I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that. ~Lauren Bacall
Most of us don’t think much about aging. Well that’s not true. The truth is that thinking about aging consumes many of us, yet we try to think about aging less than anything else in our lives. If you are struggling with aging, then Aging 101 a Positive Perspective may help you with a few tips on how to do it well.
Maintaining a Healthy Glow While Aging
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps feed your cells and keep everything in peak condition. It’s your body’s principal chemical component and makes up about 60 percent of your body weight. Water flushes toxins out of vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells, and helps keep your skin hydrated. Insufficient amounts of water can even drain you of energy and make you feel tired. According to the Institute of Medicine, men should consume about 13 cups of water a day and women should consume about 9 cups of water a day. Generally if you are drinking enough water daily, your urine should be nearly colorless.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Discuss your diet with your doctor and follow his or her recommendations. Medications may also be influenced by what you eat. There may be foods that you need to avoid or consider consuming that you never gave much thought to before. There may also be supplements, such as fish oil, that may improve your health. Consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables is something nearly everyone needs to do more of and it will help your body function better and enhance the condition of your skin.
- Exercise: Go for a swim. Take a walk. Sign up for yoga or a tai chi class. Engage your muscles and improve your circulation by adding some form of exercise to your daily routine. Of course, always discuss your planned exercise routine with your doctor before beginning one.
The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion. ~Doris Lessing
Aging and Physical Weakness
As you age, you may notice more aches in your body because your exercise and/or nutrition routine has not been one that allows you to maintain optimum physical fitness, or you may suffer from arthritis or some other illness. Any of these can contribute to the sense “that you can’t do what you used to be able to do” and this can lead to depression and isolation. You can combat these things in a variety of ways.
- Work on the things that will contribute to a healthier glow. The combination of water, healthy diet, and exercise will all add to your physical endurance. If you are just starting to reverse a lifetime of poor nutrition or non-existent exercise, give yourself time to build endurance and strength. It took more than weeks to get to where you are, and it will take more than a few weeks to improve your physical condition.
- If you have a condition, such as arthritis, that limits your physical ability, it is important to focus on those things that you can do. None of us are perfect. If you can no longer play tennis, perhaps you can take up ping pong. If you can no longer do 18 holes of golf, perhaps you do 9 holes instead. Avoid focusing on what you cannot do and focus on what you can do instead.
- Make use of tools. There are a variety of tools that you can use that may allow you to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Buy a jar opener. Hire the kid down the street to mow the lawn. Let a mechanic work on your car. All your life you have learned to accept that you can do some things and you cannot do others. Know that whatever you are dealing with now is just one of those things. We tend to think that we “should” be able to do ______ (you fill in the blank), but the truth is “should” is just a pathway to guilt and depression. Getting past it is the way to finding peace and a path beyond or around any limitations you may be experiencing.
Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form. ~Andre Maurois
Aging and a Feeling of Uselessness
As you age, you may struggle with a sense that you are no longer important. Often this idea takes people by surprise and leaves them with a sense of loss—everything seems behind them. In reality, it’s a form of depression. Everyone is important. You have something to contribute and there are people who are glad you are here on this earth. You may find doing some of these things are useful in getting past those feelings.
- Get up every day, no later than 9am, and begin your morning routine. That routine may include exercising, showering and having breakfast. Get dressed completely, including your shoes, every morning. No lounging about in a bathrobe.
- Keep a calendar and make plans. Give yourself goals and achieve them whether that is reading the entire James Herriot series, growing a garden, or making a cake. What the goal is, isn’t as important as achieving it.
- Get involved with groups and network with people. You have a lifetime of knowledge and skills to draw upon and are a highly valuable asset to whatever group you decide to join whether that is a book club, your local church, or your favorite charity.
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. ~Sophia Loren
Aging and Loss of Independence
Eventually there may come a time when the passage of years or the deterioration of your health leads to loss of independence. This is when you pull on your wisdom, and you make the call that it is time to take advantage of a few additional tools.
- Accept that there is no shame is asking for help or hiring help. You are still in charge of who will do what and how.
- Go places and do things by asking other people to take you or hire someone to drive you about.
- Take advantage of walkers, ramps, grab bars and other tools that will enhance your mobility and safety. Falls are the number one reason for hospital admissions and the number one reason seniors move to nursing homes.
- Hire a companion to help you with meals, mobility, cleaning and continuing social interaction.
- Talk to your doctor about any changes in your appetite, mobility, cognitive ability, eyesight, hearing, mood, appetite, and regularity as any of these may be influenced by changes in medication, forgetting medication, or a need for a change in your medication. Do not assume it is “old age”.
- Understand that the people you hire to assist you are there because they want to be there. That they love what they do, and they do not see you as feeble. If they treat you with dis-respect, then fire them and find someone else—even if the person you fire is your own family. You need assistance and respect and you deserve to receive them both without exception.
Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. ~Betty Friedan
Fear of Dying
- Make a will. As difficult as this may be for you, while you are doing it, it will help you release thoughts of death and dying and put them away so you can stop thinking about it. Ensure that you consult a professional when preparing your will.
- Choose how much you want spent on your funeral. Explore the options between burial and cremation and set things up how you want them to be. Make sure you consult a professional and get all your questions answered. Taking care of this now will also ensure that your family is not faced with difficult and expensive decisions at a time when they will obviously be distressed.
- Let your family (or friends) know you have taken care of all of these arrangements and where these documents are stored. It might be wise to ensure these documents are legally binding and stored in a way that maintains their legality, as well.
No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else. ~Katharine Graham
Fear of Dying Alone
No one has to die alone who has lived well, loved and been loved. People who love you, friends or family, want to be by your side at the time of death. They want every last moment of possible life with you. If you feel that through your loss of independence or fear of death that you have pushed people away from you, then make amends. There is a lot of forgiveness in everyone’s heart, yours included, if you seek it. If you are afraid of dying alone, then take charge of that fear today by connecting with others.
- Reach out to family and friends by calling or writing. If there is a rift between you and another, do you best for ask for forgiveness and give it.
- Join a church or other organization and get involved with their activities
- Hire a professional caregiver who will help you by providing companionship and can be source for assisting you with getting out more and enjoying the moment.
- Look for activities in your area that are hosted by the library and go to them. You never know who you may meet or what friendships you may develop.
- If you are in a senior community and are known for non-participation in events, don’t let that stop you. People might be surprised when you first show up, but change is part of life and everyone accepts that. It won’t be long before “normal” is you attending events instead of avoiding them.
It comes down to letting people in and allowing them to share your life, and accepting that this is now and that was then. There is no past to return to and no future to worry about. Now is all you have. If you focus on that instead of what might be or what might have been, you have a greater opportunity to achieve peace with your age. Embracing each moment is the surest way of finding the joy in it and life.