AGEING is a biological function. From the moment of conception we age by seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. And there are genetic factors that may enhance or disadvantage a person.
Stating this, Mr Gerard Ee, who at 59 years of age is still active in the social sector service, denied that ageing itself was an issue, and went on to emphasise that how well we live our life when we are older was paramount to successful ageing.
He was speaking to some 140 TRAC seniors on Oct 17 at Methodist Centre on “Successful Ageing”.
Outlining four stages of human development as infancy, adulthood, old age and end-of-life issues, he advanced the thesis that successful ageing was predicated on living well in the preceding stages. It was important, he added, “that even children are made aware of the stages of life and the consequences of their decisions”.
He touched on enhanced life-expectancy and its implication for active ageing. He stated that the Council For Third Age had identified six areas – social, intellectual, physical, vocational, emotional and spiritual – for one to attend to and feel well.
Giving his reflections on these six areas, he said: “Social – whilst ideally the family should be the core of one’s relationship, it will growingly be a challenge. The one-child family means that his or her own children will have no cousins. Also, more people have been choosing to remain single. Thus, in the future, individuals will have to depend on social networks – friends to share and grow old together.”
“Intellectually – brain cells die and are replaced continuously. However, once we reach adulthood our brain cells stop replacing themselves whilst continuing to decay. Fortunately our mental capacity depends less on the brain cells and more on the connections between cells, the synapses. Connections are made by challenging the brain and that is why older Japanese engage in working out sudoku puzzles.”
“Physical – muscles will weaken unless kept in tone. It is important to adopt a regime whereby as many of one’s muscles are being used – a combination of walking, stretching and lifting of light weights will do the trick but the options are many.”
“Vocational – being engaged is important as it provides one with a compelling reason to get out of bed. Those who are well-provided for can volunteer their services while others will have to look for paying jobs. Being engaged gives one that feeling of usefulness and a purpose in life.”
“Emotional – in one’s younger days one tends to be on the go. In our later years we tend to want to share our feelings and feel needed or appreciated. Sometimes there is the temptation to dwell with regrets. At other times one looks back and assess whether it has all been worth the while.”
“Spiritual – as we approach the end of the marathon it is natural to reflect on the afterlife. As Christians we are perhaps privileged in that we have our religion to guide us. If we live in true faith we should not fear the end of life but rather be excited that we can finally return home to the Lord. If we lack faith then as we grow older we will be filled with the fear of death.”
Finally he said: “Developing in all areas is important towards achieving a sense of well-being. No point in having money but poor health. No point in having money and great health but no one to share with, and so on. Be mindful of these matters to successfully live out the remainder of one’s life. Be excited about the remaining 20 to 30 years of your life after retirement.”