5 Life Lessons learned from a 91-year-old woman
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I just returned from a 13 hour drive to see my mother-in-law and celebrate her 91st birthday. She is a very special lady and I have been blessed to have her in my life.
She was able to live independently until she was 89 when she fell and broke her pelvis. It was very sobering to watch the transformation from her living in her beloved home, with a lifetime of memories and treasures, to going to the hospital, to assisted living, and then permanently to a nursing home within a few short months.
I have known her for 26 years and this woman was up early cooking, cleaning, entertaining friends and family, gardening, plus she braided rugs in her spare time. She was a hard worker and never slowed down.
However now things have changed. Over the past two years, I have observed how this woman has responded to major life changes, including hip surgery.
After surgery, she started physical therapy. She was a star patient, doing everything they told her. Soon she ‘graduated’ but she wanted to stay strong so she continued with the exercises in her room and walked the hallways with her walker. She has continued this regimen faithfully and now walks every day up and down the hallways. She knows how many laps she has to do to walk a mile.
As we visited with her over the past few days, I realized that she has taught me a great deal about life, just by how she’s living every day. Here are the life lessons I learned:
Exercise is key at any age
It is very evident that exercise has kept my mother-in-law healthy and sharp at 91. I don’t need scientific research to show me the results. I saw living proof. One day she easily got up from her chair and started walking down the hall for lunch. She stopped and realized that she better go back and get her walker…”just in case”.
Nutrition is important
Even at 91, she knows she needs to watch what she eats and not gain too much weight. With a predominantly sedentary lifestyle, it’s easy to put on pounds. She rarely eats dessert, saving that for special treats. She eats a wide range of food, but doesn’t overeat. Plenty of water for hydration and no coffee or tea as it upsets her stomach.
Make the best of your situation
Looking around her room, it’s minimalistic. All she owns is in one small closet as the furniture isn’t hers. She doesn’t sound sad or bitter, she just knows that this is where she is at in life. I mention we need to get rid of stuff, she says to enjoy the things we have.
She has trouble with her eyesight, but uses a larger lighted magnifying glass to read the paper and stay informed.
Attitude makes all the difference
Not all days are easy for her, but she smiles at people, loves to laugh and enjoys good conversation. The staff love her because she has a positive attitude, makes an effort to remain active and is helpful to others.
Stay connected to friends & family & make new friends
Even though we’re several states away, we don’t worry about her because she has many people who stop by to visit and take her to appointments when my sister-in-law isn’t available. Former neighbors call every week.
She has never owned a TV, computer or cell phone, but does have a land line and enjoys phone calls. Walking with her one day, we noticed that she knows several of the residents both on her wing and the other hallways where she walks. She makes an effort to stay ‘hi’ or stop and chat.
Everyone is impressed with her mobility and attitude and think she’s great. I couldn’t agree more!
Here are things you and I can do everyday to help make any age better:
- Commit to doing 30 minutes of exercise every day. Include walking, biking, cardio, strength training or yoga.
This is the program I use: Super Body, Super Brain: The Workout That Does It All
- Remove processed foods from your diet and watch your sugar and caffeine intake.
- Learn to be content.
- Pick the right attitude daily
And most of all, make connections with people and stay engaged. Life is about living, loving and laughing…at any age.
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Kristy Klenk has reached the 55 (and counting) birthday and finds this stage of life and aging an interesting adventure. For over 20 years she has been on a journey of living a holistic lifestyle and continues to research its positive effects on aging.
Disclaimer: Information found on this website or links to other websites are for informational purposes only and not intended for medical advice. You know your body and your physical, emotional and mental situation. Consult your physician before making any changes.