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Want to Live to be 100? Not me – No way!

What is the one headline on magazine covers, the one subject which hundreds of books are written about, the one thing that we secretly (or not so secretly) think we want more than we might ever admit?  No, it is not about knowing how to affair-proof your marriage.  Or how to look 10 pounds thinner in a bathing suit. It is more prevalent in our lives than that.  It is our desire to push aside our mortality, or as one book title puts it: Dare to Be 100.

My 8 year old cannot wait until he hits double digits (the big 1-0).  For him, that sounds SO cool.  I can relate; I’m sure at his age I felt the same.  It seemed like such a big milestone, and an exciting one at that.  So is that what the number 100 does to us adults?  If double digits are cool, are triple digits even cooler??

Or is it perhaps what 100 represents to us?  Does living to 100 mean we will have lived a nice, long life?  One with purpose and meaning (naturally) – a life filled with adventures and good times?  Hogwash, I say!  The only people who WANT to live to be 100 are the ones that have NO idea what 100 really looks like – for if they did, they would never say that.  Authors and publishers give us what we want to buy.  And apparently we buy all that we can (books, magazines, anti-aging products) as if somehow we can cheat or at least delay the inevitable aging process.

As the books and articles talk about, there are Health choices we can make along the way that can and will greatly affect how long we live and how well we age.  Family history plays a part in it too, as does our Mental Outlook.  Those factors are all important and will have a major affect on one’s “senior years” (life in one’s mid 60’s and 70’s).  But when people gets in their eighties, it all begins to change. By the time 90 rolls around, for every person who can get around without a walker and carry on a lucid conversation, there are hundreds more the very same age who cannot.

This is the part those books don’t tell you.  This is the part no one talks about much. The elephant in the room is that growing old – THAT old – is messy and often unpleasant.  It means not making it to the bathroom in time on a regular basis.  It means passing gas (often and loudly) but not being aware of it because you can’t hear well anymore.  It is not being able to button a sweater because of arthritis. Or not being able to bend over to pick something up off the floor.  It is not remembering to take your pills – or perhaps having to take pills for various conditions now for the first time in your life.  It is a body covered in age spots and wrinkles and a brain that starts to short circuit no matter how many crossword puzzles you once did.  Is this really what we are excited to sign up for?

There is always someone who says, “That may be, but my Grandma (or Mother or Aunt, etc) is doing great.”  Really? Are you sure?  Are you there to see her fumbling around to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night?  Do you notice how long it takes her to do a simple act like signing her name or getting herself up out of a chair?  Do you know what she does all those other hours of the day, or days of the week, when you are not there to visit?

In our youth obsessed world we say we want to live to be 100, but what we mean is with the quality of life of someone decades younger.  It is not a bad dream to have; it would certainly be great if we all took care of ourselves with that in mind.  But shoot for 100?  Not me. Not anymore.  I’ve seen the OTHER side of it and suffered along with those who (in their own words) have “lasted too long.”  Now I just ask to have a long, healthy life.  For this Zen Mama Wannabe has seen first hand it is not the quantity of your days, but the quality that truly counts!

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