5 Guidelines To Aging
Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. Deuteronomy 34:7
“Dear Dr. Sala,” wrote a friend, “Would you have any suggestions to help people who have reached their eighties and feel they have nothing to live for? I admit feeling very useless at times. I am 82, in a wheelchair, and have little energy.”
In recent days, there has been a graying of society as more and more of us are living longer and longer; and with the years come new challenges. Frankly, every year I hear from more and more people who are struggling with the challenges of ageing. I’ve done two things, thinking about this issue. First, I’ve asked again, “What does God say in His Word about this?” Then, I’ve talked with a number of seniors who are there and asked them what they have found that is helpful, which I can share with you.
The fact is that the number of men and women in their eighties has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Better medicines, better nourishment, and better health care in general have combined to give a lot of seniors more years. Whereas many would have succumbed to illnesses a few years ago, they now often fight back and have years to enjoy, provided they can enjoy them.
Far sooner than we would like to admit, the years turn into decades and we find ourselves doing fewer and fewer things for the first time and more and more things for the last time. How can seniors handle the changes of life?
May I suggest the following:
Guideline #1: Come to grips with the fact that you are here by the will of God, not fate or chance. God makes no mistakes and suffers no surprises. Paul wrote, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…” Never forget, until He calls you, you’ve got work to do.
Guideline #2: Realize that your true value as a person is dependent on your character and not your productivity. One of the flaws of our thinking, especially as we age, is that we are not worth much unless we are producing. This, of course, runs contrary to everything that the Bible says. It tells us that you are of value and worth, not because of what you do, but because of what you are. Paintings and fine books only become more valuable with age, and so it is with people.
Guideline #3: Accept your lessening strength with grace. “I greet each day as a gift,” says Beatrice Cole, at age 90. She says that the last decade, from age 80 to 90, has been the best gift of her life, though she has been alone most of that time except for the company of her pet poodle.
Guideline #4: Force yourself to get out and mix with people. “After I lost Ethel,” said Frank Emery, “I forced myself to get out, to travel, to play golf, to be with people. Sitting at home, refusing to reach out to others, only compounds your loneliness.”
Guideline #5: Refuse to accept defeat at the hand of yourself. Theologian Dr. Wilbur Smith once wrote, “It’s no sin growing old, but it’s mighty inconvenient.” My wife of 60 years and I recently co-authored a book entitled, Age is Just a Number. Now that we are both in our 80s, it’s nice to write about something we have experienced firsthand. As the horses of time gallop down the lessening hills, share your life experiences with those who follow in your footsteps. Your memories will be with them long after you are gone. Indeed. Never forget that age is a matter of the mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Resource Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11