As today’s ‘retirees’ continue to blaze new trails on living long, it’s clearly evident an ageless mindset is at the core. Since we know what we think matters, more and more older adults are definitely challenging the traditional image of aging by revolutionizing their thinking about what’s possible — and the results are both inspiring and life changing.
Sister Madonna Buder, at 88-years young is one such example. Known as the “Iron Nun”, she holds an impressive record of completing 45 Ironmans (including at age 75, where she became the oldest person to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii) and 340+ triathlons. And earlier this month, she took the top spot (in the 85-to-89 female age group) at the USA Triathlon National Championships in Cleveland, Ohio.
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Sister Madonna Buder over 20-years ago at the age of 67 — known at that time as the “Nun on the Run”. Yes, she really is a full-time Roman Catholic nun, and has been for 65+ years. And when asked why take on these feats, she just said she thought a little exercise would be good for her soul — as well as her health, so she started by running her errands, literally … to the store, bank, post office, etc.
Today, Sister Madonna Buder still runs her errands but her days start with a 4-mile round trip run to morning mass, followed by a few errands to log in additional miles, and almost daily she also runs to the jail where she volunteers by visiting with inmates. Since volunteering is an important part of her life, she squeezes her workouts in based on where she is needed rather than sticking to a set exercise routine.
Yuichiro Miura, is the oldest person ever to scale Mt Everest, at the age of 80 — not for the first time, not for the second time, but for the third consecutive time! He set the record at 70, again at 75, and then beat his own record again at age 80. But what makes this story even more incredible is the fact that he started his 80th year off with his fourth heart surgery!
With a history of health problems, in his 60s, Miura was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase stroke and heart disease risk. He was also eating and drinking too much, had a diabetic problem, as well as heart and kidney disease. But Miura refused to give up — even after encountering several additional medical problems, including cardiac arrhythmia, which caused mayhem on his heart after his record climb at 75. Four heart surgeries later and time off to recuperate, at age 80, Miura once again felt the mountain calling, even though it was the same year of his most recent heart operation.
“I had a dream to climb Everest at this age,” Miura said. “If you have a dream, never give up. Dreams come true.”
While it clearly takes more than just dreams to achieve these feats, at the foundation of dreams are beliefs. Clearly both Sister Madonna Buder and Yuichiro Miura don’t believe advancing age means slowing down, but rather, if you believe you will achieve!
In my 30+year experience in this field, I believe the psychological aspect of aging and retirement may matter more than most people think, as it truly lays the foundation for everything we do, why we do it, what we do next, and how. Those who embrace the aging process are generally more likely to live healthy lives … and that requires an ageless mindset.