Healthy Aging on the Journey of Life
Good health and a positive attitude--keys to quality of life in later years
Lifestyle When Younger Affects Your Golden Years
The years seem to overtake us while we aren't paying attention.
This journey called Life began for each of us with a newborn baby's cry--our own 'debut' wail at the world in which we'd arrived.The years dragged by so slowly when we were children eager to grow up. Suddenly we were young adults, and life stretched before us endlessly. There were so many choices to make and adventures to pursue. We felt invincible. Doesn't every twenty-something think life will glide on like that forever?
Was it overnight we became middle-aged? It seemed that way. When did those first strands of gray hair begin to appear? Now we reach the autumn of our years and, for some of us, the pace may be slowing. How we lived during the earlier parts of our journey will likely influence this stage.
Some of us are retired; others keep working for the satisfaction, income or both. However we spend this time, these are our "Golden Years." Good health, staying active and maintaining a positive attitude can help us enjoy them to the fullest.
If I could only be again
the girl who once was Me
with youthful air of innocence
and laugh of gaiety
If I could just retrace my steps
to the place I was back then
and have the chance to alter
the way my life has been
Would I do other than I’ve done,
a wiser pathway go
to realize all ambitions?
Alas! I’ll never know!
Stay active to maintain body strength: "Use it or lose it."
At this point in our lives, can we reverse damage already done by poor health choices we made along the way, or are we to suffer the consequences as we age?
Much of the health information responsible for increased life expectancy and quality of life was not available when I was young or even middle-aged. Misinformation and controversy about the route to good health abounded, and the guidelines kept changing like fast cars switching lanes on a freeway. I lacked knowledge of what constituted a healthy diet and why it was important. For a half-century, much of what I consumed was unhealthy. Now I choose organic, unprocessed foods and eat as nutritious a diet as possible.
I knew exercise was necessary for fitness, but only recently was its importance to the brain, as well as the physical body, discovered. My lifestyle has been too sedentary, and an accident left me with physical challenges that now prevent the long walks I would enjoy. Aqua therapy and yoga to the rescue! Muscles that aren't used will atrophy, losing strength as well as tone. Chair yoga and exercises that can be done with resistance bands while seated can help even those with mobility issues. The key is consistency in regularly practicing those movements you can do.
Environmental toxins? Prescription drugs side effects? Stress overload and insomnia? I was ignorant of their dangers until a couple of years ago. Now I’m a convert to the holistic approach to good health. More doctors are encouraging the prevention of disease instead of waiting for their patients to need a cure, and that's a step in the right direction. If your primary care doctor tends to rely totally on drug prescriptions for every health issue, it may be time to search for a physician who combines traditional and alternative healthcare.
Chronic stress can cause or increase many health problems, so managing stress effectively is critical. Mindful meditation can greatly benefit seniors both physically and psychologically, enhancing a sense of calm, improving sleep, fighting depression, and even reducing pain.
I now practice healthy habits every day, believing that even a small improvement is better than none. Some things I can control; others, I cannot. However, I’d be foolish to ignore any factor that I can influence to promote better health.
Appreciate life's little pleasures to find contentment.
Pets can be "preventive medicine" for senior citizens!
I enjoy seeing an elderly couple holding hands or showing affection for each other. He takes her arm protectively as they walk up steps. She reaches out and straightens the edge of his collar. For them it's still very much, "You and me against the world, babe." Young people wrongly think they cornered the market on love and romance. How, then, do they account for those happy unions that last decades with the love of the couple for each other--even in very old age--quite obvious to onlookers?
Research indicates that a happy marriage is actually good for one's health. A strong union (and the key word is "strong") promotes a healthy immune system. Perhaps it's because happy couples do look out for each other. As individuals, they tend to take better care of themselves for their partner's sake. This seems to hold true for other committed long-term relationships as well.
Of course, single people can also reap these benefits if they remain socially active and have a good support system of family and friends. And if they get lots of hugs. Everyone needs hugs. Remember that, and act accordingly.