Sunday Inspiration: Living Longer

 Justin Vidamo The Fates on

We live in Sarasota, Florida where we are often surrounded by our elders, one of those politically correct terms for old people.

At social gatherings–of which there are many–some of the major topics are knee replacements, physical rehab, and drugs that work.

I’m delighted I still feel young, although whether I am or not is completely subjective. I’m blessed with good health, a loving family, and a passion for writing. Many of my neighbors and friends may be aging, but they are active and involved, with a variety of interests and houses filled with laughter, so they don’t seem old either.

From the internet I’ve learned the following:

  • You know you’re getting old when it takes longer to rest than to get tired.
  • You know you’re getting old when you have a choice of two temptations and you choose the one that will get you home earlier.
  • You know you’re getting old when you realize that caution is the only thing you care to exercise.
  • You know you’re getting old when getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.

Laughter is a good tonic for aging, but I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to grow older. Did you know today’s life expectancy is 78.7 years, a little longer for women and a little shorter for men? We tend to live longer than all the generations before us, but there is a desire among many to keep expanding those expectations. So here are my humble suggestions on living longer:

1. Stay Connected. All the studies I’ve seen say that the more connected we are to people and nature and God, the healthier we will be and the longer we will live. Being married, having good friends, spending time with family, taking part in a religious community, communing with Mother Earth, all of these sustain both our bodies and spirits. The trick is not to isolate ourselves, not to give up or give in, not to become a couch potato.

2. Have a purpose and a positive attitude. If our only purpose is to hang around as long as possible, I doubt we will. All of us need a reason to be alive, and the best reason is to help others. By reaching out to those who need us as friends or neighbors or as a volunteer, we’ve chosen our better selves. And who wants to live with the flip side?

3. Live in the here and now. There’s not much sense in living a long life if we’re not living a full life. Take time to reflect on the joys, the love, the beauty that surround us and give thanks for every moment.

4. Take care of yourself. Many of us have spent a lifetime taking care of others, so this is a good time to take care of our bodies and our health. Take a long walk or bike ride several times a week. Eat good healthy food. Play. Rest. Laugh. READ!

Too much to contemplate? Here’s the single best piece of advice I’ve come across. Look for good models of aging around you, people who are growing older with grace, joy, passion, and love, and then simply do what they do. After forty years of close association with churches, I have a number of role models from whom I watched and learned.  But if you weren’t that lucky? How about George Burns who died at age 100.

George said, “I don’t believe in dying. It’s been done. I’m working on a new exit. Besides, I can’t die now — I’m booked.”

Stay booked. I sure plan to.

If you would like more ideas on living longer check out this article, 16 Unexpected Ways to Add Years to Your Life.


  1. Debra on November 16, 2014 at 10:37 am

    I wish I could say I will live longer. I do not go to church even tho I believe in God, but I am so afraid of being vauable to people. Pride, do not ask for anything, I am more of a giver. I am critical of myself so I do not join for fear of being judged. The things that are listed terrifies me

  2. QuiltinGram on November 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

    My fathers parents lived to 92 & 96, mother’s til 75ish.
    Mom passed at 84 & Dad 87….dad was very active and we thought he would outlive his mother.
    So, guessing I’ll be around for at least another 20 yrs! Wonder how many more quilts I’ll get made.
    Have a great Sunday! We are having a nice sunny day but at -3′ C

    • Emilie Richards on November 16, 2014 at 11:24 am

      May I offer a shiver as a condolence? At least the sun is shining and there are quilts to cuddle under.

  3. Martha on November 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Emilie, such a timely topic. Thank you. Like George Burns, I am booked for a while. I feel young, yet one glance in the mirror reveals truth. I am the oldest in my writing group and in my book club and next to the oldest in a group of neighborhood women. I like to think that maybe I can offer a smidgen of inspiration. (The oldest in our neighbor group is 94. My maternal grandmother lived to be 104. My mother was her oldest child and mom’s 4 siblings always teased her about being Grandma’s favorite adding that their mother would outlive their sister (my mother) because she would worry about who would worry about my mom after she was gone. 😉 Sure enough, my mom died at age 83, six months before my grandmother.

  4. wendy on November 17, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Excellent advice, Emilie. I love all your suggestions. I think that #1 is the most important as we age, become empty nesters and for some, lose our spouses. I’ve found a ladies social group and just staying connected with this lively group of ladies has kept me from sinking into the depths of despair (my hubby died 4 years ago) as winter approaches.

    Love that pic of “Elders”!

  5. GladysMP on November 19, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    A prominent Democrat stated recently that nobody should live past the age of 75. I wonder how he will feel when he turns 74.

    Elderly people have made some great donations to the world and they do enjoy life.

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