~ by Carol Vartuli
The idea to accentuate the positives of aging was introduced when Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) began to turn 50. That post-war generation didn’t accept the status quo in the 1960s, and they were determined to debunk myths about aging as they approached their 60s and 70s.
Carolyn Worthington, the creator of September is Healthy Aging Month, is the publisher of Healthy Aging Magazine, and HealthyAging.net . “The observance (this month) encourages people to rejuvenate and get going on positive measures that can impact the areas of physical, social, financial and mental wellness.”
This September, the magazine editors have articulated 10 tips to reinvent yourself.
The first is:
- “Do not act your age, or at least what you think your current age should act like.” If you feel more like 60 than 85, act like it. Your peers might remind you that you’re not a kid anymore, but staying mentally young helps you maintain your own positive essence.
Other tips on Healthy Aging’s list include:
- “Be positive in your conversations and actions everyday. If you find yourself complaining, stop and change the conversation to something positive.”
- “Find your inner artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young school children? You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped.”
- “Lonely? Stop brooding and complaining about having no friends or family. Do something about it now. Right this minute. Pick up the phone… and make a call to do one or more of the following: volunteer your time, take a class, invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee.”
These tips directly challenge tendencies to think negatively. The reality of aging is that we don’t always feel the way we used to. We have more physical limitations; our bodies have acquired wear and tear. But, there are ways to lessen the impact of aging.
In the last few decades, numerous medical institutions and research groups have studied the aging process. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), for example, conducts ongoing research, following participants over a decade or more. Results from these studies, and others, concur that several actions can help us maintain health and function as we age.
Here are some of the top recommendations:
- Get moving! Exercise and physical activity help us to live longer, and better. They can reduce the risk of developing diseases and disabilities that often accompany aging. Balance, strength and flexibility exercises help in avoiding falls, developing osteoporosis and give us freedom of movement.
- Pay attention to weight and shape. Many health problems stem from being overweight or obese: diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. Body shape, with body fat concentrated in the abdomen, for example, makes you more vulnerable to certain diseases.
- Think about what you eat. Eating well is not just about your weight. It can help protect you from certain health problems that occur more frequently among older adults. Not eating enough fruits and vegetables, for example, can lead to low carotenoid concentration, associated with greater risk of skeletal muscle decline.
- Participate in activities you enjoy. One 21-year NIH-NIA study linked participation in activities like reading, board games, playing a musical instrument, and dancing, with lower risk for dementia. Another study showed that older adults who participated in social activities (games; social groups; local events; traveling) or productive activities (paid or unpaid jobs; cooking; gardening) lived longer than people who did not take part in these types of activities.
If you reside near friends and family, in a community where you can participate in social gatherings and stimulating activities, you are more apt to age healthily.
Many seniors without family nearby are fortunate to live in senior communities, like The Osborn, where proximity to peers encourages social interaction, and physical activity.
“We call our broad spectrum of programs WellSpring ,” says Lisa Hoxie, director of Life Enrichment at The Osborn. “Programs range from exercise classes and nature walks, to concerts and college classes, and trips to museums and area historical sites. We’re 100 percent invested in engaging our residents’ minds, bodies and souls.”
Excellent ways to ensure a positive attitude that can keep your spirits up and help you stay healthy well into later life.