Nonagenarians now represent 4.7 percent of the 65-and-older US population, compared to 2.8 percent in 1980. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that by 2050, the number of those living beyond 90 years will quadruple.
By the time we reach that age, we may have lost our spouse, other family members and most of our friends. We’ll have some disability which takes away much of our freedom. Driving a car is usually out of the question, although I know several folks who continue to drive at this age. They are less likely to be texting or drinking while driving, but their reflexes aren’t what they used to be.
When you live until 90 and beyond, the body no longer produces new cells to replace the old ones, so at this age you are slowly dying. There are options for those with need of memory care. Many facilities are now offering activities that challenge the memory and often those who love music will be stimulated by the sound of a piano playing. Those who have forgotten members of their family can be reminded through old photographs, stories from the past and more contact with family members. Anything that keeps the mind active is critical at this point in life. Our bodies may be falling apart, but if our minds are sound, we can live for a long time.
When we’re without a spouse or friends to rely on, many in this age bracket realize the need for moving out of the supposed comfort of their homes into a community of people with similar needs. I believe that most people thrive on other people. When we isolate ourselves, we lose interest in life. If we were socially active in our younger years, chances are we’ll want that in our aging years.
Many people do very well in nursing homes or assisted living facilities for that very reason. Activity directors are constantly looking for new things for their residents to be involved in. My mother in law spent almost the last twenty years of her life in a care facility and loved it. There are those who simply think this is the end of their lives and give up. You will see them lined up in their wheel chairs with no desire to go on.
Since we’re living longer in the United States, we need to make the most of those years. God still can use us, no matter what our age. It’s up to us to find a way to continue sharing our talents and wisdom for His glory, until we take our last breath.
The final scene is set. The pieces have all been placed. The player enters the stage for his last monologue. It is the prayer of a faithful servant – the final words you utter – the lasting impression you’ve made on others – the heritage you leave behind.
Death comes to us all. Are we ready? Right now, I’ve mixed feelings about leaving this planet. I’m confident in what lies ahead, but I’ve grown quite accustomed to this place. I have memories stored here of happiness, dreams fulfilled, goals met. I’ve a husband I’ve shared most of my life with – three children I’ve given birth to – grandchildren and someday even great grandchildren. I’ve an extended family of friends, people I’ve reached out to and those who have enriched my life. It’s hard to say goodbye to those things.
Jesus spent only 33 years on earth. He gave up His throne in heaven to become one of us. He lived among us, establishing relationships, touching lives, healing the sick and bringing hope to a world infected with sin. In just a short time, His life changed ours forever. He submitted to His Father’s will, because of His love for us. Those who have faith in Him will never die. Eternity waits for all of us. Our faith, which is a gift from the Holy Spirit, will determine where we spend it.
If I didn’t have that hope to cling to, I’d never have made it. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations. We need a Savior to make us right with God – to pay the price – to die so we can live. Jesus’ life didn’t end there. He conquered death when he rose again on the third day. That truth insures us of everlasting life in God’s house.
What will I do in heaven? I have no clue, but I’m certain I’ll be free from sickness, there will be no suffering or tears, all my infirmities will be healed, I will have reached the final goal – the last chapter. Maybe there will be a job for an old acting coach up there. Of course I won’t be old then. I’ll be able to do whatever God has in store for me, because I will have a new ageless body with energy to spare. Now that’s what I call paradise.
We really don’t need to prepare for heaven, because it’s all been made ready for us, by the Creator of all things. He has done it all for us. All we need do is believe.
“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.” Leonardo da Vinci