Attitude Changes Necessary for Healthy Aging

Many physical changes in seniors are signs of aging (becoming older), not ailing (suffering from illness). Therefore, seniors with healthy attitudes get excited about the physical abilities they still have despite loss of abilities they used to have.

Recognizing the physical decline is the first step; only death will stop it completely. That reality not only inspires contentment in the aging, it also increases their desire to take care of themselves as best as they can. They embrace their limits with the awareness that their body parts will not always function as ably as they feel.

Photo by rudyanderson
Photo by rudyanderson | Source
Fibrous tissues in senior joints are stiffer, less resilient than fibers in younger joints.  Photo by BruceBlaus
Fibrous tissues in senior joints are stiffer, less resilient than fibers in younger joints. Photo by BruceBlaus | Source

Personal Awakening

There was no pain in my body when I started chopping at the branch on my sugar apple tree. However, every action of my arm bringing down the machete on the tree limb jolted the fibrous joint between the arm bone (humerus) and the collar bone (clavicle).

Fibrous tissue gets stiffer with age; it hurts faster. Eventually, I irritated the joint which is far less capable now to endure the pressure it handled 20 years ago. My shoulder pain took me to the doctor.

“Remember to act your age,” he told me. That was not a suggestion to start slowing down, but a reminder to respect my new limits.

Since then, I have read from several other doctors, and consider the following three cautions worthy of sharing. They point out some physical changes and recommend adjustment in three basic areas: activity, nutrition and sleep.


(1) Be Active but Not Excessive

Photo by Deirdre
Photo by Deirdre | Source

Dr. John E. Morley, Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Geriatric Research at the St. Louis VA Medical Center, reminds seniors to remain active, but with caution. Here are some facts he wants the aging to remember:

  • In youth, new muscle fibers develop from exercise; in the senior years, the remaining fibers merely increase in bulk.
  • Exercise increases the size of the heart muscle in younger people, thus increasing the ability of the heart to pump blood and lower the heart rate. Exercise does not affect the size of heart muscle in older people to the same extent.
  • Strength and endurance decrease in older people because there is a decline in the ability of the lungs to move air into the blood stream.
  • There is also a decline in blood flow to the brain which results in a decrease in reaction time. It also affects the sense of balance.
  • Changes in the body’s connective tissue contribute to a decrease in flexibility, which means that the joints—knees and hip, for example—bear greater stress than in the years of youth when they dispersed the pressure to surrounding tissues.

Having mentioned these and other warnings, Dr. Morley advises: “This is no reason, however, for older people to avoid physical activity. . . Almost all studies suggest that active, but not excessive, enjoyment of a variety of sports and exercise can give older people both a better and a longer life.”


(2) Eat Less Food but More Nutrients

Photo by Mattie Hagedorn
Photo by Mattie Hagedorn | Source

Connie Bales, associate director of the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center at Durham VA Medical Center, adds her word of caution concerning nutrition for the aging.

  • Seniors move less, have less muscle and a slower metabolic rate; therefore they need fewer calories.
  • The aging body needs the same amount of protein, vitamins and minerals as previously; so while they eat less they need to include foods like whole-grain, nuts, beans, lean meat, fruits and vegetables which are rich in nutrients.
  • Dr. Bales recommends Vitamin B-12 because after age 50, the body has less stomach acid to break it down from food sources.
  • Aging skin is also less able to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight, which in turn affects the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Since Vitamin D and Calcium are necessary for bone health, it is wise for seniors to visit the nutritionist for personal advice on these and other supplements.
  • Adequate intake of water is a good habit at any age, but older people are less likely to notice thirst. Andrea D’Ambrosio, RD concurs and explains that with a decrease in lean body mass, it is easier for older people to experience hydration, which can adversely affect brain and kidney functions as well as regularity of bowel movements.

Dr Bales vouches that all seniors are not set in their ways. She says, "I've found that most are really motivated about their health, and many of them are quite willing to try to change." That includes a change in focus from eating for growth and development to eating for repair and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.


(3) Get the Same Amount of Sleep (No but)

“One of the challenges to healthy aging” says Dr. Mark Stibich, Healthy Aging Expert, "is troubleshooting sleep to ensure that we are getting enough rest for good health.” He refutes the myth that seniors need less sleep; like all adults they need approximately seven hours. He explains some of the physical changes which may interrupt sleep and makes suggestions for sleep improvement.

  • Aging bodies secrete less melatonin, the hormone which controls the sleep cycle; older people feel sleepy earlier and wake up earlier. Less secretion of the growth hormone also makes deep sleep difficult; and menopausal women experience even more hormonal changes. Professional medical, naturopathic or health fitness consultations may provide help in these situations.
  • Health conditions as well as the medications prescribed for them may interfere with sleep. High blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions may cause breathing difficulties and changes in heart rate; as a result, individuals wake up suddenly. Seniors can discuss these incidents with the doctor and discuss alternative medications and dosages. Their sleep is their responsibility.
  • Dr. Stibich suggests that seniors who have difficulty sleeping may have to change some lifestyle habits: nap for no more than twenty minutes during the day; avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine; and engage in some appropriate exercises. Two hours of sunlight or full-spectrum lighting daily will help.

Image by Mikael Häggström.
Image by Mikael Häggström. | Source

Sleep problems are not to accepted as a part of the aging process. The older the body, the more time it takes to repair injuries which happen during the day, and research shows that some body repair happens during sleep. Additionally, people age 50 and older who get six to nine hours of sleep process information more readily. Seniors will enjoy their days better if they enjoy their nightly rest.


What is Your Attitude toward Aging?

  • I live in fear of physical decline.
  • I will tolerate the decline as part of the process.
  • I will accept the decline and continue to take care of myself.
See results without voting

Conclusion

Show me the senior citizens who appreciate their physical capabilities despite their limits, who focus on eating to maintain their health instead of just satisfying their appetites, who offer their bodies the satisfaction of adequate sleep. These are the seniors who embrace their changes cheerfully and adjust gracefully. They set the standard for healthy aging.


References

Boufis, Christina: How Nutritional Needs Change as You Age, WebMD, (August 2014)

D’Ambrosio, Andrea RD: Top Five Nutrition Changes as We Age, Dietetic Directions (January 2015)

Morley, John E. M.D.: Sports Injuries and the Aging Athlete, Doctor (September 2000)

Stibich, Mark Ph.D.: Sleep and Aging, About Health (December 2014)


© 2015 Dora Isaac Weithers

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64 comments

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 16 months ago from Shelton

golden years is just that golden.. and this hub filled with positves, information.. and tips prove golden and valuable bless you dear one


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, thanks for that very encouraging first comment. Bless you, too.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 16 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Grrr! Bring it on. I am loving these changes, except the joint pain. I have full authority, permission and justification to sleep more. Now that I eat less I can afford better, cooler foods. When I was younger it was self centered and excuses if I did not push, push, push. Now everyone around me wants me to take "me" time to stay healthy.

This wonderful article has great advice and makes me feel real grateful. Thanks.


word55 profile image

word55 16 months ago from Chicago

Great research Dee makes a great hub. I concur with all you said here... Well, the old bat may not swing and hit like it used to but it does still swing and hit. Thank you for such a great read this morning.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

I think I'm handling it okay. There are some things I simply cannot do any longer, so I find new interests. I'm growing old as gracefully as I can. Thanks for the information, Dora. Interesting article.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, thanks for your affirmation. You have a very positive reaction to the changes, a great attitude altogether.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Oh Word, you seem to be ahead the game. "Old bat" doesn't suit you yet. Thanks for your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, new interests are the key. You've got the right attitude. Thanks for sharing.


PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 16 months ago from Fresno CA

Great information, Ms Dora. Thanks for all the advice. I think this explains why the Dr keeps telling me I need to take Vitamin D supplements; because I'm just not getting out in the sun as much and my skin doesn't absorb as much when I do. Not having trouble with sleep yet, thank God.

Blessings,

Denise


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 16 months ago from Central Florida

Attitude is important in everything we do. You've given us good reason to accept the changes we experience as we age by providing a better understanding of the process. I'm definitely not as nimble as I once was, but that's okay - it's part of life.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Paintdrips, glad to offer an explanation you could use. When I lived in Michigan, Vitamin D was my downfall. Best to you, going forward!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Shauna, Youv'e got the right attitude. We'll keep learning as we move forward with this precious gift of aging. Thanks for your feedback.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 16 months ago from Jamaica

Thanks MsDora. A positive attitude is important at every stage of life including late adulthood. I like the suggestions that seniors be active but in moderation, and eat less with more nutrients.


Homeplace Series profile image

Homeplace Series 16 months ago from Hollister, MO

Three great reminders. I work at it each day, with a positive attitude, for sure! Neat hub! Thanks!! ;-)


Carolyn M Fields profile image

Carolyn M Fields 16 months ago from the USA

Loved your hub. I am totally willing to give up a little "flexibility" in exchange for all the life hacks that I have learned over the years. I do things smarter, not harder. Youth is wasted in the young . . . IMHO . . . .


annart profile image

annart 16 months ago from SW England

I do notice things that annoy me, even though I'm not that old (well, not in my mind, anyway!). I do accept that things change and don't work so well but I like to exercise. I walk, I make sure I run with my grandchildren and I push them on swings and roundabouts as hard as I can - not usually enough to get them swinging as high as they want!

I have a rowing machine in the loft which I like to use and I work up from little to lots more, gradually, if I haven't used it for a while.

As you say, we need to be aware that excess is not good.

I also drink lots of water because I like it. I know many who don't but it does depend on the taste of the water in different areas.

This is a marvellous hub, offering lots of information and great advice. It should be compulsive reading for anyone over 55.

Up ++ and sharing.

Ann


whonunuwho profile image

whonunuwho 16 months ago from United States

This was a wonderful article and most informative my friend. Thank you MsDora and blessings. whonu


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 16 months ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

I have a friend whose father is having a hard time accepting his limitations regarding driving a car. You have provided a lot of very useful information. I'll pass it on to my friend.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Doc, glad to hear from you and thanks for your kind feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Doc Bill, happy to know that you're on top of things. You still have a lot more writing to do. Thanks for your feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Carolyn, thanks for your encouragement and your insight. I appreciate you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Ann, those grandchildren will keep you in shape; and you seem to be doing well apart from that. Thank you for sharing.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Whonu, glad you like the article. Blessings on you, too.


BlossomSB profile image

BlossomSB 16 months ago from Victoria, Australia

A very interesting and useful article. One of the problems of growing older is that we all seem to age at different ages. One friend had alzheimer's at sixty, while another is still driving quite proficiently at ninety-five. However, we do need to be aware of our limitations and act accordingly so we are not a danger to ourselves and others.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Cam, thank you for reading and for passing it on. Glad you find the article useful.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Blossom, thank you for sharing that insight. True, our limitations are not ordered by our age, and danger to ourselves is a big concern at every stage.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 16 months ago from Norfolk

MsDora,

Very interesting and useful advice and the perfect excuse for me to be content with my level of activity at the moment and less content with a lack of sleep. Thanks for making me more aware of what I should be aiming for.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 16 months ago from The Beautiful South

I like to think I can do more than I thought I could as I age! Really old people are doing so much today aren't they and I think it is wonderful. We do need to do things to make sure we don't get certain terrible hurdles such as sugar and high cholesterol and all those bad things. After my neck surgery I just feel young again that I don't have to worry about falling and becoming paralyzed! Fear is no way to enjoy life and I hope to be on a smooth road again in life.

Great subject for all your aging friends!!!

^+


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sallybea, thanks for reading even though you're not senior. Glad you found it useful, in a way.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Jackie, happy for you that you feel so well. I think that fear will make individuals behave like they're older than they are. You, my dear, have the right attitude.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 16 months ago from southern USA

Dear MsDora, what a wonderful and insightful hub here. I am now realizing just how important what I feed my body is for a healthier lifestyle, especially after my last doctor's visit. There are some health issues but nothing I can't correct with a more proper diet and exercise. I am glad it was caught in the early stages as my eyes are open to truly taking better care of myself as I get older. It seems our minds think we are still in our 30s when in reality, our bodies are telling us to take better care of ourselves.

Fantastic article and most encouraging on how to accept growing older by learning to make changes in our eating and overall health.

Up and more and away

God bless you


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

Very useful and great information on ageing and how to take care oneself. I try to manage myself by keeping active always. But, I am unable to do any exercise as my schedule is busy with my kitchen work, puja, doing some extra cleansing after the servant leaves and sitting with my computer. My Doctor tells my work is equal to a good exercise and so I need not worry.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Faith, it is true that we really have to care of ourselves as we age. Glad that you are aware of your issues so you can plan your care accordingly. Thanks for your encouragement and your votes.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Venkatachari, listen to your doctor and remain positive. You'd stay on the right track. Thanks for sharing.


Venkatachari M profile image

Venkatachari M 16 months ago from Hyderabad, India

And, Dora, I have shared this post on G+ and also on my facebook page "living better" at url:- facebook.com/life4better so that people can gain from it.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 16 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

The older I get, the more I notice the changes that my body is making due to the aging process. I have learned many of the things that you mention here, eat less but better, drink lots of fluids, exercise in low impact activities, and get a good nights rest. There is much to be said for common sense!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Venkatachari, thank you for sharing. I visited and liked your page. Will visit again.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, thanks for your comment. I agree: it all comes down to common sense. Sometimes we just need more of it.


m abdullah javed profile image

m abdullah javed 16 months ago

Thanks MsDora for the wonderful thoughts on a topic which seldom find our attention. The factors responsible for the physical changes are quite apt viz activeness, nutritious food and sound sleep. Hope it will help the elders attain a younger age if our utmost care coupled with the described prerequisites.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Muhammad, I also hope that it will help those who need it. Thanks for your kind comment.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 16 months ago from North America

Thanks for this revelational Hub! Rated Up and more.

After reaching 50, I have remained thankful for good health and have been fortunate. So far, besides a broken ankle that healed very well, only itchy skin has bugged me - I need to stay hydrated. I also try to do too much in one day, as if I were still that fast food manager of yesteryear who had to work 14 hours and then do all the housework and erands. LOL


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Patty, congratulations on your good health after 50; now keep it that way by giving up the pace of the food manager who was more able than you are now. Thanks for reading and offering your feedback.


mts1098 profile image

mts1098 16 months ago from InsideTheManCave

so so true...MsDora...the youthful mind is limitless while the older mind is wiser in that it listens to the body on what we can and cannot do...cheers


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Mts, I really like your statement; having heard it quite that way before. Thanks you so much for sharing your insight.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 16 months ago from Home Sweet Home

Love your hub. My parents should read this


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Peach, hope your parents do and like it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


newjerusalem profile image

newjerusalem 16 months ago from India

Excellent hub for aging parents. Well described ! Right attitude helps them to face the changes -- as well as challenges.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Victor, thanks for dropping by. Glad you like my article. Learning about aging as I age and glad to share.


Danny Cabaniss profile image

Danny Cabaniss 16 months ago from Shawnee, Oklahoma

Excellent! This is great advice!


Akriti Mattu profile image

Akriti Mattu 16 months ago from Shimla, India

Excellent :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 16 months ago from California

Such great suggestions--I am all about aging well!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Danny. Glad you think well of the article.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Akriti, you made my day with one word. Thank you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 16 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Audrey, I share your interest. Thanks for your feedback.


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 15 months ago

helps understand elders Do


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 15 months ago from New Delhi, India

Great advice and a well written hub!

I am happy that I am following all the important suggestions you have mentioned above as I am not getting any younger!

The sooner we accept the physical changes the better . We should keep ourselves engaged, adopt new hobbies if we are not comfortable doing those activities that we were doing earlier.

Thanks for sharing this helpful hub! Sharing on HP!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 15 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sujaya, glad it helped. Thanks for your comment.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 15 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Chitrangada, thanks for sharing. You also have some very good suggestions.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 14 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Now, if employers will only take these things into account. I work harder than the kids employed there and am expected to work split shifts. My understanding is that everyone is more tired being forced to do this.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Deb, we have to stand up on our own behalf. Employers who treat us well, get more from us, and often we last longer than the young ones.


travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 14 months ago from Bicol, Philippines

Aging gracefully should be the goal of my mother.I'll share this with her.:)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Ireno, eventually that is the goal of all of us. Hope your mother appreciates the article.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 7 months ago from the short journey

What a great look at owning the inevitable and being proactive in making the most out of senior health. Your tips are very useful and the entire hub is a super way to think through a customized personal approach for making the most of an individual's way of life. We know adjustments will have to be made, now is the time to think wisely about them.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 7 months ago from The Caribbean Author

RTalloni, thanks for your feedback. Thinking and preparing now will certainly make future aging easier; we might actually be able to enjoy it.

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