Each of us has the ability to boom. To flourish in later life and age successfully.
We define for ourselves what booming means for us individually, however, the elements that enable us to boom are common. Namely the paramount importance of planning to retain one’s control, the immense value of positivity and the need for purpose.
Of course, there are challenges and obstacles to ageing successfully, but we can overcome these through an understanding that irrespective of one’s health or social circumstances, there are passions to be pursued and potential to be realised.
The ageing of our population is one of humanity’s greatest triumphs and should be celebrated accordingly. Through the ageing of our population, we will enjoy generations with an unprecedented level of wisdom, experience, knowledge, expertise and capacity.
The potential this provides for social, economic and environmental benefit must be realised. Indeed, it is our collective obligation to ensure that it is.
The first and most important step in seizing this opportunity is to redefine the way we view ageing. Our ability to influence the perception of ageing exists at all levels.
We can all adopt the more positive approach towards ageing in our conversations, our actions, our behaviours. The most powerful, of course, being our personal commitment to boom!
To me, we are booming if we are engaged with the world around us and are happy and satisfied with life. Booming is about self-improvement and being productive, cherishing our home life and being a good citizen, having adequate finances and maintaining good health.
I don’t mean we have to be constantly grinning and dancing in the street, although moments of unbridled joy are definitely encouraged. It is more to do with day-in-day-out wellbeing, enjoying ourselves, doing good and keeping healthy, realising our potential and pursuing our passions.
Successful ageing also means having a positive impact on others, be they our spouse or a total stranger. The sooner we boom, the better. However, it is never too late to begin. In this way, we can have a measure of control over our quality of life as we age.
The time comes for us all when we look in the mirror and realise that we are no longer 20, or even 35. When that happens, it’s important not to exclaim, “Oh no!” and fall in a heap, but to accept the reality.
Let’s not waste time mourning the fact that we are suddenly 60 or 70. Let’s instead embrace it and appreciate the opportunities that exist now and in the years to come.
It’s in our power to unlock the exciting world that lies in wait for us like a treasure chest half-buried in the sand. Yes, inevitably, there will be illness and loss and regret at what is no more and can never be again, but if we let positivity dominate negativity, we can still lead a wonderful life.
Consider all the things which are in our power to do.
We can love and work, be a caring, involved family member and friend. We can learn and travel, read and write, paint, play music or just sit back, close our eyes and listen to the masters.
We can immerse ourselves in deep and meaningful conversations and enjoy good food. We can be a vital member of the community. We can be a mentor. We can learn a new language or reduce our golf score, nurture friendships. We can walk and swim, play bowls, go to the footy, take our dog to the park, join a choir or amateur dramatic society.
We can grow flowers and plant trees, or simply stand in awe as the sun rises over the sea. From working closely with older people every day, I know that most, if not all, of the foregoing pleasures are within everyone’s grasp.
There are genuine threats to us ageing well. Namely negativity – both our own and that of society – the loss of control and, of course, isolation, which leads to loneliness.
Indeed, booming is not easy, but the formula is simple – positivity, planning and purpose. If we embrace each of these in our lives and adapt to our circumstances, then we can overcome the threats to our happiness in later life.
Getting older should not mean inactivity and an irreversible spiral into decrepitude. Not when you can open your mind and heart, and experience the fun and wellbeing that are waiting now and great times ahead.
In short, we can age successfully. We can boom. Age is not a thing to be pitied, to apologise for, to fear, resist, to regard as a sign of doom. Older age can be a bright and vibrant place if we want it to be and make it so.
Booming: A Life Changing Philosophy for Ageing Well (RRP $32.99) is available at Dymocks, Harry Hartog, Booktopia, Book Depository and all other good bookstores.
Write to [email protected] with your tip for ageing successfully. The five best responses will win a free copy of Booming: A Life Changing Philosophy for Ageing Well.
About the author
Marcus Riley is chief executive of BallyCara, a charitable organisation and public benevolent institution providing accommodation, health, and care services for older people, as well as advice to service-based industries.
From an early age, Mr Riley had a passion for older people and an interest in aged services. He studied business management and has worked in the aged-care industry for the past two decades. He is the immediate past chair and current director of the Global Ageing Network and a member of the steering committee for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP). He is also associated with the United Nations’ Stakeholder Group on Ageing for the Asia-Pacific region.