A list providing advice for aging has been circulating online. It starts out.: “Many of us are between 65 and death….” Perhaps you’ve seen it too. If not, I included it at the end of this post. The list is attributed to Alan S Bame. I have no idea who that is, but I want to give credit where credit is due.
I’m not quite in the targeted age group—not for a few more years and why rush things—but I’m close enough that I clicked to read both more of the article along with the comments. The general consensus is that it’s good advice, something we should take to heart. And yes, there are many items which are obviously worthwhile. Keep love alive. Do your part to stay healthy. Get out. Listen to others, including those younger than you. Don’t worry. Laugh. Forgive.
But there were three items on this list that caused me to get more and more agitated—an uncomfortable feeling for someone who hates to rock the boat. When it comes to these three points, I have to strongly disagree.
First of all, starting right there at number one, is that we should spend our savings on ourselves: “It’s time to use the money you saved up. Use it and enjoy it.”
Perhaps the author means “use it to bless others, and thus bring joy to yourself”—but that’s not the impression I get. Rather, I see an assumption that it’s our money, and we’re entitled to spend it on our own pleasures. That sounds lovely, but that’s not what the Bible says. Rather, God blesses us so we can bless others. He is looking for stewards who put the needs of others ahead of their own. (Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 12:15-21, and Philippians 2:3-4 apply here.) Perhaps we need to let God tell us how to spend our savings?
The article points out that leaving it to ungrateful children is a bad idea. Fine, but there are plenty of other options. Instead of squandering your extra cash on things you probably don’t need (and that your kids will eventually have to dispose of), why not use it to do some good in the world?
As Jesus pointed out, we’ll always have poor people who need our help. Or consider donating to another cause, such as conservation, education, or healthcare. If you don’t want to take the time and effort to research a worthy recipient, let a community foundation do the work for you.
The second item I disagree with is number 13. It starts out, “Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren.” My immediate thought was, “how Western!” Our culture places a high value on privacy, but much of the rest of the world has other priorities. For example, in India, the oldest son is expected to care for his parents as they age. Of course they will live together—it would be unthinkable to leave them to cope on their own.
Both of my grandmothers lived with my parents at one point. It wasn’t always easy, but it was the right thing to do. My preference would be to have separate quarters—a mother-in-law cottage or basement apartment—in the same residence. While that may not be practical, I hesitate to rule out cohabitation without at least giving it some serious consideration.
My final issue is with number 19: “If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others.” I realize that this is the culturally correct attitude, but it’s not an option for those who claim to follow Christ.
Most of us should recognize the passage at the end of Matthew, where Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 27:19-20) Trying to convince others that God loves them and wants to spend eternity with them isn’t a waste of time. In fact, we’d be utterly selfish to claim God for ourselves but not bother to extend his invitation to others.
Maybe “convince” is too strong a word. Arguing with someone about God doesn’t accomplish anything. But we should remember that we’re God’s ambassadors, and aim for a life (of both words and actions) that draws people to Christ.
So there you have my “three cents’ worth.” I think the moral of my post is that we need to analyze any words of advice before we embrace them. That’s especially important when so much of the wisdom is true. So much sounds good that we overlook the parts that aren’t, and just consume the whole package. Facebook in particular is a repository of memes and proverbs that sound deep and spiritual. They must be true—I saw it online!
Here is the entire list as I found it on Facebook:
Many of us are between 65 and death, i.e. old. this excellent list for aging . . . and I have to agree it’s good advice to follow.
- It’s time to use the money you saved up. Use it and enjoy it. Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it. Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital. Warning: This is also a bad time for investments, even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof. They only bring problems and worries. This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet.
- Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren, and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself. You’ve taken care of them for many years, and you’ve taught them what you could. You gave them an education, food, shelter and support. The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money
- Keep a healthy life, without great physical effort. Do moderate exercise (like walking every day), eat well and get your sleep. It’s easy to become sick, and it gets harder to remain healthy. That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs. Keep in touch with your doctor, do tests even when you’re feeling well. Stay informed.
- Always buy the best, most beautiful items for your significant other. The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner. One day one of you will miss the other, and the money will not provide any comfort then, enjoy it together.
- Don’t stress over the little things. You’ve already overcome so much in your life. You have good memories and bad ones, but the important thing is the present. Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you. Feel good in the now. Small issues will soon be forgotten.
- Regardless of age, always keep love alive. Love your partner, love life, love your family, love your neighbor and remember: “A man is not old as long as he has intelligence and affection.”
- Be proud, both inside and out. Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber, do your nails, go to the dermatologist and the dentist, keep your perfumes and creams well stocked. When you are well-maintained on the outside, it seeps in, making you feel proud and strong.
- Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age, but keep your own sense of style. There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters. You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it. It’s part of who you are.
- ALWAYS stay up-to-date. Read newspapers, watch the news. Go online and read what people are saying. Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks. You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet. Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.
- Respect the younger generation and their opinions. They may not have the same ideals as you, but they are the future, and will take the world in their direction. Give advice, not criticism, and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.
- Never use the phrase: “In my time.” Your time is now. As long as you’re alive, you are part of this time. You may have been younger, but you are still you now, having fun and enjoying life.
- Some people embrace their golden years, while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter. Spend your time with positive, cheerful people, it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.
- Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren (if you have a financial choice, that is). Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great, but we all need our privacy. They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your partner (our deepest condolences), then find a person to move in with you and help out. Even then, do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone
- Don’t abandon your hobbies. If you don’t have any, make new ones. You can travel, hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, dominoes, golf. You can paint, volunteer or just collect certain items. Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it.
- Even if you don’t feel like it, try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences. Try to go. Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old). But don’t get upset when you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.
- Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past, not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.
- Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be.
- If you’ve been offended by someone– forgive them. If you’ve offended someone- apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said: “Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Don’t take that poison. Forgive, forget and move on with your life.
- If you have a strong belief, savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration. Live your faith and set an example. Live true to your beliefs and let that memory sway them.
- Laugh. Laugh A LOT. Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So what’s not to laugh about? Find the humor in your situation.
- Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway, and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest, at peace and as happy as you can be!
AND, as Alan’s message suggests. REMEMBER: “Life is too short to drink bad wine.”