IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AGING SUCCESSFULLY
We are all aging, whether we like it or not. We think about aging. We talk about aging. We worry about getting older. Society often puts a negative spin on getting older. Changing our view and thinking positive can put us on the road to successful aging.
What used to be extremely rare is now becoming more common as the number of people living to be 100 continues to grow. Centenarians are remarkably happy and healthy, with the real possibility of aging successfully.
Every day in the United States more than 200 people reach 100 years old. That was rare in the 1900s. Four out of five of those living to 100 are women. People are living longer because they are taking better care of themselves and due to advancements in science and medicine.
Some positive aspects of successful aging can include:
1. Having good health with low risk of disease and disability.
2. Enjoying good mental health and physicial functioning.
3. Being activiely engaged with life, open to new ideas.
There is a tendency to group all older people into one box. There are many myths that perpetuate this belief. The view that all older people are sick, frail, weak, or alone. That they are unable to learn new things. Older people are often viewed as being unproductive and a burden on society. Many public figures accomplished great things later in life. But remember not all accomplishments have to equal the magnitude of the individuals listed below. Success can be met with achievements both large and small.
1. Grandma Moses took up painting in her late 70s.
2. Ruth Rothfarb ran her first marathon at 80.
3. Pablo Casals gave cello concerts into his 90s.
4. Picasso painted in his 90s.
5. Angela Lansbury took a role on Broadway at 83.
6. Betty White is in her 90s and still does TV and commercials.
When asked, older adults felt that successful aging included resilience, (the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of hardships), optimism (being able to recognize both the good and bad in a situation) and the absence of depression.
Some tips to successful aging include:
1. STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE. Exercising should be based on your age. You should consult with your physician and/or professional trainer before starting any exercise program.
2. EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN. Read, do puzzles, learn something new.
3. KEEP A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE including eating well, getting enough sleep.
4. FOCUS ON POSITIVE FEELINGS. Good feelings help your mental health and body health.
5. DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF. Worry creates negative feelings. Focus on what really matters.
Successful aging can be learned. Look to those that you know, have heard or read about to use as a role model. One of the most important aspects is to acknowledge and accept aging as a new stage of growth.
Judith Glick, LCSW