On turning 90

by | Elderhood, Retirement

My mum has recently turned 90, she is now old-old. She is still living independently with the help of carers who come and help. This is as much for conversation and companionship; her husband and 2 long term relationships have all died and she feels lonely.

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In the last chapter of my forthcoming book – Rethink Retirement, I ask the reader to reflect on what life will be like for them, aged 90. We can look 10 years ahead, but 25, or more?

Assuming that you are currently in good health and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you could potentially enjoy an active and fulfilling life at 90. However, it’s also possible that you may face health challenges that come with ageing.

From now it is important to prioritise our physical and mental health and to remain active to maximize our quality of life as we age. We also need to work on maintaining relationships across generations. It’s not much fun when all your friends were around your age and they are no longer around.

Looking forward to 90

How do you think you will be especially in your health, relationships and how meaningful your life is. What stands out for you as you look back on your life?

At 90 years old, you will probably have retired from your career and have more time to pursue your hobbies and interests. You may also have more time to spend with your loved ones, including children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Your social circle may have changed over time, but it’s important to stay connected with friends and family for a sense of community and support. Having friends across the ages is important rather than focusing on people close to our age.

You may like to journal your answer to this question.

How can we remain healthy at age 90

 Staying healthy at age 90 requires taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional well-being throughout our life. Our life will be so much harder without good health so here are some steps you can take at age 50, 60 and beyond to increase your chances of remaining healthy as you age. I’ve added my comments against each one; you may like to do the same. This can then help to develop an action plan.

Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help us maintain a healthy weight, reduce our risk of chronic diseases, and provide us with the necessary nutrients to support our body as we age. I’ve added more veggies and seeds to my diet after having my gut microbiome measured.

Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can help maintain our strength, flexibility, and balance as we age. It can also reduce our risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. I do strength training at the gym 3 times a week and swim twice, alongside physical work at our wood.

Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Getting enough restorative sleep each night can improve our memory, mood, and overall quality of life. Umm, I seem fine on 6 hours a night, I sleep soundly and wake up alert. Still not sure how to get myself to sleep more.

Stay socially connected: Maintaining social connections can help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Having friends across the ages is important rather than focusing on people close to our age. I have older and younger friends and I make sure to see them regularly.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can have negative effects on our health, so it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as through mindfulness, exercise, or talking with friends or a mental health professional. For me both swimming and time out in nature help me to manage stress. However, I also eat too much sweet stuff which helps in the short term but I want to eat less of this type of food.

Stay mentally active: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, playing games, or learning new skills can help keep our mind sharp and may reduce our risk of cognitive decline. With my doctoral studies, writing books and articles I have this covered.

Staying socially connected

Relationships are important for our overall well-being. At 90 we may not be physically active, like my mum. So here are some ways to stay socially connected:

Join a social group: There are many social groups that cater to various interests such as book clubs, cooking classes, or art workshops. Joining a group that aligns with your interests is a great way to meet like-minded individuals and stay connected. Alas my mum couldn’t get out to any now, but she could at 85.

Volunteer: Volunteering at a local organization or charity is a great way to connect with people who share your values and interests. It’s also a way to give back to the community and make a positive impact. I don’t think this would suit my mum at 90 as she uses a ‘walker’ to get about.

Attend community events: Many communities host events such as fairs, festivals, or concerts. Attending these events is a way to meet new people and connect with members of your community. My mum takes advantage of some of the events where she lives (an over 55s complex) and through her local church; she could do more.

Connect with family and friends: Staying in touch with family and friends is important for maintaining social connections. Even if you are not physically active, you can still connect with loved ones through phone calls, video chats, or social media. With a 250-mile round trip I don’t see my mum as often as she would like but we do use facetime so we can see each other.

Take a class: Many community centres or colleges offer classes in various subjects such as art, history, or fitness. Taking a class is a way to learn something new and connect with other students who share your interests. Alas my mum couldn’t get out to any now, but she could at 85.

It’s worth getting plans in place now, that we can continue with as we get old. It may be that once we have strong bonds that people would be happy to come and collect us.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this; feel free to comment below, or drop me a private message if it is more personal.

Dr Denise Taylor is a Chartered Psychologist and Vision Quest Guide, specialising in retirement transitions and elderhood. Regularly featured in the media, she is the author of 8 books including Find Work at 50+ and Now You’ve Been Shortlisted.

My next book – Rethink Retirement will be published later this year

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Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.