Many of the age related diseases of the American elderly are said to inevitable and a normal part of aging. However, the occurance and extent of many of these disabilities is less frequent in other countries...for several reasons.
In most cultures, the elderly are revered and honored for their wisdom, good, fresh, whole foods are expected and older people still have a functional place in society- meaningful work- whether it is child care, physical work or passing on traditions-the storytellers. In other words, their bodies, minds and spirits are maintained and they live well..longer. Their late life quality is better. There is no escaping the changes of age and of eventual death, but the point is not to live forever, rather, to live well....
~ "To die young as late in life as possible." ~ Chinese Proverb
~ BODY ~
Bodily strength often declines with age. Muscle and bone mass can be maintained with adequate calcium and minerals-BUT- enzymes that help absorb and metabolize these nutrients become less efficient, so synthetic suppliments are hard to digest and absorbed only partially. Natural supplements are better, along with bone/muscle building foods, but an attempt to correct or fend off faulty enzymic action is the best course of action. The following Formula and food suggestions contain mild, easily absorbed nutrients that tone all of the bodily systems at once~
~ ELDER TEA ~
3 parts NETTLE Leaf
3 parts MINT
2 parts RASPBERRY Leaf
1 part OATSTRAW
1/8 part CAYENNE Powder-(for MEN)
1/8 part GINGER- (for WOMEN)
* As with all teas, 1-3 cups per day are sufficient. It is easiest to prepare it all at once, let steep for 4-8 hours, strain and then sip all day at room temperature *
All foods that are "crunchy" are good for bones and tendons and muscles: carrots, celery, apples, nuts, radishes, shellfish, seeds, broccoli...
All green/leafy (the darker and wilder, the better) foods contain Calcium and B vitamins, Magnesium, Copper- which aid in bone/muscle/collagen health and also supply needed nutrients to all body systems
Daily exercise is good, but it must work all muscle groups. Many people do not like to exercise, so it is important to find those that either interest you or are meaningful--or both:
Gardening, wood chopping/hauling, yard work, any sport, dance, yoga, swimming, walking......Whatever you do... KEEP MOVING ! Being idle for too long makes all aches/pains worse.
~ MIND ~
After retirement, keeping the mind nimble is important- and recommendations of doing puzzles/mind games can be fun..but ultimately, not very fulfilling. Volunteer as a 4-H leader, a Mentor, Literacy instructor or as a worker in an animal shelter or civic program. Run for a local office, become a substitute teacher.....Something that allows you to keep nurturing and creating is imperative..art, quilting, starting a book club..
~ A daily cup of Sage or Rosemary tea--maybe mixed with a bit of mint keeps circulation to the head in working order. (* they can also be added to the Elder Tea formula- 1/2 part each) Both herbs have an association with age and have been used before exams to increase memory. Sage is known for imparting wisdom and Rosemary is fondly used for "remembrance". They also have in common a very strong structure and tough leaves. To be tough and strong as we age is a good thing.
What is your passion? ...Or, what WAS it before you got busy with family and work? Dreams deferred can now be picked up again. Have you lived according to your beliefs or do you wish/feel the need to rectify past deeds? Are you stuck in your ways or willing to try new things or approaches now that a new phase of life has begun? Allowing yourself to go with the flow and break out of previous constrictions is a sure way of nurturing your body, mind and spirit.
In his early 60's, my father -in-law finally wanted to take up his dream of flying. After tamping down family fears, he began lessons and got his Pilot's License. Soon after, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, but was able to continue flying with another certified pilot. He noticed that while flying, many of his symptoms were absent or greatly diminished. He was able to fly for years and lived very well with this debilitating/degenerative disease for years longer than expected. Living his dream was one of his medicines.
Whatever your dream...Explore it..But sometimes, exploration can be daunting. So, how can you gird your loins for this task?
Research has shown that eating less makes us live longer--and we "feel" lighter of spirit when we eat less heavy foods. LAVENDER is another plant associated with older people--another sturdy plant. But its primary value is in its ability to tone/sooth the nervous system-without causing drowsiness. ELDERBERRY is one other herb that can be used by all ages, but has a reputation of having wisdom and imparting it. To acquire some fortitude and ease digestion, there is nothing better than Elderberry Cordial (which can be made simply by steeping elderberries in your favorite wine/cordial/brandy for a few weeks). An ounce a night after dinner works wonders on many levels. Elderberry tea for the teatotaler is almost as good. So, combining nerve tonification with better eating habits and a little after dinner "nip" can lighten many loads of the spirit and encourage you to listen to and follow your dreams.
~ For more in depth natural health information regarding growing older more gracefully, you may be interested in (S)age-ing Wisely- an on line herb class--AVAILABLE SOON