There are a multitude of myths, stereotypes and assumptions about older adults: we cannot care for ourselves, we are too old to hold down jobs, we cannot learn new things in the workplace, we are not as active as the rest of the population, we should simply accept illness and deterioration as a natural part of aging … and the list goes on.
Mature Americans are busting these stereotypes every day. The predominance who are living into their 80s, 90s and early 100s share one common denominator: a healthy, active lifestyle.
Surveys tell us that Gen Xers — adults born between 1965 and 1980 — expect to live into their 90s and even to 100. But they also say they haven’t put plans in place to achieve their goals for the future.
What are the steps that will lead you to your personal fountain of youth? Just ask a healthy, active senior citizen: stay physically and socially active, eat healthy foods, exercise your brain as well as your body, stop smoking, plan for a financially sound retirement and get annual medical checkups that include screenings and preventative measures.
The reality is those same Gen Xers, who began turning 50 two years ago, know what they should do to improve their longevity odds but in many cases are too overwhelmed to get started. Between working, navigating changes in the job market, caring for loved ones, experiencing financial strains and undergoing a generational identity crisis, many Gen Xers say they simply don’t take the time to plan for their own aging in good health and prosperity.
The baby boomer generation and the greatest generation certainly know the feeling. There was a time we of a certain age needed to be in denial about the realities of growing older. And look at us now: we are leading the way to longevity.
It’s never too late to begin the habits that can keep you active, healthy, safe and financially secure. If you need motivation, look no further than the Pasadena Conference on Healthy Aging on Saturday, April 22, sponsored by the Pasadena Senior Center. There will be a full slate of workshops, demonstrations, health screenings and more on the campus of the First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for people 50 and older of all backgrounds and abilities. You’ll gain new perspectives, connect with others who have common interests, increase your knowledge and get energized for a bright future. Bring a friend! Learn more about the conference at www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org, email NancyA@pasadenaseniorcenter.org or call (877) 236-9459. Attendance is free, and complimentary lunch will be provided to everyone who has registered in advance.
You’ll find even more inspiration at the Pasadena Senior Games and California Senior Games Championships from May 6 to July 16. The games will feature mature adults from 50 to 90+ in nearly 25 athletic competitions from archery to volleyball. These remarkable athletes will compete to achieve their personal best and are living proof that physical activity is one of the keys to longevity. Last year, Donald Roser won the gold medal in the javelin throw for the 90 to 94 age category, and Denise Hearst took gold in the women’s bicycle road race for the 50 to 59 age category. Everyone 50 and older is welcome to compete in any of the events. Registration is now open, so what are you waiting for?
If you’re not ready to compete, please come cheer on the athletes and get motivated! It doesn’t cost a thing to be a spectator. You can learn more about the games, including schedules, venues, registration and more, at www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org.
The Pasadena Senior Center has produced the Pasadena Conference on Healthy Aging for 16 years and the Pasadena Senior Games/California Senior Games Championships for 24 years. As an independent, nonprofit organization, we are committed to older adults aging well and flourishing.
There has never been a better time in history to be an older adult. Don’t shy away from aging. Embrace this time with zest and enthusiasm so you can live the long, happy and exceptional life you deserve. It’s time to discover your fountain of youth.
Akila Gibbs is the executive director of the Pasadena Senior Center.