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Seven significant things I’d tell my younger self about the aging process

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By Carol Marak

Growing older isn’t easy. I hear those words from my friends and family. It’s hard to see them suffer physically, strain mentally and emotionally, and most of all, struggle financially.

It’s not unusual for us to reflect on the past and see our mistakes. We all have regrets. And if we look back long enough, we’d say, “If I could do it all again, I would...”

I’m sharing with readers what my older friends and acquaintances would tell their 21-year-old selves about life, taking care of their bodies, saving for retirement and staying emotionally balanced. 

• “Take care of your teeth. Plan for retirement. Stay physically fit and exercise forever. Enjoy the stamina you have now and don’t take it for granted. Talk to people over 60 the same way you would talk to anyone. Take a yoga class, drink water, find people to travel with you. (FYI, I’d hate to be 21 again.)”

• “Ask, ‘Where do I want to be in 5 years, 10 years,’ and stretch that out to 20, 30, and 40.  Review the realities of life — you may have a great paying job right now, but that can and does often end. Prepare for ending up alone. Watch out for insincere people and your health, and know you are your best advocate. Enjoy life! As for the folks over 60; don’t talk down to them, they didn’t grow up with computers, cell phones, etc. And, they’re taking advantage of ‘slowing down and smelling the roses.’ So, push them. They’re neither stupid nor lazy, but have different priorities.”

• “Save for the future. I was self-employed, so I made a habit of saving and investing. Compound interest is no joke. I set financial goals and worked toward them. But, don’t forget to enjoy life along the way!”

• “Respect your elders, one day you’ll be one. Pay it forward. Get to know a person by personal contact; visit them, call them, write to them, send cards. Texting a smiley face emoji is not bonding. Listen to the wisdom, write it down, pass it on.”

• “Watch out for people who sap your joy. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and lift you up. People who are 60 feel 40 in their mind. They just move slower. Engage and ask them for advice. They have ‘been there, done that.’ ”

• “Enjoy other people’s families. I’m an adopted grandma and love it. I can do things for kids that their parents can’t. Sometimes, it’s just being listening ear. Sometimes it’s to introduce them to Times Square, theater, and fine dining experiences.”

• “Early on, find a mentor, someone who’s living the life you want, and listen closely to the advice.”

Carol Marak, aging advocate, Seniorcare.com. She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.