There is no perfect way or guide to help you age gracefully, but in my mind, it has a lot to do with having the right attitude and accepting the changes taking place in your life. When I think about some of the people I perceive to be aging gracefully, the first person that comes to mind is a client of mine. Even though she has a few health issues, she has a positive outlook and chooses to see the brighter side of things. She once told me that she doesn't repent growing old, because it is a privilege that is not afforded to everyone.
Research has shown that even in older adults with a high genetic risk for developing dementia, a positive attitude toward aging can reduce the risk of developing it by nearly 50%. Research has also shown that older persons who have acquired positive beliefs about old age from their surrounding culture are less likely to experience cognitive decline. So, something you can do to age well, is invest time in activities and thoughts that make you feel better.
Talking about the more obvious changes we experience when aging, changes in hair, skin, physical abilities and posture are experienced by almost everyone.
Some people embrace their greying, while others choose to colour their hair. There are a number of options available to those who choose to colour their hair, and a good hairdresser can help you transition to grey hair when you want to. Usually, most stylists recommend waiting for 60% of all hair to go grey before choosing to stop colouring hair in another shade.
With skin, it's not as easy a fix as hair. Wrinkles and age spots can only be manipulated surgically. Most people choose to leave their skin as is, but it is always a good idea to continue moisturizing your skin, and regularly applying sunscreen to prevent premature aging of skin and help keeping skin healthy. Staying hydrated , getting enough sleep and eating healthy is equally important when it comes to looking after your skin.
Most people will experience a loss in muscle mass, and gain fat. People also find themselves unable to perform certain tasks requiring agility and strength. This is yet another normal sign of aging. However, an active lifestyle is very important for seniors because regular exercise can help manage heart disease, diabetes, and it can also reduce joint pain associated with arthritis. By improving balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength, older adults can stay active and independent for longer.
Older adults are at risk for osteoporosis, muscle loss, and compression of the discs in the spine. The result can be a distinctive stooped posture, as well as aches, pains, and mobility issues. But improving your posture isn't just about reminding yourself to sit straight or stand up straight. You have to strengthen your muscles to improve your posture. Stretching exercises, strength training, yoga and swimming are some excellent ways to maintain your posture.
With a positive attitude and commitment to healthy habits, aging gracefully is possible. Sometimes, we might need help to overcome physical disabilities and health challenges but growing older continues to have its own rewards. Remaining positive, open, and flexible is key.
I can imagine how difficult it can be for some to deal with the challenges presented by aging. At in4MED, we can make this stressful time easier by providing you with information about your condition, connecting you to local support systems and being there for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers. *No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.