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Friday, July 30, 2021

How long might I live and how to increase odds of life quality?

When we consulted a financial planner while still working, we asked her to assume we would live to at least 100. Does that seem optimistic to you?

My dad lived to almost 89 and my mom to 93. Both had serious health problems well before 70 (multiple serious heart problems and cancer with heavy chemo respectively) that I haven’t had. Hubby’s dad also lived to 93 despite being a heavy smoker to the end. So we think past 100 might be a possibility and have known people who lived to 107 with their mind and most of their body in good health.

How does this all relate to the idea of embracing my 70’s?

I remember clearly my Dad’s 75th surprise birthday party and how vital and active he was. Ten years later that was not the case although his mind was still good. Same for my Mom but add 5 years as she was still doing pretty well at 85. I also remember that at some point they simply stopped moving and getting much physical activity. Understandable but not good for them. 

Our modern lifestyle (internet browsing, texting) plus my inherited love of reading makes me at risk for the same fate.

They also both stopped reaching out to friends or planning activities that would take them out of their home. This was partly due to living in a rural area in a northern climate with long winters and eventually the inability to drive. However I saw the effect of social isolation on my mom once my dad died. She was lonely and craved some friendly social and physical contact but didn’t want to “bother” anyone to give her a ride so they stopped asking. She also wouldn’t move to assisted living or closer to my my brother or myself. 

My tendency to not reach out to initiate social activity puts me at the same risk especially since we were not successful at moving really close to either of our sons so far.

That leads to the first things I really need to develop strong habits for during the remainder of my 70’s.

- An exercise habit that I enjoy and that keeps up strength and flexibility 

- A social network where I can reciprocate well and stay engaged with people I truly care about

- Regular activities that get me out in the larger world and feed my interests and keep me interesting 

I’m starting this thought process at nearly 72 because - well, the pandemic. Better late than never.

10 comments:

  1. Good for you, Juhli! I see the isolation issue with my mother, too. She thrives on contact with others but has made no friends since moving here seven years ago. This past year has been really hard on her. As her hearing and eyesight deteriorate, I see the isolation even more. I wish she could "see" how much more engaged she is with others when she wears her hearing aids, but she says they don't work.
    C and I speak often about how we need to call each other on those habits of shutting ourselves off and getting exercise, but expecting each other to police isn't very conducive to a healthy marriage... Good on you for taking steps to live well!

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    1. Thanks Liz and how hard on your mother and you both. My Dad wore a hearing aid from my earliest memories as he had hearing loss from being on a bomber crew in WWII. I imagine it was easier for him to adjust as a young man who needed it to work. I do remember him turning it off when my brother and I got really loud so he could concentrate on what he was doing!

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  2. Yes, like you I aim to reach out to friends and stay socially connected. Since I live alone that is VIP. I have friends from work I still see, and several good friends from church, and one from a women's group that began this year. Each friend enriches my life. My newest friend was born and raised in Japan so I learn a lot from her different insights and she learns from me.

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    1. It sounds like you are doing really well in staying connected. We have moved across the country twice and that has impacted maintaining friendships each time. After 4 years hear including the pandemic shutdowns I have several close friends and that is wonderful.

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  3. What a great blog post that certainly got me thinking. I'm an introvert so I don't really 'socialize' anyway but I do like to go out to a coffee shop or get bagels and sit and watch people. ( well before covid). I think the moving part is really important and I do walk almost everyday but I think about what about when I can't or don't. It's kind of scary really. Your ideas are good ones!!

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    1. You are actually one of my inspirations regarding exercise commitment! None of us knows what will happen health wise but being physically fit in the meantime is very helpful for those things we can avoid.

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  4. I think planning to live to 100 or beyond makes good financial sense. It sure can't hurt to have an optimistic outlook! It sounds like you come from long-living parents. Mine passed at 80 and 77, but I'm hoping to outlive both of them! Whenever I read or hear info about what might increase and enrich life, I try to study it and incorporate it. Both my parents lives were probably adversely affected by extra weight that they carried so I've been gradually changing eating habits and I'm finally 5 lbs away from reaching "normal weight" according to the BMI index. It has taken me a long, long time, but I feel so much better. It's amazing how much we can accomplish with small, steady steps forward. Juhli, I admire your goals and it will be fun to read about your progress. I appreciate this thought-provoking post!

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    1. Congratulations on your success with weight loss! That is a great accomplishment. I didn't mention it but my MIL died at 80 from lung cancer after being a heavy smoker since her teens. Since neither of us has ever smoked we don't factor her lifespan into our thoughts.

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  5. I just visited my sister yesterday. She is 74, has dementia, and was just put on hospice. When she and our eldest sister were both diagnosed with dementia a couple of years ago, their situations played a part in my deciding to go back to work full time at 62. It definitely keeps my brain active and forces more social interaction. However it is very sedentary. I must work on that.

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    1. I am so sorry to hear about your sister. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts.

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