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Tip of the Week

Putting Together Your Successful Aging Team

By Sharkie Zartmam         

A while back I went to a restaurant that was known as having the best, fresh lobster in town.  I love lobster, and don't order it often because as you know, it's very expensive. But this lobster was over the top fresh.  You could see the big pot where the lobsters were being boiled alive.  I was horrified as I watched these crustaceans scrambling about in the deep bubbling water, and when one of the brave ones tried to climb out of the pot, the other lobsters would reach up with their claws and pull the poor guy back into the pot.
They had my total attention as I found myself rooting for the lobsters trying to escape.  None of them made it.  Needless to say, I didn't order lobster that night.  Not only did it get me thinking about how cruel we are to some of earth's creatures, but it also reminded my how some people tend to pull others down to their levels. These people don't want others to succeed, especially if they can't or won't even try.

The reason I mention the lobster pot is because, unfortunately, Americans tend to have a fatalistic, negative view about aging.  Our society tends to view the aging population as not having a productive role in society, is undeserving of respect, and that declining health is a certainty.  I don't know about you, but I want OUT OF THE POT!  I also need to find others who want out with me.

So, it's time to start putting together our teams.  If you were an athlete in the past, you most likely were chosen for a team based on your skills and previous success in the sport.  But putting together a support team is different as we age.  We get to choose our own teams.  One of the best insights I ever got when I was frustrated and disappointed with some of the people in my life was from my husband.  He told me to "Limit your relationships to what you have in common."  I consider this to be great advice!

Here are four tips on how to build your own support system for successful aging and get OUT OF THE POT.  

  1. You Must Be "All In."
    In order to build a team, you must care deeply about your quality of life and make your health a priority.  Also, it's time to stop beating yourself up and realize how amazing you really are because if you want to be on a great team, you must be a great teammate.

  2. Evaluate Your Current Relationships.
    Your family, friends and colleagues are currently the people on your team.  Take an honest look at these people and ask yourself if they are like the lobsters in the pot pulling you back into the boiling water or are they trying to climb out with you?  Also cherish your supportive relationships and crowd out the negative ones by finding some new teammates.

  3. Where to Find New Teammates.
    This is where we need to get bold.  We are not magnets, so we must get out there and recruit, and the first place to start is in our community.  There are many organizations, clubs, and centers that have activities for seniors including exercise classes, games, activities, and dances.  There are even some that organize excursions and cruises. I remember once on an Alaskan cruise, there was a vivacious group of seniors who literally rocked the boat with energy and fun.  They made all the other groups and couples seem old. Also, you can find some cool virtual teammates online by searching out common interests.  

  4. Do You Need To Fire Your Doctor?
    Your medical doctors and practitioners are also members of your team and you should be able to choose them if possible. Besides being excellent at their jobs, they also need to be someone you can talk to about your concerns and answer your questions.  Any doctor who blows you off because of your age should be fired.

Remember that there is strength in numbers and we need to be a part of a supportive group if we want to live an optimal life at any age. Let's be in thriving mode and a member of an awesome team to play the toughest sport we'll ever play, The Aging Game! 

Sharkie Zartman, MA is a college professor, a former All-American volleyball athlete and award winning volleyball coach.  She hosts "Sharkie's PEP Talk" on Healthy Life radio, is a certified health coach and is the author of five books, including "Take on Aging as a Sport."  She helps people take an empowered approach to life and aging so they can have optimal health and success at any age.  Permission granted for use on     

Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Eat Less-Move More, Health, Tips, Values
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