OtherSide50How old is “old”? One adage says it’s 10 years older than whatever age you are. That may be true, but one thing for certain is we’re all getting older.

With each birthday our bodies creak more noticeably or we do a 5K a little more slowly or we forget more often why we went into the next room.

Whether you’re 50 or 60 or 101, things happen that you haven’t faced or even thought about before.

According to research, how you perceive aging affects how long you will live. A study that followed 660 people for 23 years showed those with positive perceptions of their own aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with negative perceptions. This effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income level, loneliness and health status were controlled.

What’s so great about aging? Good question. Our society prizes youth and beauty above all. Messages about aging usually emphasize the negative aspects.

But, like fine wine, people should get better as they age. Experience combined with maturity gives people greater insight. Older people are more in touch with spirituality and know how to set meaningful priorities.

A simple, healthy lifestyle can help maintain energy and good health for many, many years.

Marketing strategists are burning the midnight oil to come up with a word other than “senior” to call those over 60. That word is said to instill fear in the minds of baby boomers, conjuring up white-haired, slow-driving folks looking for an early dinner with a discount.

However far from the truth those images may be since the advent of hair dye and Corvettes, we know that the economics and health status of the baby boomer generation will either delay retirement or seriously alter what it looks like.

“Rewired not Retired,” a seminar recently offered at Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks, challenges us to live life with a purpose. If you’re the victim of a layoff or you took that early retirement plan, think about what you want to be and how you want to use your life.

“The Other Side of Fifty,” a new column for the Acorn, is devoted to positive aging. Topics may include brain fitness, lifelong learning, setting personal goals, nutrition, lifestyle versus genetics, adapting to aging changes, innovative housing options, leisure with a purpose, sharing your wisdom and leaving a legacy. The column will give answers to common questions, challenge you to consider new possibilities and direct you to local resources.

This column is provided by Senior Concerns in Thousand Oaks, a nonprofit agency serving Ventura and West Los Angeles counties.

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