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IN MY PLACE SA

Protecting what is most important as we age

Summary

As time passes and frailty takes hold we can lose some of the things we hold most dear. In this blog post we look at starting early to work towards protecting what is most important to us.

What are your 4 greatest values?

I was once asked during an orientation session to put my 4 greatest values on 4 Post-Its, then fold them in half.

Someone came along and took two of them, screwed them up, and put them in the bin.

To look at what we had lost, the feeling of sadness or grief was immediate.

The facilitator then explained that this is what it can be like as we age – losing some of the things most important to us.

My top values were: Freedom, Family, Health and Money.

I was left with Freedom and Money – but no Health to enjoy it and no Family to share it with.

It was a profound experiment and it remains close to the front of my mind to this day, in my life and when I am connecting with older persons and their families.

So – How can I protect my values to keep them as long as possible as I age? I have had a sense of what it is like and I want to hold on for dear life to ALL of them.

These are my thoughts:

HEALTH

The basics remain the basics although they are tweaked frequently. In disease prevention, weight management and general health the principles rarely stray from a few basics:

Eating a diet with good protein and healthy fat levels and low sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Regular exercise including both cardiovascular fitness and resistance training

Good sleep and keeping stress to a minimum

And the physio in me must add – maintaining the ability to get up off the floor, challenge our balance and focus on reaction speed and reflexes can greatly reduce our risk of falls and the restrictive and painful outcomes of these.

MONEY  

Your Health is Your Wealth’.

But there is something to be said for ‘You Wealth is Your Health’.

Despite our funded system, it costs money for preventative healthcare. Scans, blood tests, check-ups and specialist appointments can add up quickly.

If you are still slogging away at a job late in life and can’t afford to retire you will have less time for exercise and medical reviews.

And once you have retired, money is required for freedom of choice, particularly as frailty sets in – to have the choice to get care into your home and choose to stay in your own place as you age.

FREEDOM

Money and Health contribute to freedom.

I hate feeling cornered and it seriously makes me feel trapped to not have options.

Smart investments – financially and in my health – will hopefully continue to serve me to protect my freedom. Of course, we can’t control the bigger picture (we rarely can) but I’d like to keep my options as wide as possible.

FAMILY

My family mean the world to me. I hope and pray that we have lots of time together remaining.

As in all life, there are no guarantees – that our relationships remain strong, or that tragedy doesn’t part us.

Relationships with those outside of family are also important.

The book ‘Ikigai’ by Hector Garcia & Fracesc Miralles highlights the importance of connection in sustaining purpose and happiness into later life. It speaks of a concept of ‘moai’ – a Japanese term meaning a group of lifelong friends, providing social support and even pooling resources to support each other. They act as a second family.

Connection to others has also been linked to a reduction on cognitive decline. And loneliness has been found to increase risk for heart disease, stroke and even premature mortality.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

On this beautiful sunny Tuesday I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your 4 greatest values, and what you can start today to protect them.

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