We generally attach significance to and celebrate the ages that society considers to be key milestones in our lives. In Western culture we think in terms of decades so the big celebrations for adults would be on the 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th birthday and each decade thereafter. In East Asia where life cycle is linked to the 12 Zodiac signs, the important celebrations would be on each completion of the Zodiac cycle. Thus the 72nd birthday, representing six complete cycles of life, is deemed to be a more significant milestone than the 70th.
With the concept of age as a milestone we then define "retirement age" and "old age" based on the number of years we have lived. This way of thinking is no longer relevant today. People are not only living longer but also living those additional years actively and in good health. And they have new interests and challenging careers that enrich their lives. I would like to illustrate this with the story of two women in their mid-70s for whom age is just a number.
Laughing with Mary Maxwell
Mary is a mother of five and a grandmother of 12 and has been married to the same man for 50 years. She is a comedian who has entertained millions of people over the years with her quick wit and dry humor. She has spoken at major national events and her videos on YouTube have generated millions of viewers. Her brand is 'laughing with Mary'. And when she shares her unique insights on ageing and senior families, you surely will be laughing with her. She also answers questions from readers on the one website with humorous and practical advice.
Exercising with Ernestine Shepherd
Ernestine, like Mary, is a mother and grandmother and enjoys a supportive spouse. She is the world's oldest female body builder active in competition as recorded in the Guinness Book Records for 2012. She is also a personal trainer, professional model and motivational speaker. Twenty years ago, when she went out to buy a new swimsuit and was not happy with the way she looked, she decided to do something about it - she turned her life around. In her own words: "I transformed myself from an average middle-age woman with a sedentary lifestyle into the oldest competitive female body builder". She started serious training as a body builder at the age of 71. Her message to all of us is that it is never too late to be fit for life.
Both Mary and Ernestine are great examples of great healthy lifestyle, which is about having a sound body, sound mind, and sound finances plus a continued engagement with life and the world around it.