Most of my patients are in their late eighties, nineties, and I have one patient who is 101 years old. Some of these patients lived full, healthy lives. How did they age so well? Here are some helpful tips on how to age well and live longer:
- Strong family support. I love it when my patients have tons of pictures on their walls. People who have strong family support live longer and healthier.
- Positive attitude. I have one patient who is 94-years-old. She has severe restless leg syndrome. I told her that I’ve experienced restless leg syndrome and that it’s terrible. But she said, “There can be worse things. There’s nothing that I can’t handle.” Wow! What a positive attitude! She chose to reflect strength and perseverance instead of self-pity and negativity. I am so impressed by her!
- Perseverance. People who search for their own answers persevere. They are strong advocates for themselves.
- Help people. Some of my dying patients wished that they would have helped people more. Helping others fosters a sense of purpose in life, and this can help us live longer.
- Exercise (mainly walk, lift weights, and stretch).
- Put lotion on your feet every night. As we age, our feet become dryer. I had one patient who was in his late eighties, but his feet looked like they were in their thirties. He was a professor and a pastor, and he put lotion on his feet every night. Also, our feet have very important reflexology points. So there’s a double benefit to putting lotion on your feet.
- Drink a lot of water. As we age, we become less thirsty but our need for hydration increases.
- Eat well and take vitamins. I have one patient who is 87-years-old, and he took vitamins and herbal medicines his whole life. He told me that he thinks they kept him going all these years.
- Play an instrument. A lot of my patients who lived a long life played an instrument.
- Do crossword puzzles or games to stimulate your brain.
- Do art or crafts. Creativity creates new brain cells.
- “Go with the flow.” My patient who is 101-years-old goes with the flow. She is patient with life.
- Share your feelings with someone that you trust. Tension creates high blood pressure and stress. Stress is the leading cause of disease (“dis-ease”). Expressing your feelings relieves tension.
- Have a sense of humor. Some of my patients laugh at life. They do not take life seriously. Having a sense of humor adds playfulness to life. Playing can help us age well.
- Most people who live longer have a religion and a faith-based community. I think it’s the community that sustains us. Most of my patients believe in God.
- Pray or meditate. It is important to trust yourself and trust the divine.
- See life as an adventure. Make sure that you do all that you want to do in your life. Then when your life comes to an end, you will be ready.
Gina M. Gafford is a Certified Massage Therapist (specializing in Hospice Massage), Registered Yoga Teacher, and Amateur Photographer. Gina has her master’s degree in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine University.
Death is the ultimate surrender to the unknown. People go inward for their final journey just like the caterpillar. The caterpillar prepares itself for transformation without knowing the outcome. We, too, prepare for the unknown, and yet, just like the caterpillar come out with wings…angel wings. – Gina M. Gafford
Because you are alive, everything is possible. – Thich Nhat Hanh
There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine.
The symbolic “3” is seen in the trinity, mathematics, and the “33 degrees.” Thirty-three is also the numeric equivalent of the word AMEN. Jesus died at the age 33. Some people say that the “33” symbolizes the highest spiritual consciousness attainable by the human being. The United Nations flag has a world globe divided into 33 sections, encircled by olive branches. There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine (see the image above).
The number “8” is symbolic for eternity and infinity. The mathematical symbol for infinity is an “8” on its side. It also symbolizes harmony and balance. The word “rainbow” sums to the Number 800 which also is the value of the Greek words “Lord” and “Faith.” The octave is the Eighth Note that begins the musical cycle anew on a higher level.
Our master teachers around the world tell us that our human birth is rare and precious. It is vital that we do not waste our human existence. We have an opportunity to open our hearts and our eyes to the truth. It is an honor to be here. The photo above of Lord Shiva holds some of the keys to life. Study the image. Understand the symbolism. Use your intuition (3rd eye).
My recent exploration is working with my third eye. Every night I rub essential oils on my third eye point (the middle of my forehead). I want to open my third eye.
I am following my intuition. I even connect with material things on an intuitive level. As a hospice massage therapist, sometimes I have room in my schedule to see one more patient at the end of the day. When this happens, I say to myself, “I will use my intuition.” Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away. So I put the decision into my car. The car will lead me intuitively to see a patient or not.
My vibration connects with material things. My car becomes an extension of me. Anything that I touch, I can connect with on an energetic level. As a massage therapist, I wash my hands a lot. When the water touches my hands, I ask the water to bless my hands. Water is alive.
I CONNECT WITH EVERYTHING!
I am connected to you – my dear reader. I am sending you loving energy to make you feel alive.
My third eye is opening! Sometimes I envision a beam of white light coming out of my third eye. I can feel myself changing every day. The third eye is the key to life. The third eye lets you see what your physical eyes do not allow you to see.
When the third eye opens, a whole new reality presents itself. I understand so much more about life. Like steps on a ladder, I gain higher and higher consciousness.
OM SHANTI OM
My 86-year-old hospice patient said she’s an old bird who can’t fly very well. I told her soon she will get new wings.
Thoughts are energy. I’ve noticed my thoughts a lot more lately. As a spiritual being, I know that my thoughts shape my life. Thoughts create my reality, and affect people too; especially my family, friends, co-workers, and patients.
During my work as a hospice massage therapist, I am aware of my thoughts when I work with my patients. I try to stay in the present moment and keep my thoughts positive. If my mind wanders too much, then I silently repeat the universal sound, Om. In my blog post, “The Magic of Om,” explains the importance of Om. It mentions that chanting Om increases synchronicity of particular biorhythms in the brain. My mind doesn’t wander when I chant Om, and I feel connected to the divine. Also, Om opens the third eye chakra to increase intuition and wisdom.
I work with the dying, so my thoughts are important. My patients have limited time in their body, and I am present to offer comfort and sacred space. It’s not the time to think about my schedule for the day or what I’m going to do in the evening. Also, I need to be aware of agitation or negative thoughts.
Sometimes my mind gets anxious, and I want to leave a patient’s room. It is challenging to work with people who are dying. There are a lot of emotions, and the energy in the room can be like pea soup. My most challenging times are when my patient has a lot of visitors. Many times I am the only professional in the room, so they look to me for support and comfort, and this can be stressful. Sometimes I say a short prayer before I enter my patient’s room. Silently repeating Om helps too.
So, if I am going to be the best person that I can be, I need to watch my thoughts. No one is perfect. We are human beings gifted with a full spectrum of thoughts and emotions. The rainbow doesn’t have just one color. As humans, we are colorful too. And we can use our colors to promote positive, loving, and beneficial thoughts towards ourselves and others.
Check out my new article, “Yoga: A Sacred Practice,” in The Edge Magazine in print and online:
May my hands be full of skill.
May my heart be full of compassion.
May my head be full of wisdom.