Age Is Just a Number: Barbara Morris
She’s even coined the phrase “ageless activist” to describe her work advocating non-traditional lifelong growth and productivity — an anti-leisure lifestyle, if you will. She fights against the prevailing attitudes about aging and age-related decline and works toward helping others see her point of view: that age and decline are not synonymous.
Age Is Just A Number
Morris was just 30 when she knew she wanted to make a change. She was a pharmacist at the time and had seen people of all ages — but particularly seniors — come in needing all sorts of medications.
“What made me really wake up was that the last pharmacy I worked at had a huge senior population,” she says. “They were at different income levels, but they were living the traditional retirement lifestyle, and it was all leisure-oriented.”
She’s rejected the idea of retirement and even though she understands wanting to take a break after a lifetime of working, she insists that a leisure-focused lifestyle can be harmful.
“When you get to my age, you cannot be leisure-oriented,” she says. “You’ve heard the expression ‘use it or lose it,’ right? If you don’t use your head, if you don’t use your body, you are going to lose it.”
She believes that age is just a construct and doesn’t impact one’s health nearly as much as one’s mindset. It’s a rebellious idea she’s proud to stand behind.
“I have no respect for my chronological age,” she says. “It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just a number. It’s not reflective of cognitive or physical ability.”
From Pharmacist to Author
Changing Lifestyle Habits
After she realized that lifestyle and mindset were key factors in the way people age, she focused her attention on developing new habits. She began a regular fitness routine and made changes to her diet, and for the past 60 years, she’s kept at both.
“I never stopped my interest in nutrition and being physically active, and I’ve realized in my later years that diet, exercise and what goes on in your head determines just how quickly you’re going to age,” she says.
In her home she has a treadmill, a Gazelle Glider and other exercise equipment she uses daily. Though she has scoliosis, she says she doesn’t have any terrible aches and pains.
When it comes to diet, she doesn’t eat anything fried and cuts out sugar wherever she can. She also has a healthy one-pot recipe she swears by.
“I take a whole bunch of frozen vegetables, and instead of water, I throw in bone broth and high-quality protein like organic ground beef, seasonings and throw it all in a slow cooker. And that gives me food for a week.”
In addition to this, she makes sure she takes her vitamins, especially vitamin C. She says that people often remark on how healthy her skin looks, and while she thinks creams might be helpful, it’s all about what you put into your body — not what you put on it.
The Future Is Yours
As someone who’s always been future-oriented, Morris was conscious that the decisions she made in the present would have a greater impact down the road. It’s something she thinks everyone should keep in mind, especially with regards to aging.
“The kind of future you’re going to have is up to you,” she says. “The sooner you start [healthy habits] in life, the easier is it to keep it up.”
While some seniors may believe they are already set in their ways, Morris urges everyone to have an open mind if they want to make change.
“It’s never too late,” she says. “You can always change. As seniors, you get to a place where there might be certain things you can’t change, but your lifestyle, your diet, these are things that you can change.”
It would seem that Morris has found a way to master the art of aging gracefully, but to her, there’s no such thing.
“You don’t want to age gracefully,” she says. “Fight like hell.”
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