Lesson Three: Live in Moderation – Aging Our Way

Find a ninety-something and watch closely.

Pay attention to her outlook on life and death, her balanced meals and moderate portion sizes at mealtime, her approach to consuming alcohol and to spending, and her general resourcefulness.

The generation that came of age during the Great Depression learned how to live in moderation, and some are still practicing this ethic today.

Rose Siblings 1930s

Coming of Age in the Depression

Sometimes this can be overkill. For example, my husband’s grandmother regularly sent half-opened boxes of cookies to her grandchildren. And I know some elders who are too frugal to pay for their own care, even when they have the money.

But most of the time, moderation, frugality, and resourcefulness is what gets them through, time and again.

They don’t think anything of it: Ann who limits her consumption of alcohol and sweets, Mary who sews drapes, slipcovers, and chair pads for her living space, Olga who seeks out discounts, freebies, and leftovers. These are lessons they learned in childhood that constitute common sense.

As we get older, our chances of living in poverty rise exponentially. And yet, a generation trained to save can overcome the odds.

Rose, who worries about our self-centered immediate-gratification culture, is trying to get the word out to future generations. She counsels her grandchildren, “Don’t spend your last dollar on yourself. SAVE – so that everybody can have something.”

As our elders pass on, Depression era common sense may be disappearing. Indeed,  a general lack of self-control and resourcefulness may very well be my generation’s downfall.

Let’s keep this from happening.

What lessons have you learned from your elders that you’d like to pass along to the next generation?

This is the third in a 13- post series on living well, adapted from Aging Our Way: Lessons for Living from 85 and Beyond

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Meika Loe

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