Don’t dread getting older! Several studies have shown that older people tend to be happier and view life more positively. Part of healthy aging is learning to adapt to change while staying involved in your community, exploring new hobbies and staying active. In the words of Mark Twain, “age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” So quit minding, and start using these tips as your guide for healthy aging.
Adapting to Change
Aging brings with it lots of change - while there will be periods of joy, there will also be moments of stress. Coping with all these changes can be difficult, which is why it is important to find healthy ways to deal with and overcome the challenges you must face. Having this skill will come in handy when times are tough.
- Look for a silver lining. Remember “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” Difficult situations are opportunities for personal growth. While it may be hard to see it this way at the time, reflecting on, and learning from our challenges and mistakes will make you that much stronger in the future.
- Focus on things you are grateful for. Stop to take the time to appreciate what you do have, whether it be your friends, family, health or something else.
- Accept what you cannot change. Stressing over things that are out of your control does no one any good – especially you! Instead focus on what you can control, such as the way you handle and react to a situation.
Two of the biggest threats to aging well are loneliness and isolation. Building yourself a network of people you can rely on for company and support is crucial and can make all the difference if you find yourself facing depression, hardship or loss.
- Connect with friends. Make time to spend time with the people who make you happy. Take a walk with your neighbor, schedule a dinner date with a friend, or go to the park with your grandkids. Even if distance separates you from some of your friends, call or email them to stay in touch.
- Volunteer. Not only does it make you feel good, it also helps someone else. It is also a wonderful way to get involved with your community and meet new people who are interested in the same things as you.
- Book some face-time. In this digital age it is easy to stay connected simply through phone or email, but these methods of communication are not a replacement for spending time in the company of others. Spending your days alone is an easy way to become depressed, so try to spend time with at least one person every day.
Learning New Things
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Keeping your brain as active as your body can help prevent cognitive decline and improve memory. Here are some ideas of what you can do:
- Learn a new language
- Solve a crossword
- Learn how to golf
- Complete a puzzle
- Take a different route home
- Brush your teeth with the opposite hand
- Practice your computer skills
- Play a new instrument
As you age, the activities you enjoy may change. The important thing is to find things to do that give you pleasure and enjoyment. Spending time on “you,” is never wasted time. If you are looking for inspiration, we suggest you:
- Resume a long-neglected hobby
- Take a weekend trip to a place you’ve always wanted to visit
- Commune with nature (take a walk, go boating, enjoy a vista)
- See a play, visit a museum, go to a concert – or all of the above!