Can’t We Expect to be Healthy at Any Age?
“I just hope I am healthy enough to enjoy my retirement years,” a friend commented. Interestingly, this friend is 10 years from making the decision to retire, yet seems to be worrying far in advance. And, that same sentiment has been expressed to me by others who are considering retirement. So, that started me thinking – why shouldn’t we have an expectation of health instead of a dread of impending demise when we decide it’s time to retire?
An AARP poll once reported that many baby boomers believe their health is pretty much out of their control and will decline in their advancing years. They fear expensive illnesses and injuries that they believe will inevitably happen.
But, is this the only way to think about health after retirement?
A Chicago Tribune article of July 22, 2015, reported that more Americans would prefer to be older rather than younger. This attitude is becoming more common, according to InsideTracker – a health analytics company. They released powerful statistics that contradict the AARP poll…saying instead that people are not afraid to get older. This article also suggests that Facebook accounts of vacationing retirees helps “shatter this myth that by the time you’re in your 60s and your 70s, you are in a rocking chair out in the country,” said Dr. Tiffany Sanders, a Chicago-based psychologist.
As another example of this possible shift in thought about aging, Hannah Grufferman, author of Best of Everything After 50, recently spoke to a beauty company and the theme was not about turning back the aging clock, but about agelessness! She said, “Thank goodness we have evolved to where we are now, where ageless really means just transcending your number,” she said. “We’re not the total sum of our years. We’re so much more.”
While this is all very promising for those considering retirement, this idea of “agelessness” is actually nothing new.
Biblical accounts abound of those who were healthy in their later years. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, had a baby in her advanced years. Caleb declared that he was as strong at age 85 as he had been 45 years before. And, Moses reported his eyesight was not dimmed at age 120. They accomplished these almost impossible feats through faith and trust in God and by shedding any limiting beliefs about aging.
So, can we have experiences like these today?
Absolutely. I have a best friend who retired over 30 years ago and is still as healthy as the day she retired. She drives daily – sometimes to visit friends in other cities – and works as a Treasurer for an organization. She attributes having not seen a doctor since she was in her teens to her daily study of the Bible and the teachings of Christian Science. She certainly has an expectation of continuing good health and refuses to believe that a chronological number is able to limit her.
Mary Baker Eddy – who founded an international news organization, The Christian Science Monitor, in her late 80’s – wrote extensively about a spiritual approach to aging and age in her primary work. This radical approach to aging includes seeing life as spiritual and eternal – that is, life that is an expression of God and thus continuous, healthy, and without end or decay. Statements from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures like, “Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom” and “Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness” are reminders that we don’t have to expect age to bring about declining health.
An article in The Christian Science Monitor reported on the growing numbers of people who are 100 years or older and still very alert and active. It cites their thinking, attitude and practices as the basis for living past 100 “with their health and wits intact.” All those interviewed had exceptionally long, active lives after retirement.
While some may continue to identify with that AARP poll, it’s encouraging to see that the very latest Gallup research suggests a shift in the way we think about health after retirement – a belief that well-being gets better, not worse, with age. In that InsideTracker study, most said they plan to live into their 80s. Well, by viewing life as ageless – spiritual, not chronological – why not live healthy and productive lives into the 80’s or 90’s — and beyond — like Sarah, Caleb, Moses – and my friend.