When I was a young man, the very notion that one day I would be a senior citizen was something I avoided thinking about, because all the elderly people I knew were physically handicapped to various degrees, and most seemed well past the ability that they could do any of the sort of activities I loved to do, and I still intend to do.

I remember my dear old father saying, “Remember son when I used to say, “When you get to ninety, you’re better off dead. Well, I can tell you, now that I have past that age, that’s just how you feel until you get to the age of eighty-nine.”

The point I’m making is that most people focus on their financial future, but don’t think about maintaining their physical capabilities and their general and mental health as they age. Those senior years come your way very quickly. One minute you’re young and having fun, and the next you’re turning down the car stereo to see better.

As far as I’m concerned, the secret to surviving old age, is that you should focus with the determination that you will still be able to be both mentally and physically capable to do the things you once enjoyed. Now maybe some of those activities you may never get to do again, but you need to look at keeping in shape as if you’ll still be able to do them in the future.

The goal is to build up that motivation to the point that nothing is going to stand in your way of achieving your goal.

If you’re over weight, do something about it, and seek dietary advise from an expert. If you’re unfit join a gym, and get some professional advice on what exercises are safe for you.

Look at where you want to be in 5 to 10 years’ time. You have to have a dream to focus on, and get determined.

If your overweight, you say to yourself, “This fat is coming off, one way or another, but it’s coming off. No excuses.”

I headed this article “Don’t let the old man in.” It could be “Don’t let the old woman in”. The message is the same. That’s my mental stimuli that I say to myself, because once you start saying, “Oh I can miss the gym this week, one big slice of cheese cake won’t matter, let’s have pizza for dinner again,” it’s the slippery slope to going backwards with all you have achieved. It’s not like you can’t enjoy these things, but you must limit yourself.

Now that I have past middle age, and now at the ripe age of seventy-two, I have a few friends, who like myself, are determined to enjoy life to the max, while we still can. We meet at the gym to exercise three times a week, and this helps with the commitment to stay in shape, and it will help you greatly if you can talk a few friends into getting in shape, and exercise as a group. Also, the stimulating conversations you’ll have with your friends, and also with the gym staff, will help to keep your mind active.

The interesting thing is that my friends, like myself, keep very active, and we are always looking for the next exciting challenge. David who is a close friend, a few years my senior, travelled with me across India a couple of years ago, and we had a wonderful time. This included attending a massive Hindu wedding. I seem to recall he also did the Kokoda trail not that long ago, which is very demanding, with lots of climbing over what are more like mountains, rather than hills. A few years ago, I spent many months learning to fly a plane, but my long-term ambition is to go cruising on a large live aboard catamaran. I used to be a very active scuba diver, and I still think I will be doing this again at some point in the future.

I have just completed building a motorcycle camper trailer, and with the company of my little dog, I plan to ride across Australia from Hobart to Perth Western Australia and back. Now I do have a very comfortable four-wheel drive, but life is not about being in a rush to get to the end, it’s about enjoying the adventure of the journey.

To some, all of this is crazy talk. At my age I should just take the safe option, sit back and take live easy… WRONG!!!

As I see it, there are two options. One is striving to improve your health, and physical capabilities, and the other is letting that old man in, and become less active day by day, until you become reliant upon others to do simplest of daily tasks. `

If you’re thinking of starting this at some time in the very distant future, know that the longer you put this off there are parts of your body that once you let them become dysfunctional, it can be almost impossible to get them back. Simple things like being able to get your shoes and sock on, cutting your toe nails, having enough balance to get your underpants on without leaning on something. This may sound a bit of a joke to some, but if you plan to stay as independent as long as possible, lots of every day seemingly unimportant little things like this can make your independence very difficult.

Life is what you make it, so focus on your dream, and be determined to make it happen, and whatever you do, don’t let the old man in.

by Rodney G

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