I live near an “upscale” retirement community. In a recent widely distributed community newsletter, the retirees were in an uproar because younger people were trying to muscle their way in and disrupt what I call their “snoozing” lifestyle. They resent the noise and vitality of younger people and are unafraid to verbalize their displeasure.
But wait . . .isn’t there always a “fly in the ointment” type of person who doesn’t want to do what the group wants to do?
One resident spoke up and said she wanted to live like a young person. That started a firestorm of resentment from her neighbors.
Of course, I had to open my big mouth and express the innocent thought that if you want to live like a young person, perhaps moving into a quiet retirement community isn’t such a good idea. I was told, in effect, to butt out and “you just wait until you are old.” (I’m waiting.)
If you live in a typical quiet retirement community and want to live like a young person (however you define living like a young person), DO IT. You don’t have to get approval or tell anyone about it. However, if you decide to have a keg party with feisty widower residents or with some younger guys you met at a bar, make sure the festivities are over by 9 PM. People may be trying to sleep. Although you are different, you must be a considerate neighbor. If you are not thoughtful, someone will call the police, and police cars in your community are not a “good look.”
Okay — let’s get down to business and see what it takes to live like a young person in a retirement community — or anywhere.
Rules for living like a young person
- Be “paranoid” about guarding and improving your health. Mental and physical health are your most important possessions as you age. Do what you can to avoid becoming dependent. Don’t ask or expect others to do what you can do for yourself. Please educate yourself about nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise. Many medical schools do not teach about nutrition, so don’t rely too much on your doctor for guidance.
- Believe it’s possible to control your aging process. Just as the earth is not flat, “old age decline” is not inevitable. David A. Sinclair, Ph.D., in his new book, Lifespan, Why We Age — and Why We Don’t Have To, believes that the decline attributed to the passage of time is a curable disease. There is no question in my mind. I believe that it is true.
- Visualize your future and commit to making it happen. You are lucky if you have not fully adopted or internalized the traditional “I am retired” script. Your mind and body will then know what you want to do instead and help you get to where you want to go. This one is a biggie. Think about it.
- Engage in rigorous mental management. Stop negative self-talk (“I’m too old to do that,” “I’m having a senior moment”), and do not indulge in self-deprecating remarks about your age, abilities, or circumstances. How you think and what you think about most often is more powerful than you may imagine.
. Deliberately disconnect from people and influences that drag you down and make you feel old. Stay away from “happy” retirees who socialize, drink, and gossip to pass the time. That’s all they have or want. Don’t tell “old people” jokes. They are demeaning and not funny. You can be and have so much more.
- Dare to be “different.” A hallmark of oldness is fear of change and the inability to accept new ideas. Associate with sensible younger people to see life through fresh, adventurous eyes. Constantly monitor how you change over time and work to hold on to youthful attributes.
Even if you have common “elderly diseases” such as diabetes, arthritis, IBS, or whatever, you have the power to control your aging process. Choose to live in a state of dynamic, seamless growth. The result is an incredible payoff for choosing to live like a young person, no matter where you live.