Lorna Jones generally enjoys her time working alone at home on various projects, and at social events she can be the life of the party. She says that it is mainly luck that allows her to have so much fun at age 89. But she has made many choices that shape her still interesting life.
If you are looking ahead to your own advanced years, consider these strategies, drawn from Lorna’s life.
- Exercise. Lorna hasn’t engaged in sports for many years, but she has gardened almost daily for much of her life. Winters are long where she lives north of Chicago, but she gets outside most days for almost 9 months of the year. And during the frigid months her home is full of the many plants she brings inside and spends hours tending.
- Learn new things. Experts say that you may keep your brain sharp by taking on challenging tasks, like learning languages. During her 60s, Lorna learned French and hosted a series of exchange students from France. In her 70s, she stayed in Lyon with the grandmother of one of those students, and continued to foster a relationship with her “French family.” Then, while serving as a volunteer teacher of English as a second language, she became interested in Latin culture. She learned Spanish and grew close to several Latino families.
- Be creative. Lorna’s intense approach to gardening is certainly creative, but that is just the beginning. She also took up painting in her 60s, and now has been studying art and painting semi-professionally for almost 30 years (see a sample of Lorna’s paintings below). In addition to pursuing crafts and hobbies, Lorna likes to keep in touch with broader creative trends. For her own amusement, she follows indie and international film trends, and regularly sends her reviews to Blockbuster, to help guide others who are in search of the latest.
- Maintain a varied circle. “You’ll be surprised,” Lorna once said, “by some of the people who will show up at my funeral.” Actually her family will expect a varied crowd when that sad event occurs. In part through her many years of art classes, Lorna has developed a circle of friends drawn from all age groups and many cultures.
- Let the bad stuff go. Of course, at this age Lorna has had her share of health issues and even panics. She walks with a limp because of her bad knee, and recently spent time in the hospital with digestive issues. Her strength is that she does not allow health or other challenges to define her life. She deals with issues as they come along, and then refocuses on something positive. She keeps too busy to get bogged down obsessing about her own symptoms.
- Keep up with technology. Even when she is snowed in, Lorna is not cut off because she can order what she needs from Amazon. She stays in touch with her circle through e-mail. And although she lives many miles from family members in her native New Zealand, she is in the loop because she sees them on Facebook. Lorna takes regular lessons to learn about managing her software, and she can entertain her grandchildren with e-cards that she designs herself.
- Have pets. Research suggests that caring for pets helps older folks, particularly widows like Lorna, to stay healthy and feel needed. Lorna says that her three cats are great company, and she particularly enjoys evenings with Grandpa, an old Tom who, she says, enjoys listening to classical music with her.
Four of Lorna Jones’ paintings are shown below
Bev’s Tips for a Better Work Life is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month by Beverly E. Jones of ClearWays Consulting, LLC. Bev is a lawyer and former executive who now coaches accomplished executives and other professionals to bring new direction, energy and enjoyment to their work lives.
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