As our population ages, our society is finally recognizing that old age is a gift. Despite some of the negative images in the media, it really is possible to embrace our elderhood as a creative and spiritual journey.
People who have aged successfully share common characteristics.
There is no question that most of our lifestyle choices are what will determine whether we age in good physical and mental health or fall prey to sickness and disability. Although it may be a cliché, moderation is the key in everything. By practicing moderation and following these ten tips, you too can be a “long-liver” and, more importantly, enjoy your elder hood in the process.
1. Optimism: Optimists live longer and happier than pessimists. If your glass is always half empty, try to alter this perception. Isn’t it better to think about your glass as half full?
2. Altruism: Altruism refers to service to your community, your church, synagogue or other efforts that help others. By giving back, you can bring joy and satisfaction and longer life to yourself and those you serve.
3. Sense of Humor: Why live longer if you’re going to be in misery? Humor is contagious. Share it with everyone you meet.
4. Exercise: Exercise should be moderate and regular. It need not be rigorous to be effective. 20 minute brisk walk or swim 3 to 5 days a week will do it. One of the benefits of elderhood is more free time. Be good to yourself; take 20 minutes every day for a walk or a swim or some other form of moderate exercise. If 20 minutes at a time is a hardship, consider breaking down the time into 5 or 10 minute installments. The key is to stay active. Your body will thank you for it.
5. Alcohol: Research suggests that moderate drinkers actually live longer than those who don’t drink at all. Once again, the key is moderation. Feel free to have that glass of red wine every night with dinner (the tannins in red wine can aid in digestion and cardiac health) but don’t overdo it. Women especially need to be careful about alcohol consumption.
6. Smoking: Don’t smoke ever. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. You can actually rebuild some of your lung tissue after quitting smoking. Do it now.
7. Balanced Diet: Eat regular meals and follow the health pyramid. Our area has an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and we should take advantage of it.
8. Regular Sleep: Try to go to bed at the same time each night. It will help you sleep better and longer. Avoid excessive alcohol prior to bed time. If you have difficulty sleeping or suffer from insomnia see your doctor.
9. Preventive Medical Care: All women should schedule an annual pap smear and mammography. Women should also remember to examine their breasts monthly. Make sure you have any other tests that may be required based on your age or risk factors. It is always better to prevent disease than try to cure disease after its occurrence.
10. Spiritual Practice: People who age consciously tend to have some type of spiritual practice such as meditation, contemplation, yoga, church or other religious services. This does not need to be a religious pursuit. Even walks in nature can help you center and balance your spirit. Time alone with yourself and your god, however you may define him or her, will help you get in touch with the real reason for living.
Wherever you may be in your life’s journey, it is important that you take care of yourself as well as you care for your loved ones. While you may not be able to prevent aging, these tips will help you to alter or ease the consequences of aging for you and your family. Carpé Diem!