The premise of “The Triumphant Elder” is that men and women over 60 can live vigorous lives unafflicted by the common diseases of aging like hypertension, heart disease/stroke, cancer, kidney disease and cognitive decline. Furthermore, the triumphant elder is one who is independent, living on their own and pursuing life with zest and enthusiasm.
The diseases above are mostly lifestyle maladies and can often be reversed or prevented. This column is a call and manifesto to you who aspire to live triumphantly, to you who want to put the gold in the golden years. That gold is the investment your life has deposited within you by decades of hard-won experience.
The greatest legacy we can give our children and grandchildren is not our money and property, but our health, our wisdom, our love and affection. Indeed, the bequest of our lucid, vibrant presence is our most precious gift to the future.
Reversing disease to reassert our claim on health is challenging, but it can be done. Decrepitude is a choice. The adventure of reclaiming our vigor is not found in a pill or a procedure. It is found in our daily habits of eating clean, whole foods cooked with love and intention. It is in the way we move our bodies every day, the sweat that cleanses our tissues and the way that movement stimulates our organs and glands to metabolize waste to refresh the deep tissues of the viscera. It is found in moments of deep meditative silence each day to cultivate clarity of mind and regeneration of the brain. It is found in our desire to matter in a world where we are supposed to have “retired.”
As you may have already found out, our economic model includes an unhealthy measure of ageism. Get to a certain age and you may be quietly assigned to the ranks of the ineligible for meaningful work just when you have the most to contribute. It’s a time when we might feel obsolete. I know many of us struggle with this insidious injustice.
But the flip side of this is the liberty to transform ourselves into who we’ve always wanted to be in the first place with nothing to lose. And this new enterprise begins with a hearty, red-blooded determination to realign our lives with all that fortifies us as we assert who we want to be at this pivotal time in our lives.
Being a triumphant elder can take many shapes. The beauty is that you get to choose your own adventure.
As I have in these first few columns, I will be presenting ideas that may at first seem a bit unusual. Each month I’ll offer something of a blend of cutting edge health information within the context of the ancient, tried and true health practices that have carried the human species to this auspicious moment.
This can be our finest chapter. The future is waiting to be written by the distilled vintage wisdom of the triumphant elder.
Tim Keim is an IAYT certified yoga therapist, and has been teaching yoga for 15 years. Keim can be heard Saturday and Sunday mornings from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on 91.5-FM, WUNC. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.