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Experts’ Advice for Aging Well
Posted in: Aging Well
With age comes change. That is inevitable. However, Asbury wellness directors Sandy Reid and Cathy Richards have had ample time to see that how you age is not inevitable. They share what they’ve learned about aging and wellness through the hundreds of older persons they have worked with throughout their careers.
Sandy Reid, Bethany Village, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
Be willing to go in a new direction. “A resident at Bethany Village was a passionate golfer who played three to four times a week,” Reid says. “Then she started having significant back issues, and golf was out. Instead of looking at the situation as the end of golf forever, she started playing on our community’s mini-golf course. Now she’s out there every day in nice weather and is a top player in the mini-golf tournaments.”
Find a purpose in life. Keeping connected with people and feeling like you are still an active participant in society is cited as a key component in successful aging in study after study. Keep in touch with your family and friends. Seek out opportunities and events where you can make new friends. Search your local Office on Aging website, and it will typically provide a listing of volunteer opportunities and links to community events, classes, etc.
Find Your Balance. Having just said it’s important to remain active and connected, it’s also important to keep balance in your life. Retirement should be a time where you can relax, so don’t overcommit yourself. Learn how to say, “I’m sorry, but just can’t take that on right now” if you are feeling stressed.
Physically, balance is something that does start to change as we age, and it’s a key contributors to falls that can have very serious health repercussions. These balance exercises are easy to do at home with the aid of a chair.
Balance your diet, too. Of course, it’s important to eat healthy, but you don’t have to say goodbye to meat and potatoes forever. You just have to find a way to balance it.
Cathy Moxley Richards, Asbury Methodist Village, Gaithersburg, Md.
Some people think aging is all about genetics and inevitability, and that you have to accept what happens. That’s just not the case. What we know as aging in many cases is disuse, whether physical or mental. In the book Successful Aging by Drs. John Rowe and Robert Kahn, they concluded that 70 percent of the differences in how people age is determined by lifestyle choices. Research studies of cultures noted for their longevity have identified some common denominators, namely:
- Don’t smoke
- Maintain strong connections with friends and family
- Be active every day
- Keep socially engaged
- Eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
Use it or lose it. There’s not a single other health change that can have as far reaching benefits as exercise – it’s your best prescription for successful aging. For maximum benefit, make sure you’re moving for at least 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week, that you are stretching daily, and that you are incorporating some strength exercises two to three times a week.
Put your brain to work. There are lots of new brain fitness programs you can do online, but really, anything that requires your brain to continue to change and learn is positive. Take a class or try a new hobby. Find different routes to drive to routine places. Switch hands for daily tasks like brushing your teeth and not just for one day.