What I—and Hopefully You—Can Study from My 85-12 months-Previous Aunt.


She and her canine stopped alongside the path via the chaparral. She bent over and took one thing out of her cargo pants pocket. “Is {that a} pedometer?” “Sure,” she responded. “I attempt to stroll three miles a day, between these walks and strolling round the home.”

And that tiniest of tales, my dears, is the inspiration for this weblog put up.

I’ve an 85-year-old aunt, C. Once I lived within the Bay Space, I had the luck of visiting her and her accomplice, P, a number of instances a 12 months, as they lived an affordable drive away.

These days, I reside within the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not only a matter of a two-hour drive. It’s a aircraft journey, and I’ve acquired a household to rearrange round. So, the visits are annual. And as a result of pandemic, I didn’t see C for at the very least two years.

In early December, I went right down to the Bay Space for a fast journey simply so I might see C. Whereas I’ve lengthy admired C for a wide range of causes, I used to be so favorably struck by her and her life that I made a decision the world—or at the very least the individuals who learn this weblog—wanted to listen to about it. I would like everybody to be impressed by my aunt. Or to search out inspiration within the 80+ 12 months olds of their lives.

C is 85. She misplaced her accomplice of 49 years about 7 years in the past. (Her accomplice, P, was one other girl who boggles the thoughts of this 45-year-old girl who has by no means identified a lot hardship. She was a nurse in World Struggle II and had some tales to inform about going into…Nagasaki? after the bomb was dropped. She taught sociology—after getting her masters diploma in sociology in her 40s—and was a school provost. She served as a probation officer and assistant superintendent of a juvenile corridor. Breaking gender boundaries left and proper.)

Conjure up in your thoughts what an 85-year-old girl appears to be like like. And now tear that picture to shreds as a result of it ain’t my Aunt C. Apart from the grey hair and wrinkles. 😉

The best way I perceive it, the lack of a long-term accomplice, particularly one whom you like as wholly as C beloved P, can usually usher in a smaller and smaller life for the surviving partner. Not so for C. She is thriving. (And through Covid, no much less!)

I truly took notes whereas I used to be visiting her as a result of I discovered myself repeatedly simply blown away by her intentionality round residing a wholesome, fulfilling life. She is clearly doing an excellent job, as a result of she is joyful and wholesome…and among the best conversationalists in my life. (I believe so much about what makes good dialog. I find yourself continuously whinging to my husband about how on-line communication appears to have highlighted/distilled/accelerated/inspired actually horrible dialog abilities.)

I’m not likely a “New 12 months’s Decision” form of individual, however this put up does come coincidentally throughout that point of the 12 months. I’m extra of an “intention” form of individual. “Targets” don’t do it for me. In no specific order, right here’s what I noticed my aunt deliberately incorporating into her life that has helped her construct such a phenomenal life.

What new intentions are you able to establish and begin to incorporate—in a structured, repeatable manner—into your life?


The construction in C’s life is usually due to her canine, a lot in the identical manner that we mother and father of younger kids have construction due to our youngsters’s wants. C has raised canine for many years now, though she herself stopped breeding a number of years in the past.

C should feed the canine within the morning and the night. And he or she should feed every canine their specific meals/vitamin wants. (Choosy toddler, anybody?)

Every day C takes one canine out for a stroll.

She used to (pre-pandemic) take her tamest canine to an area nursing dwelling twice every week for canine remedy.

She additionally joined a number of social teams (extra about that under) that meet regularly, so she “should” get out of the home and work together a number of instances every week.

Social Interplay/Companionship

C has advised me explicitly that she knew it was necessary for her to develop new social connections after P died. I assume she has her background in psychology (she was skilled as and labored as a psychologist) to thank for being so attuned to this want.

She had lengthy been concerned within the canine breeding group, so I’m unsure if her participation modified (elevated) or remained the identical. However after I was visiting, she did describe that about thrice every week, she acquired along with Canine Folks for one motive or one other.

She additionally joined a music group filled with… Austrians? The place sure, she will find out about music, but additionally have a completely completely different group of individuals to work together with.

She has additionally organized for a pal to textual content her each morning, and C has to textual content again to let her pal know she’s positive.

As soon as a month, a pal an hour away drives down together with her canine and all canine and people commune.

C talked about outright at one level that as a result of P crammed her emotional wants so totally, that whereas P was alive, C had no need to determine different relationships. So, after P died, C was compelled to broaden her social horizon, compelled to make new connections, and she or he is so significantly better for it. I simply marvel on the self-awareness….


For an extended whereas, my aunt’s function was caring for her accomplice, P. They had been collectively for 49 years when P died. Over the past a number of years of P’s life, she wanted loads of care. C offered it. Meals of sure meals at sure instances. Physician’s appointments. Different stuff (I don’t know lots of the particulars).

All alongside, C and P additionally had canine. A lot of ‘em. That they had bred and proven English Setters for many years. After P’s loss of life, C not had P to serve…however she nonetheless had (and has!) these canine. These canine rely on her, and C needs to be there for them.

This has additionally carried over into C’s property planning. She has explicitly organized for an additional canine pal of hers to take the canine when C dies, and C has put aside a selected pot of cash to go to this pal to assist fund the care of canine.

Bodily Exercise

My aunt has all the time been bodily energetic. She has lengthy bred and proven canine. She gardens. She used to journey horses. She has a big plot of land that she has to keep up. She chopped wooden for her fire.

As life developed, a few of these particular actions fell away. I do know she nonetheless gardens.

Whereas I used to be visiting her, every day we went for a stroll with considered one of her canine. In the future it was by the dunes on the seashore. The opposite day it was in a municipal park.

It was through the latter stroll that the “pedometer in my pocket” story that began this weblog put up occurred. She set a purpose (three miles/day). She acquired an accountability device (the pedometer). And it’s baked into her each day schedule.

[My dad, C’s brother, is also a physical fitness nut. He’s 80 years old…and a Cross-fit hound. It’s a little disconcerting to see guns on an 80 year old, but I’m sure impressed by it! Let’s hope I inherited the family’s enduring affection for physical fitness.]

Mental Stimulation/Psychological Exercise

In my opinion, C finds stimulation in two methods:

  • in an apparent vogue via watching Nice Programs DVDs about economics and physics and the like and thru studying books, and
  • in a extra refined manner via being curious about everybody and every little thing in her life. When she goes to the physician about her listening to help, she learns about how the mind processes sound! When she goes to her CPA, she learns extra about taxes! When she meets somebody in her group whereas out on a stroll, say, she takes time to find out about them. “Oh, you’ve got a PhD in oceanology? Fascinating. Oh, you grew up domestically and run a small enterprise? How fascinating.”

Particularly since changing into a monetary planner, I’ve realized how necessary curiosity is to self-discovery and discovery of others…and the way necessary it’s to easily being engaged and having enjoyable studying. Some individuals appear to do that effortlessly, and C is considered one of them. Perhaps it’s her skilled background as a psychologist. Or possibly she grew to become a psychologist as a result of she was naturally curious.

For that music group I discussed above, she has to sometimes current on a bit of music. Whereas I used to be visiting her, she was making ready for a presentation on a Mendelssohn piece: full on web analysis and making ready presentation supplies.

Consuming Wholesome

Right here’s what we ate in my first 24 hours visiting her:

  • Dinner: salmon fillet, steamed candy potatoes, hearty salad (beans and the like). She doesn’t add salt to something (which I hear is sort of doable however largely my response is: Uh, no. She fortunately had salt for me so as to add).
  • Dessert: unsweetened chocolate (she swears she likes it; she’s clearly fabricated from sterner stuff than I) and persimmon slices
  • Breakfast: espresso, metal minimize oats, berries, unsweetened almond milk, nuts
  • Lunch: We went out! To a incredible restaurant on the water that focuses on fish. We each acquired monkfish. Hers got here with a salad. (Mine got here in tacos.)
  • Afternoon snack: pink wine, unsalted peanuts in shell, uncooked fennel bulb

And that is typical for her. In truth, she eats virtually precisely this day-after-day. ‘Trigger once you’re 85 and have canine with particular vitamin wants, the very last thing you wish to do is expend a lot effort by yourself meals.

And whereas she is skinny, she eats so much! She will not be the stereotype of the little previous woman who simply picks at meals.

Her food regimen is completely #objectives.

Since my go to in December, I’ve been asking myself: How can I be extra like my Aunt C?

How can you be extra like my Aunt C? Or the older girl in your life who has clearly Bought It Figured Out?

Lastly, go hug—just about or bodily—the older girls in your life. And ask them about their lives. They’re simply…superb.

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Disclaimer: This text is offered for instructional, basic info, and illustration functions solely. Nothing contained within the materials constitutes tax recommendation, a advice for buy or sale of any safety, or funding advisory companies. I encourage you to seek the advice of a monetary planner, accountant, and/or authorized counsel for recommendation particular to your scenario. Replica of this materials is prohibited with out written permission from Meg Bartelt, and all rights are reserved. Learn the total Disclaimer.







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