How not to age - the 7 don'ts of active ageing

by Sylvia Toh Paik Choo, first published in The Straits Times, 01 Dec 2019

Relaxed, graceful or dream-like ageing? Silver seniors, here is a guide on how to age well

The secret to life, as any hack will clue you, is: Always hang and chill with folk who are much older and largely fatter than you. This will render you the youngest and slimmest of the lot.

It'll work all of two days. There's so much fetch, help, carry, lift and pay ("Since you're the youngest") that one can take for the team.

If this is active ageing, count me out.

By all accounts, here in Singapore, the words "ageing" and "active" cannot stand alone, the two have to co-exist as one, Siamese-twinned as it were.

Graceful ageing - in my own instance, disgraceful ageing - relaxed ageing, dream-like ageing, wisely ageing, no way, we are Singapore, it's gotta be active ageing.

Just thinking about the silver seniors' line-dancing Mondays, zumba Wednesdays, taiji Fridays, Excel Windows Tuesdays and Thursdays piles the years on me.

Because I do none of the above.

I once read or saw (lying down or sitting up) that we must leave our bodies well alone and not seek to bend any limb in directions not originally intended to go.

I refuse to actively age.

Here's my personal guide on how to age well, if not actively:

1. WOKE AND PISSED ABOUT IT

My millennial niece and nephew find me the coolest, hippest aunt "evah" (translation: ever). Because I can have "convo" (conversation) on any subject, almost.

I was very "woke" from a young age, growing up in a small estate of seven blocks housing multi-racial families. ("Woke" today means to be super alert to racism).

Today, I am even more "woke", the most woke I've been. The curse of active bladders visited upon the ageing, twice a night in the wee-wee hours of the morning.

Do all your drinking before 10pm is my advice.

2. TIKTOK MEE/ME

Listen, you knuckleheads, generations ago (more A B C than X Y Z), we also had TikTok. (TikTok is a global video community app for creating and sharing short performances launched in China in 2017.)

It was Chinese, it was social, it was shared and when it got real hot, we lip-sync-ed how burning the chilli was, at times with comedic results.

What we did not have was the facility for video. Our tik tok cost 30 cents a bowl.

Actively engage with all ages every chance you get. And hope they think you're interesting: "Wow, you're like older than my parents, and yet so interesting."

3. THE WHITE CONTINENT

Never wear white after you've collected your CPF and retired.

Because there's that feeling that eventually creeps up on you. When you can no longer hold it together. No more a master of your domaine (vineyard, dear). When you start to lose control.

Oh, my mind can still get the punchline of the story you just told. But my muscles have a mind of their own and I am actively wetting myself laughing.

(Shop for incontinent wear with an older person so it won't be obvious it's you who need them.)

4. SENIOR MOMENTS

Seniors make up the happiest demographics, we're led to believe. More time, joy of grandkids, opportunity to pick up new skills, chase a dream, give back to society through volunteer work.

There is the flip side. More medical, more costs, loneliness, less mobility.

Eve of the Millennium, a group of us joked how we could combine our leftover strengths - one the eyes, another the legs, you the memory, you the hearing. The joke is now a reality show.

All we need is a seven-seater and a driver.

5. LOVE IS A GAS (SECOND TIME AROUND)

A dear friend, from Malaysia, widowed quite a few years now, what are the odds, re-connected with a schoolmate via Facebook. A widower himself, he settled in New Zealand.

They met here, there is no other way to say this - sparks flew and the ecstatic couple are traversing the globe, making up for lost time. With complete blessings from their grown-up children and grandchildren. Both financially independent.

But there was just the one thing hanging in the air. You know, with old age comes excessive gas, bloating, flatulence.

Neither could bring up the niggling subject. As luck would have it, it raised itself. Both got wind of it. The air has been cleared. To quote an aunt ahead of her time, "Love me , love my…(insert what you wish here)."

When you actively age, you can hide nothing. So don't.

6. FROM BOOMER TO ZIMMER

OK Boomer.

What's it even mean, I mean, don't you X-Y-Zers know we invented just about everything worth living for? We were the teenaged rock and rollers who gave the world DNA fingerprinting, Apple II, WWW, optimism?

Google it, it's apparently all you know to do.

The Zimmer frame is a walker, a support tool to help those in need of balance and stability. Due to age-related restrictions. It first appeared in the US in the early 1950s.

You don't have to give up your seat for me. Now outta my way, shrimp.

7. THE PRIVILEGE PLUS

Of reaching the nothing-to-prove stage. You know, all those I've eaten more salt than you have rice and don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs parables. (Surely a recipe in there somewhere…)

The scary downside of these culinary grandfather stories is, some of us may have to, in time, consume all four courses in a gulp. Soup, appetiser, main, dessert, all blended into one course for easy swallowing.

Meanwhile, enjoy the myriad discounts to a plethora of dining available to active agers.

Alas, the most active of whom are the aged cleaners picking up after us.

 

This article is in partnership with ST Life.

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