So you’ve got a seniors card (perhaps), are retired (possibly), and happily living alone or with a partner. You’ve sorted out your financial affairs and have enough to live on for the long, healthy life you expect to enjoy. All the house renovations are complete, and there’s time for another fulfilling project. You’ve had medical checks all your life and the health scorecard looks good. Each day you fall blissfully asleep for eight hours, and are excited to start a new day with renewed curiosity and vigor ...
This might not be the reality for most blokes heading into the third stage of life, but there’s no reason why aging can’t be a positive and fulfilling experience for each individual whatever their circumstance.
In 2017, engineer Paul Tasner gave a TED talk recounted the day he was fired at the age of 64 after 40 years of continuous employment. He didn’t want to retire, so he turned to consulting ‘without any passion whatsoever’.
Tasner later used his expertise to develop a product in clean technology to become an entrepreneur at the age of 66, and so began the most meaningful passage of his work life.
In his book The Third Stage of Life: Aging in Contemporary Society, buddhist Daisaku Ikeda says the third stage in life is like a third youth. "Youth is not something that fades with age. Our attitude toward life is what makes us young. As long as we have a forward-looking, positive attitude and spirit of challenge, we will gain depth as people and our lives will shine with a brilliance that is ours alone."
More specifically, three Big Ideas for men over 65 to live healthy, happy lives might include:
Stay involved and socialise with others
“Learning a new skill keeps your brain working and may protect you against dementia,” advises Vic Gov’s Better Health website. Seeing friends, trying something new, developing or expanding a social network, volunteering, and joining a new group are all ways to energise your life. There are a growing number of men’s groups catering specifically to seniors, namely: Older Men: New Ideas in Victoria, Men’s Sheds (1000 across the Australia) and the The Older Men’s Network (TOMNET) in Queensland.
Stay physically active
Regular physical activity has many benefits and while fitness levels vary enormously across the community, doing some activity is considered better than doing none. Says Better Health: physical activity, ‘can help you sleep better, stimulate your appetite and may reduce your risk of heart disease, dementia and falls. It also helps improve and maintain your fitness, strength and balance.’ Each week, try to cover the following in your choice of activities: fitness (to maintain heart health, for example swimming, cycling, fast walking); strength (to maintain muscle tone and bone density, for example lifting weights, doing push-ups and squats); balance (for stability, such as Tai Chi) and flexibility (to ward of aches and keep you moving better, for example stretching and yoga).
Eat healthy food
Nutrition may suffer as blokes age, especially if they have developed poor eating habits over the years and never really took time to learn how to cook. It's never too late to change! Better Health has some simple tips to start with that include drinking six to eight cups of water a day, eating three meals from the five main food groups each day (vegetables, fruit, lean meats and fish, diary, grains and cereals), avoiding foods high in sugar, having at least one alcohol-free day every week, and avoiding foods that have a lot of saturated fat (like biscuits, pastries, fast foods) and that contain a lot of salt.
“No man can stop the clock, but every man can slow its tick,” wrote the Harvard Medical School in 2014. “Research shows that many of the changes attributed to aging are actually caused in large part by disuse.”
What are the other ways men over 65 can stay healthy and happy?
Take this question to your International Men’s Day get-togethers before, on or after International Men’s Day on November 19, 2020.
Let’s get Australia talking about men!