September is Healthy Aging Month: Staying Healthy As We Age
As people age, they experience many major changes in their lives. There are career changes and retirement. Children leave home. Friends and family pass away. Many physical changes happen to our bodies. All these changes can cause stress. How we deal with this stress determines our mental, emotional and physical health as we advance in years.
Yes, all these changes give us plenty to worry about. But before you start worrying, be aware that so much of what we worry about is a myth. Here are the most common myths about aging:
Myth #1: Aging means declining health and/or disability.
Fact #1: There are diseases that are more common as we age. But that doesn’t automatically mean that you will be confined to a wheelchair or walker. Many older adults enjoy great vigor and good health, sometimes even better than the younger generation. They keep healthy by eating right, exercising and managing stress.
Myth #2: Memory loss is inevitable.
Fact #2: You may notice that it takes a little longer to remember things. But that doesn’t necessarily signal major memory loss. Brain training and learning new things at every age will help keep your memory sharp.
Myth #3: You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks!
Fact #3: People in their older years are just as capable of learning new things. A desire to try and an interest in making a contribution is all that’s needed. Plus, older people have a great advantage over younger folks. They have the wisdom of life’s experience.
Ways to Stay Healthy
Find activities you enjoy! Try a new hobby. Learn something new. Get involved in your community. Go fishing, or take a hike. Enjoy an art exhibit, a play or movie.
Stay connected with others! Spend time with people you enjoy like a neighbor or family member. Have lunch, exercise or shop together. Try to make new friends…and younger friends who can give you a different perspective on life. Try to spend some time each day with a person you like. Spending time with others wards off depression.
Manage your worries! Focus on your blessings! Acknowledge and express your feelings. Accept things you cannot change and face your limitations with dignity and a healthy dose of humor!
Find a support group in times of change! If you are coping with a difficult life change, seek out a group where you can share your feelings.
Boost your vitality! You can feel very good physically and mentally if you eat properly, exercise and get adequate rest. Take time to see your health professional before starting an exercise program. Flu season is here so be sure to get a flu shot before the worst of the flu season sets in.
Sharpen your mind! Try puzzles. Try cooking something new. Get some computer skills. Try a sport like golf. Take a class at the community college. Things that strengthen social connections also strengthen the mind.
Be a volunteer! Helping others will enrich your life. Even with some mobility problems, you can volunteer to be on the phone with others.