Hermine Saunders: Spend time staying connected for healthy aging

Recently I was in line in the grocery store in front of an older gentleman who only had a few items in his cart. When I said I should let him go ahead of me, he answered that it's only time with nothing better to do with it. And I thought about our use of this all-important asset that is almost as precious as good health, since as we age there are fewer years ahead than in the past.

How we spend our time says much about what we value. With the use of "spend" and "value," "time" becomes linked with money and possessions. In fact, haven't we been taught that "time is money"? Valuing other people and spending time with them can be another demonstration of what's important as we age.


In a recent issue of Consumer Reports On Health, the front-page article details "5 good things about aging," with number four the growing satisfaction with social relationships. The article boldly claims that "social connectedness helps seniors stay healthy." The segment indicates, too, that volunteering to help others, another kind of social connectedness, brings cognitive health benefits, based on a study of 1,000 subjects in a retirement community.

Retirement communities certainly do spawn social connectedness and that, in turn, fosters concern and help for others as well as generating many healthy activities and social events that stimulate seniors' minds and bodies.

Since retiring, I find that one of my greatest joys is spending more valuable time with people who mean the most to me. I like having breakfast or lunch once a month with my brother, rather than the occasional dinner or family affair. Meeting good friends for breakfast or lunch allows us to reminisce, to discuss the latest happenings, to give each other guidance.

Other joys include going with dear friends shopping, to shows and on trips, eating out or having dinner at someone's home. Talking on the phone or via email to family and friends any time of the day surely revives my spirits.

One of my greatest joys is talking with and visiting my third cousin Mandy Kent and her parents for my writing of "Mandy's Story," about her lifelong struggles having been born with spina bifida 37 years ago.

Volunteer efforts also keep me in touch with people from my church and with fellow board members at Carroll Lutheran School, where I can impact the lives of young people. All these instances help to refresh my soul and keep me connected to those who make life meaningful. You may notice that a number of these social occasions involve food as well, so I guess they also nourish my body.

As we age, staying connected with friends and family and groups that are doing good in the world is an important use of one of our most valuable resources, our time. Let's spend our time wisely keeping connected.