While old age can bring challenges, it can also be delightful, says Kelowna’s Ralph Milton, author of the recently released Well Aged: Making the most of your platinum years.

While old age can bring challenges, it can also be delightful, says Kelowna’s Ralph Milton, author of the recently released Well Aged: Making the most of your platinum years.

Well Aged: Finding happiness at 80+

Octogenarian shares how to make the most of your platinum years

It’s important to live, not simply endure, regardless of our age.

It’s a message central to Okanagan author Ralph Milton latest book, Well Aged: Making the most of your platinum years.

Following a life-long career in publishing, Well Aged is Milton’s 25th book and one he writes from personal experience – told with humour and backed by personal research.

“It’s a book I rather fell into,” Milton says.

When he and his wife, Beverley, moved into Kelowna’s Dorchester retirement residence, their previous experience had been largely with the younger senior demographic – say, 55 to 75 year olds – a demographic also reflected in much of the available literature.

While the 80-plus age group is the fastest-growing demographic, it’s essentially invisible in the media, Milton notes. Well Aged aims to close some of that gap.

Published by Douglas McIntyre, both seniors and adult children are enjoying the book. “I have been astounded by the response,” Milton says.

An insider’s take on life among the old

“Well Aged offers a candid, useful and entertaining insider’s take on life among the old,” the publisher writes. This isn’t the recently retired, “enjoying Arizona winters and unlimited golf, but those in their last years, usually in the 80- to 100-year-old bracket.”

Written “for the oldest of the old. Or for their families and care givers,” this “is a free wheeling, down-to-earth, inside look at what it’s really like to be old, written by-an insider and sprinkled liberally with humour.”

Among the many topics covered are: identity and independence; choosing a retirement location among the options of independent living, retirement residences and nursing homes; personal health needs and priorities; community support, friendships and recreation; spirituality and religion; intimacy, companionship, sexuality and homosexuality; loneliness, depression and frailty; and leaving a legacy and end of life arrangements.

Chatting with many of his fellow residents, Milton learned about their varied life experiences, challenges and joys later in life.

What he learned may surprise younger readers.

“Being old is OK,” he says. While adaptations for health issues typically come with advanced years, “death is not the worst thing that can happen to you, and it no longer has to be the long, painful experience it sometimes was.”

Kelowna’s Beverley and Ralph Milton. Ralph’s latest book, Well Aged: Making the most of your platinum years, is a candid, useful and entertaining insider’s take on later life.

Kelowna’s Beverley and Ralph Milton. Ralph’s latest book, Well Aged: Making the most of your platinum years, is a candid, useful and entertaining insider’s take on later life.

While old age can bring challenges, it can also be delightful, Milton argues, pointing out that reported happiness levels are greatest in their 80s. As pressures to perform fade, people choose to embrace shared experiences and put aside differences. “You realize how much you need community,” he says.

Our need to be social came into sharp focus during the pandemic, when at the outset seniors were confined to their homes, or in the case of those in retirement residences, to their suites.

“The greatest health risk people have is loneliness. It provides the groundwork so other diseases can take hold.”

Milton also points to the central metaphor in the book title.

As good wine grows more mellow with age, and more tasty, platinum is more valuable than gold, and while also softer and more malleable, is more easily damaged.

Well Aged the book is available at local bookstores and online. To further explore some of these key issues discussed in the book, Milton has also launched the Well Aged Podcast.

BooksSeniors