The Art of Senior Living

The Art of Senior Living

By Carmen Rioja


I became an expert in healthy senior living by living in San Miguel de Allende since 1994, a town famous for the best quality of life for retired people. If you are a senior and came to San Miguel to retire—but also want to keep active and enjoy life with a healthy approach—this column is for you. 


We believe that health is only a physical matter, but that is far from true. We need to learn all the dimensions of health in order to strengthen our system or recover when struggling with viruses, bacteria, traumas, or any illness. Let’s first talk about what is health and why I advise spending some time doing certain activities.


Health is the absence of illness; if you add a holistic approach to the physical aspect, you will find that in both soul and body, there are signs of discomfort prior to illness. A sadness for a loss may become gastritis very quickly. The trends for healthcare in the future will consider not only a physical approach but also deep wellness that may include many areas like emotional health, social health, restorative health, preventive health, sexual health, and so on. Find your own needs. Spend some time researching legitimate sources such as world organizations, universities and research centers, and newspapers. Find good tips that help you and your family.


My stepfather, Abel, is 92 years old. Recently he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, leaving the whole family disabled in many ways. We knew little about the challenge and what this would mean in the future. He was known in town for being healthy for his age when in his 80s. He was still clear-minded and adventurous then, led a mountain hiking club for Los Picachos, loved walks at Charco del Ingenio, visited the different famous spring waters of Atotonilco often, and, like many retired people, he was devoted to the search for the perfect Mexican beach. All these things you have to try at least once if you really mean to enjoy life. Because of this, his body remains as strong as an ox even now.


After his first memory symptoms, we all had to adapt to his needs and learn a lot about health issues, stress relief techniques, restorative physical activities, and food that potentially enhances his health. All of this we did not know, so we had to do our research. Another suggestion: keep reading and writing, which also will keep your memory sharp as long as possible, even when struggling with Alzheimer’s.


What I mean is, if we want to enhance our health now, when it is so urgently transcendental, we need to start educating ourselves in all the dimensions that involve living a healthy life. But for now, I will tell you my best secrets for enjoying life in San Miguel. Oh my God, this is going to have to be a one-year column! Please follow me!


Get active: go for a walk to a nice destination. I love to walk from El Jardín to Parque Juárez and reach Los Lavaderos.


Get conscious: Look inwards, try to figure out where your discomforts and chronic symptoms really come from. Yoga is the best for this purpose! Tai-Chi can also be practiced in a small garden. Wash your hands, and do not touch your face or eyes without hand sanitization.


Get wise: Research and try to find the best-certified science sources. If you need a medical opinion, always go to your doctor. Do not believe in information circulating only in social media. Do your research in official medical networks and institutions. Read books in the library when necessary. All areas are disinfected, there are door monitors, and you can make appointments for everything now. And for reliable information on the web, search at the US National Library of Medicine:


Get involved: Give yourself a chance to make new friends, attend a video conference, or join an NGO. All the good you make outside will make you feel super-energized inside. San Miguel has one of the highest numbers of non-profit organizations.


Get happy: Have a great breakfast every day and include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and water in your diet. Read good news, and give yourself time to read literature or science—any topic will provide not only entertainment but culture and social skills. Surround yourself with proactive, loving people and be so yourself. 


We need to stick together to succeed in the future times. This week I had an adorable breakfast with coffee and books at Café Santa Ana. It was a great and healthy start to my busy morning. Wait for more; see you next time!


Carmen Rioja was born in northern Mexico and spent her childhood between the cities of Sabinas, Coahuila, and Monterrey. From a family of merchants, industrialists, and cowboys, she was raised by her divorced mother who worked in an ice factory. At an early age, she showed an interest in art. Taciturn in character, she discovered the books in a now-abandoned public library in the historic center of Monterrey. Right there, she entered the Academy of Arts to take sculpture classes. At the age of 18, she began working in restoration and architecture companies. Since then, she has moved between languages, media, and artistic support. She has specialized in critical writing, restoration of archaeological materials, and coordinating creative workshops. She likes to write stories or poems and throw them in bottles into the sea. Rioja has published the books “La Muerte Niña” and “Rojo 43.” Twitter: riohoja Instagram: @carmen.rioja