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Everyone gets older. It is a fact no one can deny. The trick is doing so and remaining healthy and happy.
To age gracefully requires acceptance of bodily or social changes and engaging in meaningful activities. Perhaps the most difficult are those happening to one’s body and mind. Many times depression can sweep into a person’s life making it more difficult to interact with others, even family, and physicians.
As the “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” generation continues to die off, Baby Boomers become the majority of those aging. One advantage the boomers, who are currently in their 60s, have is they believe in caring for their mental health. They seek information about remaining healthy and aging well gracefully. Fortunately, or perhaps, unfortunately, the web is rampant with articles suggesting one method or another. The less extreme and perhaps more logical information can be on sites like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) or WebMD.
It is vital to refrain from pessimism and critical self-talk. Focusing on one’s changes in appearance can be as detrimental as is obsessing over societal stereotypes about getting old. Some insist on dying their hair, having plastic surgery, and any number of other sundry methods to maintain a younger appearance.
A more positive and healthy approach is to consider every gray hair and wrinkle as service stripes; each and every one earned. Proverbs 16:31 explains:
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. (NIV)
Experts say seeking happiness is another way of coming to terms with the aging process. Humor holds a myriad of healing qualities. The greatest is reducing stress. Next would be laughter, which disengages people from negatively obsessing about getting older.
Laughter Yoga International not only believes humor promotes good health, it can aid in healing those with chronic illnesses. Their website offers listings of free Laughter Clubs around the world. For those who are tech-savvy, there are clubs located on Skype. Not only do participants laugh, but they do breathing exercises.
Geriatrician Harvey Jay Cohen advises people who want to live healthy until they die to laugh, sleep and get a tetanus shot. He explains:
Longevity has a strong genetic component, but how healthy you are is largely up to you.
People over 50 who sleep 6-9 hours nightly have sharper memories than those who sleep less. Cohen adds, there seems to be a connection to sleep and repairing “all the things that might have gone wrong during the day.”
“Poor sleepers exhibit signs of premature skin aging, fine lines, uneven skin tone, and reduced elasticity” reports a study by researchers at the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
Other studies indicate that men and women who carry around extra weight around the middle are at a higher risk of dying than those whose mass body index is lower. Americans live in an era of excess, especially when it comes to food. Maintaining a healthy weight is a step in the right direction.
Experts tell seniors to get out there and move. It does not matter whether it is yoga, Thai-chi, water aerobics, walking, swimming, dancing or any other type of exercise. Remembering to expend calories will help one’s weight, it might increase the immune system. Exercising in groups helps seniors to be social, and to maintain a positive attitude.
Other ways to be healthy as an older adult include continuing to work, either outside or at home, keeping up with events happening, learning new skills, and socializing.
When one focuses on the positive, stays informed, and active they will lead healthier lives. Essentially, choosing to do all that is necessary to retain good health could afford seniors greater satisfaction for the remainder of their lives.
By Cathy Milne
The Emergency Email & Wireless Network: 5 Ways to Age Well
AARP: For Longevity, Laughter and a Good Night’s Rest
WebMD: The Art of Aging Gracefully
Laughter Yoga International: Laughter Is Good for Health and Healing
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Adam’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License