Growing old is a blessing, especially if you age with elegance and fulfillment. Every moment that you are blessed to be alive makes you that moment older. These moments become seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and years. The instance these moments halt, we stop ageing, but by implication, one is also not alive anymore … So, let’s make the most of each moment, as these moments are the building blocks of age!

There is a fundamental difference between biological pre-programmed ageing and simply allowing our bodies to decay. Our goal must be to grow old gracefully rather than decaying slowly. By doing a few simple things, 70% of “normal” age-related decay and subsequent incapacity, can be staved off almost until the end. When done, this will attribute to the “best years of your life”, truly being the best.

Ageing changes our bodies, and is unique for everyone due to factors beyond our control such as your genetic predisposition and the environment. Various factors can be influenced such as lifestyle, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, occupation, chronic stress and sport activities.

As we age, our hair thins, turns gray and we lose skin elasticity. We experience changes to our senses. Prebiopsy, where “Our arms get too short to read” occur due to the lenses in our eyes losing flexibility, and struggling to focus on close-up images. Hearing loss (Presbycusis), happens slowly over time. Age impacts the vestibular system, responsible for a person’s balance and spatial orientation; if affected, we experience dizziness and balance problems.

Bone density decreases and muscles atrophy (waste away), making fractures and loss of strength a real possibility. Ageing may result in the occurrence of chronic diseases including hypertension (increased blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol levels) and Type 2 diabetes. As our brains age cognitive decline may occur, ranging from forgetfulness to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Now for the good news! There are many things that can be done to stave off this decline. It is never too late to implement changes to improve our ageing process. Acquire reading glasses and hearing devices when they become necessary. Improved hearing ensures that we stay connected and part of a conversation, improving social interactions, giving security and assisting brain functions to improve memory.

Staying physically active is paramount. A daily walk does wonders to improve your mood, your bone and muscle strength, your joint health and assists you in insulin regulation to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise accelerates your heart rate to facilitate an increased blood and oxygen supply to the muscles. This in turn makes the muscles stronger and more coordinated. Exercise helps to improve the immune system and sleep quality. Brain chemistry changes during exercise fighting depression, boosting vitality and energy. Start slow and build your endurance gradually. Always consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program and go for regular medical checkups.

Eat healthy, wholesome, unprocessed foods on most days.

Find your inner passion! Take part in exiting activities such as a creative hobby that motivates you to get up in the morning, banishing boredom and depression.

Spend time in nature, be thankful and smile often. A sense of humour sparks daily joys. Spend time with family and friends, enjoy local communities or church activities. Join a book club, bowling club, cycling club or Pilates club. Pets are wonderful companions and studies have shown that people with pets age better and live longer. Keep the mind active with activities such as reading, playing Sudoku, crossword puzzles or learning a new language.

Never regret growing older, it is a privilege many are denied.

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is that you are the pilot.” Michael Altschuler