the thrill of being at a music festival. This explains why there is an increasing number of festival goers aged 55 and over at Bonnaroo, T in the Park, and Glastonbury every year.

These examples illustrate the changing meaning of “aging”. It is not about counting numbers; it is an option to live to the fullest and “happiest”.

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