Q: Some of my friends are in their 80s but feel and act as if they're still in their 50s. Others I know are still in their 50s but act as if they're 30 years older.
What gives? I want to feel as if I'm younger than I am. How can I do it?
A: Some psychologists believe that age is dependent on our attitude, health and goals. Our bodies continue to age with time, but your body isn't you. You can choose to shape your own identity, as well as how others perceive you. Don't count the years, unless there's nothing else to count. You may be getting older, but that doesn't make you an old person.
Staying youthful means focusing on being cheerful, laughing and choosing a positive attitude about life. You should prioritize learning, keeping an open mind, exercising and staying engaged with others. Get out of your ruts by reading books, finding new hobbies and being flexible and adaptable.
Many great people have continued to accomplish things into their 80s. Benjamin Franklin helped frame the Constitution at 80, and Thomas Edison was still working in his lab at 84.
I hope that in these years of your life, you are free of multiple responsibilities. Indulge yourself in your old ambitions. You can now make these dreams into opportunities.
Get rid of old baggage, both mental and material. Give, sell or donate items that you've kept in storage and not used for years. Simplify your life. Freedom from responsibilities can stimulate your imagination.
Tackle new projects. You can plant a tree or volunteer for a worthy cause. Plan ahead to avoid last-minute stresses.
Don't settle for being lonely and afraid of living. Go out there and seize the day! — Doug
WHAT TO DO FOR A GRIEVING FRIEND
Q: I have a special childhood friend whom I've been able to stay in contact with for over 60 years. Recently, I heard the news that her husband passed away. He was a wonderful man, and I know that she is grieving terribly.
My first reaction was to buy her a sympathy card, but that doesn't feel like enough. What else can I do?
A: Handwriting a letter is a wonderful way to express your loving and caring for your friend without overwhelming her during this mourning period. She is doubtlessly making many arrangements, but letters don't demand attention. She will be able to return to it and reread it in the continuing tough times.
But your instinct is right. You can do other things to supplement the letter. After losing a spouse, loneliness can be overwhelming. As her longtime friend, you can play a special role for her. The most important thing is to demonstrate that you are there for her and that she is not alone.
To that end, you have several options. Consider making a visit. You could be around to help with any arrangements or perhaps come around after the dust has settled and give her some company.
Additionally, you could send her a gift basket with some basic food items, which would help remove some of the stresses involved with dealing with a loved one's death.
Play the long game. In the immediate aftermath, she is most likely feeling a sense of shock. Even once this shock subsides, she will feel a need for human connection. You can help her with that.
Do what you've always done and be a good friend. You two are lucky to have such a long-lasting friendship. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.