Age is more than skin deep

If you think about all the negatives we hear about ageing, or even if you just watch modern life from the sidelines, you'll probably get the feeling that it's better to be young than old, that all the worthwhile things go to the young and ageing should be avoided at all costs, even if you're paying for that avoidance with surgery, drugs and denial.
Let me say first that ageing is much more difficult than I thought it would be.  I was sailing towards my 55th birthday when I suddenly lost all my ambition to succeed in business, at 60 I started slowing down and losing strength, at 65 I couldn't hear as well as I used to and now, close to 70, I don't sleep properly, some of the foods I used to like make me feel a bit sick, and sometimes I have problems concentrating.  It's nothing drastic and it's not really anything to complain about but as a self-reliant woman who is fairly healthy and takes no prescribed medication, I want to live as I do for as long as I can and I'm disappointed that the ideas I had about ageing when I was 20 years younger don't match the reality of today.
I still have a positive view about getting older and let's face it, it's much better than the alternative - an early death. I think the key to living well when you're older is to do as much as you can for yourself, embrace change, learn new things, be in control of your own life and home, think about the life you want to live, do what you need to do to live that life, make your own decisions, rely on yourself more than you reply on others and do things you enjoy so you live with the potential for happiness every day. 

There are a few opportunities in later life that you don't get earlier. Retirement, time and the choice of how you spend it are the most valuable of those. When I was younger, right up until the time I closed my business, I was flat out all day. I'd come home, piece a meal together, sleep, get up and do it all over again. My mind and my life were focused on earning money and it wasn't until I closed my business and came back home (in every sense) that I realised a lot of the money I earned was being wasted on things I really didn't care about. I'd been brainwashed into thinking that was normal. I was buying food and products I could make myself and I was feathering the nests of supermarkets, department stores and the manufacturers of clothing, shoes, cosmetics and all sorts of junk instead of feathering my own nest.  And while I was doing that, it made sense to me. It was only when I stepped away and calmed down and I could see it for what it was.
Now I live exactly how I want to live. I make the choice on when I get up, what I'll do every day, who I invite into my life and what I'll do with each precious hour. I've had a good life and when I look back, I see I had a lot of wonderful opportunities that I grabbed with both hands, but I can't remember thinking, that for any length of time, my life was happy and fulfilling.  It was exciting, interesting, challenging and wonderful but only ever in small portions. I never had the feeling or realisation when I was young, which I have every day now, that life is good and I'm lucky to live as I do. 
Making laundry liquid. 
So for all of you who are growing older and worrying about it, just let go of that feeling and embrace what happens as you age. Sure, there'll be liver spots, fails in hearing, eyesight and memory, your skin will wrinkle - surely the most obvious of badges, and you'll stop having anything like "normal" sleep. But along with that is the time factor and the absolute freedom to choose how you spend your hours. The way Hanno and I live gives us meaningful work to do each day, it makes us confident we can look after ourselves and it reduces the cost of living for us. It keeps us interested. And when we sit and drink our tea, and look around the haven we've created for ourselves, I can't help but think that choosing to slow down, become independent and self-reliant has been the making of us.

You won't hear too many people tell you that ageing isn't as bad as it's made out, but I'm doing that. Sure, it's not as great as I thought it would be but there is tenderness and contentment now that wasn't there beforehand. Age is more than skin deep, it is more profound than wrinkles, botox and looking younger than you are. It is the sum total of your time and experience and hopefully it is defined by kindness, generosity, acceptance, love and the strength of your character, so that the essence of all those qualities will be what you're remembered by.

50 comments

  1. Hi Rhonda, I would love to email you a few questions about homemaking and organisation if you have time to read and respond! Could I please have your email? Thanks, Laura from Melbourne

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  2. Thank you for your great words.
    With love Manon

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  3. I have learnt to adapt to every day depending on what, if anything, is painful, aching or feeling okay. Sure I could do more to fill some days but if truth be told, I enjoy cooking, crocheting, reading, watching tv etc. In the summer the garden takes up more of my time and if grand-dog successfully breeds, like you, we may well be opening up a new chapter in our lives. Keep on keeping on, you are both doing grand.

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  4. OMG, dear Rhonda, I just love all your posts, but this one particularly makes me feel so good, THANK YOU ! I'm 65, mother of 4 and grandmother of 2. Worked outside my whole adult life long, but happily retired at 5 7. I never regretted it, and since then have tried to get as much self reliant as possible, YOU inspire me a lot (even if we're living océans apart) and I'm very grateful :)
    Ageing is not a problem to me - even with those slight physical issues - I've happily let my hair grow grey, I'm feeling OK with it and I think it suits my face, making it softer than those hard, unatural hair colors. As to my wrinkles : they tell my life story, and most of them are smile wrinkles :)

    Have a lovely weekend, Rhonda !

    Nadine

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  5. LOved this post! Just yesterday, we were talking to a young woman and told her we don't have to worry about any jobs and she said that she couldn't imagine not having a job. We just laughed and told her that she didn't know what she was missing. Finally being able to be your own boss, is worth the wrinkles and gray hair!

    Hugs
    Jane

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  6. Thanks for the wonderful piece of advice

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  7. I have read your blog for years but have never commented because until recently I could not figure out how to comment...guess that is a hint as to my age group haha. thank you so much for this uplifting post. I am so in dread of the day when you quit blogging. I will be lost. I look every day to see if you have added a new post.

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  8. This is fabulous. Thanks for your wise words.

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  9. I so needed to read this post today. Thank-you.
    I'm not where I thought I'd be at this stage of my life. But, I'm ok. Even thriving some days. I'm coming up to six years divorced. When I was younger, I envisioned that my marriage would be sustainable. So, I am alone but realized lately that I am not lonely. My work in the next year is to think of what I want to do and be in this next chapter in my life. This thought process started on my last birthday when I turned 60. I'm entering another decade and need to set some new goals.
    On the upside, my dear friend who will be 85 this year called on my birthday. One of her pearls of wisdom on my birthday was that I "had now lived long enough to be interesting". Her loving comment still brings a smile to my face.
    Thank-you so much for the time and effort you put into sharing your thoughts. SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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  10. Wonderful words. I am also surprised about how the "golden years" are not so golden. In some ways they are difficult, but you are right, we do have the clarity to understand life is what we make of it and that there is no time like the present to begin living for ourselves, in a way that uses less yet has more enjoyment!

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  11. Thank you for writing so beautifully about getting older. My 70th birthday is coming up in five weeks and I am feeling more relaxed about life than I ever did when I was 'young'.
    I firmly believe that happiness in the home you create is the most rewarding kind. Please keep writing about your life in just the way you did today and I shall keep reading it until I can no longer do so. xx

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  12. Oh, so beautiful Rhonda! Thank you.

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  13. Good morning Rhonda, beautifully written, you know, yours is the first blog I go to everyday. I am turning 50 this year, and I have been asked many times, am I having a big party? I'm not going to have a party or anything flash. I tell my family and friends, it's just another day, another day that I am grateful for and my goal is to have really good health both in body and mind as I get older. I think I am doing okay, keeping active in my home and at work, I am never bored or looking for something to do. I really can't wait until I retire (another 15 years) until I can do everything I love doing, all day long. Thanks for another lovely post. Have a great day.
    Fi

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  14. This community you've created of so many like minded people Rhonda, is a blessing to us all. Your writing certainly resonates with me and soothes the soul. It's where I always turn for wisdom and inspiration. Although I live very differently to a lot of people in my local community I never feel alone as I'm part of a growing movement to grow older gracefully and philosophically practising mindful simplicity and embracing a frugal lifestyle to be easier on myself and the planet. Bless!

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  15. Thank you Rhonda for the beautifully written post. At 61 years, I agree with it wholeheartedly. The important thing to remember is we all have our own journey! I appreciate your great messages!
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Jane

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  16. I've come to believe the "secret" to ageing well is to stay active, engaged and involved in life, people and the world. We have a neighbour well into her nineties, she is up to date on all the current news both international and local, she hosts fundraising events at her home to raise money for breast cancer in our local area, she still cooks for herself, she still drives (although on a restricted licence these days) and she still gardens every day! She has sure taught me a thing or two about living every day to the full, and I'm only 45!

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  17. Thanks for this post Ronda. We also like being retired and being old doesn't worry us. We have many memories to look back on and living in our caravan as we do has given us the opportunity to make more memories, meet new people, listen to their stories or to just be on our own. It is our choice where we live each day/week/month, as I say, I have holidays homes all over the country....hehe. We are truly blessed.

    I let my hair go its natural colour...grey.... but after a few years I just didn't like it, I felt it made me look washed out so I have gone back to dying it and I feel better which is all that matters.

    The only thing I don't like about getting older is that we get nearer to the finish line!

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  18. What a wonderful read for a Monday morning. At the moment I work 15 hours per week. My husband is retired. We already enjoy our free days together doing simple things such as tea/coffee on the front verandah or the back deck. With chair cushions I might add. Looking forward to more.

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  19. Rhonda, this is your best post yet on the subject of aging. I will be 70 in May, and, truthfully, I have found 69 to be a bit of a shock health-wise. There has been a definite slowing down. Thank you for your ongoing discussion on how you are making needed changes. I'm so glad that you have continued your blog.

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  20. I think back to my Nan who was born in 1889 (I'm a youngest child of her youngest child) and reflect in awe of all that she achieved in old age. After the second world war she invited all her married children to live back home with her (1 by 1) as she saw the economy flourishing and demanded that they both go out to work and save for a house (most folk rented back then) and her contribution was to cook, sew, wash, keep house, offer free accommodation whilst her children saved every penny. Gosh she could stretch a penny till it screamed. She only started doing this at 50 yrs old (my mum would have been 7 years old and she had 8 older siblings. Nan also was a qualified tailoress, so the whole family, whilst not wealthy, were all beautifully dressed from remade secondhand garments that she totally re-tailored. She used to allocate a shilling to Pop for petrol for the car and when it ran out, you walked. She continued this right up till her late 60's. I think of this woman every day and try and remember all that she told me about frugality and bettering one's life through enterprise and thrift.

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  21. This is such a delightful post and I found myself smiling, chuckling and saying a few Amens! In 3 weeks I will celebrate my 76th birthday and I really find that hard to believe. Do I wish that my muscles and joints didn't hurt, do I wish that my eyesight was better, and how hard it is to remember certain words, all a part of the blessing of growing older. Tomorrow we will attend the funeral of one of our dear friends, and we will celebrate the happy and loving person that she was. The physical difficulties aside, I enjoy the wisdom and acceptance and joy that old age is bringing to us. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

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  22. Hi Rhonda,
    I've been a fan of your blog for the last 5 years and just wanted to thank you for your wise words and guidance. It's been a refuge and a guidepost to how we want to live our lives, an inspiration and antidote to the craziness around us. We're now leaving our stressful jobs and starting in new directions in our early 40's, having worked hard to reduce expenses to a manageable level and saved enough to smooth the way. Your kind words about being true to yourself and choosing your own path made me feel like I had permission to make new choices, and I've brought my husband along for the ride. We're both very excited!
    Thanks and cheers from Canada,
    Melanie

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  23. I do love all of your posts Rhonda but this one really seemed to speak to me, thank you again. I retired a year ago and love being in my home. I find your words encouraging and I enjoy the challenge of stretching my $$. I am doing fine with my budget and I am very content with less stuff.

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  24. This is a lovely post. I found myself saying to my older sister, the other day 'Oh to be 8O again' (I am 86) but as she pointed out, we are both above ground, both living alone and still independent to a large degree. When I read the post, I realised that you will be alright. All the things you advise are mostly the way to go and the way I live. I still feel about 32 inside but with a lot more sense now. Always speak kindly and never be judgmental, take a great interest in every one of your family and friends and try not to speak of your own blips. You will be fine.

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  25. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post today Rhonda .... your timing could not have been more perfect!!! Thank You :-) I so enjoy your wise words.

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  26. I think you write such wise and thoughtful posts Rhonda! I totally agree with how as you get older you change in what you can do. It takes me ages to do things I would whizz through when I was younger and sometimes it does get me down. I am lucky my husband does help me when he can. I think we will have to work more as a team when we are both retired this year. I will be 65 years in April and my husband will be 70 years in May.

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  27. Rhonda I can relate to all that you are saying and one of my biggest challenges is keeping weight under control which has never been an issue for me. However cooking everything from scratch and not attending lots of work functions certainly helps. Enjoyed your post, Pauline

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  28. Thank you for a wonderful wise post. I am in my sixties with a few health issues. When I sometimes complain to my husband that "growing old is not for wimps" he just says don't concentrate on what you can't do just concentrate on what you can do. I guess he's wise too!

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  29. deep wisdom in those words & i hope i age as well as you do, at the moment i'm not enjoying aging, too many things i can't do anymore but i will certainly try to relax more into it & see what happens.
    thanx for sharing

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  30. It saddens me in many ways as you talk of ageing. Due to cronic illness, my body is not that of a 45 year old, but more like that of my mother at 80. Little sleep, consentration, eyesight, stiffness, memory, muscle and joit pain, you name it. Goodness knows how I will be when (if) I reach 80. I try and take each day for what it is, trying to be grateful for being here atall. Your lovely blog has given me a lot of inspiration. Life seldom turns out the way we think. It can be age, illness or an accident that sets us back. I believe however, that life still has a lot of loveliness in it, if we have the right perspective. Pam

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  31. I am getting older (67)and I hear what you are saying -- my daughter even told me the other day that I was getting old because my viewpoints are rooted in a different decade. However, I am taking it as it comes and I have learned one thing in all these years -- be true to myself. That means being honest with myself and those around me. It means being kind and gentle when saying "no". It means realizing that each day is a new "thing" at 67 -- I wake up just thankful for the day and all that it holds. I have to say that since I have given up the drives and desires that society puts on us when we are younger, I have become a much happier person.

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  32. Dear Rhonda... just wanted to say your picture is glorious... you look so happy and content... I agree with your observations aging isn't for 'sissies' (I'm 75) I think all the material stuff that made us 'happy' when we were young somehow has lost its appeal... its important to have reasonable good health and even more important to have a loving family who at least understand some of our struggles. Keep doing what you're doing..I enjoy every post..lovely Rhonda.

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  33. First of all, BEAUTIFUL new picture of you on the side bar. You look refreshed and lovely. This is a great post. It really hit home with me. I am 62 now. I have a mentor who is 77. She said she did not really come to full terms with herself and life until she hit 60. I am realizing more and more each day what she meant. Also, I enjoy retirement and love the freedom to do as I please and choose my life carefully instead of running to and fro in a tither all the time as I did when I had to work outside my home. Back then it seemed as though I never had time to slow down and make quality decisions - they were always snap decisions made on the run. I appreciate the slowness of this time. Many people complain about growing older, not me. I read something once that pretty much sums it up for me - "Do not complain about growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." (I don't know why but I always think about Princess Di when I hear this.) Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing what many of us believe and are feeling (in our bones) ha!

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  34. One of the most beautiful people I've ever was my nan. Se was 65 when I was born and lived until I was 37. She live a simple life, never wore make-up or coulored her hair and she hade lots of wrinkels.
    My mum died too young and I always think...I'd rather be old and that it shows that I have lived...
    Thank you for a wonderful post Rhonda!
    /Malin, SW Sweden

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  35. My husband has been spending lots of time lately with his parents as his mother is now in hospice care and not doing well. They live 4 hours away so I am home alone. I am learning to do things that I usually take for granted like building a fire in the fireplace, taking out the garbage and so on. Although I am only 57, it is not as difficult as I feared. It is giving me confidence that I can take on things when my husband can't do as much as he ages. My parents are being great role models for us- they traveled a lot in their 50s and 60s and now in their late 70s they take very good care of each other and still manage to babysit for great grandkids.
    Thanks for the words of wisdom

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  36. You are a wise woman! Thank you for sharing that wisdom with us. At 66, I've learned to treasure this time of life. I enjoy your posts and look forward to each new one. Kind regards, Pat

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  37. Thank you SO much for writing such a lovely, positive post on aging! We all need much more of this type of information, particularly women. Bless you for being so honest!

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  38. Diana NicholsonMarch 08, 2017 3:50 am

    Thank you Rhonda - wise words.

    I always say that growing older is much better than the alternative, even though the knees creak a bit more now, and threading a needle has become much more difficult!

    A friend of ours died in a motorcycle accident at 32 years old. He's never going to grow old, which in itself is sad...but he's never going to experience many of the things we have since then. He had no children, he wasn't married, but in a serious relationship that was leading towards it.

    I used to wish youth never had to end, but as I start knocking on the door of 50 I am appreciating my life much more than I think I ever did.

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  39. for me to be young again no thank you. I love being a Grandma, I love that I can still do most things I could do in my 20's just a little slower and things I could do in my 20's I don't want to do now anyway. The older I get the more I come into my own and the happier I am.

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  40. As Bette Davis famously said "old age is no place for sissies". She was right. Lots of unexpected and un-imagined changes that require fortitude. But....

    As my Mom not so famously said " you are only ever going to be as happy as you make up your mind to be". Attitude and gratitude certainly makes the road easier to travel.

    My old age started earlier than I expected and certainly is not anything like I expected it would be but it seems that I am still happy. I really like each day or part of each day. And come to think of it - liking each day or part of each day was pretty much the rule as well when I was young and middle aged.

    SunnyMidnight

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  41. "The Golden Age" sometimes isn't as golden as people were hoping for. But a person just needs to live one day at a time.

    I just want to thank you for writing your blog and your books. They are so very inspirational. My dear husband and I are retired, but doing volunteer work at a local food bank, our Church and the public library. Being debt free is such a wonderful feeling. Thanks again.
    Barbara

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  42. Very sweet and thoughtful post, Rhonda...I love your attitude and always your pictures of your everyday life. God Bless.

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  43. Dear Rhonda, I very much like what you tell us in your posts and even more I like how you live your daily life. Your blog makes me looking forward happily to retirement. At the moment - I'm nearly 56 and working full time as a teacher and vice headmaster of our school - I'm so tired of it all. My job doesn't let me time to do all the interesting things I want to do before getting too old. So everyday I'm thinking about finding a solution to this problem. I'm too young to stop working and too old to work all the day. Your blog gives me hope that someday I will find a solution that will fit my goal. I started baking my own sourdough bread two times a week in late 2015 and that's a really fine thing because there are not many things that are more rewarding than that. I often give parts of my bread to friends and relatives and I taught baking bread to them too. I am my own dishwasher because I like to have really clean plates and so on. And it makes me content to see what a large mountain of dishes has vanished after the washing up. Maybe it sounds weird but I'm really proud of that. I cook a lot of different soups in glasses so that we can eat them the following weeks and months. I make greeting cards on my own and so on. And these simple jobs make me really happy. But together with my fulltime job that's to much. So I read your blog and every new post and dream of a future with enough time to do all these simple jobs and more of them without bringing only more stress to my life. I hope you understand what I mean because sometimes my English isn't good enough to express exactly what I mean. Love from the other side of the world / Germany Bye Tina

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  44. Another wise and wonderful post.
    Kind regards

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  45. I have been reading your posts for a long time Rhonda but haven't commented before but just had to thank you for your thoughts on ageing. I will be 69 in May and retired at 60 to help my daughter through cancer and to look after my Mum who had a stroke. That same year my Mum died and the next year I had breast cancer. Thankfully my daughter and myself are both fine now but it was some time before I really felt I had retired and could enjoy it, I am now grateful for very day and mostly being able to choose how I live and how to spend my time. Even though I am slower than I used to be - and I was never that fast having mobility problems due to polio as a child, I have learnt to appreciate what I can still do, including being with my husband, children and grandchildren and spending more time knitting, sewing, reading and most of all living in the moment and finding the beauty in it, whatever the circumstances . Thank you for your kind and wise words.

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  46. You're such an inspiration. It is so good to see someone at their old age becoming so independent and living in their own freedom. I hope I'll be one. Btw, i'm just 23.

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  47. Thank you for this beautiful and wise post. It is so helpful to hear about aging in a positive and real way. I've been reading your blog for approximately 7 years and your posts are always so inspiring and encouraging. I just turned 51 and hope I will be blessed with many more years to live as you and Hanno do someday when I retire. - Suzanne in Pennsylvania

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  48. Rhonda, this is just lovely. I'm only 55 and currently on "sabbatical" (I'm self employed and don't have any active clients at the moment). I find myself more and more content by "life" as you say, by each day. My parents are 90 and 92 and in reasonable health, taking care of their dog, gardening, walking. You and they are an inspiration.

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  49. Rhonda, I find myself thinking about age almost constantly because of my Mom's situation and often wonder if I will age the same way that she has. Variables like dementia make the best strategies for ageing seem irrelevant. I guess that is where you make up your mind to do what you can as you age and pursue your life with vigor and try not to let the things you can't control overwhelm you. We will be moving my Mom to memory care sometime this week or next. I spent time at her new apartment today and felt very sad. She tilts between acceptance and anger at these changes, which is hard to witness, and it feels wrong to assign her to a group and place that is narrow when she has always been (and to me, still is) so much more. Beth in MN

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