When we’re young and healthy, we rarely think about what the future may bring. We don’t always live our best lives when we’re young and carefree. As a result, years pass us by, and we suddenly realize that it’s too late to fix some mistakes. If you want to enjoy aging and to ensure your quality of life, start looking ahead and take the necessary steps as soon as possible.
Most people think of aging as something dreadful. They imagine themselves being old, weak, and ill; and as a result, aging seems like a nightmare.
We can understand where this stigma comes from, as aging does accompany some serious downsides and misconceptions.
However, some people are more scared of myths about aging than the aging process itself. Here are some of those common myths and the undeniable truths behind them:
1. Aging = Disability
When most people imagine being old, they typically envision walkers, wheelchairs, and IV bags. However, becoming older doesn’t automatically equate to poor health and disability by default. Look at the amazing icons over 50 and glowing like J Lo or Kylie Minogue!
In reality, many older adults enjoy great health, as long as they take care of both their physical and mental well-being. If you start taking preventive measures now, you’ll decrease the risks of injuries and chronic diseases as you age.
2. Aging = Dementia
Thanks to the media, people erroneously believe that every other older adult has dementia. However, according to research, that number is significantly lower. In fact, studies show that only 5–8% of people aged 60 and over develop dementia (Krista Hillis n.d.).
That means that you probably won’t experience memory loss as you age. Sure, you may notice that you don’t remember things as quickly or easily as you when you were younger, but we have good news: you can fight memory loss by training your brain, eating healthily, and keeping your memory sharp. Blueberry smoothies and puzzles, anyone?
3. Aging = Being Less
One of the biggest traps of aging is the fallacy that you’re not what you used to be or that you’re weaker, less important. You’re not a used car or pair of shoes, so you still have talents to you, contributions to give, and tons to live for and celebrate!
Don’t let yourself think of getting older as of becoming something less than what you were formerly. Take a step back and change your perspective. Wine only gets better with age, doesn’t it? A mighty oak was once just a young sapling. And of course, wisdom doesn’t come to us all at once; we become wiser as we grow older and experience more of what life has to give.
Every person has value, regardless of one’s age. You are as important and as strong as you believe yourself to be. As you age, it might seem like there are fewer activities for you, but go beyond the surface, and you’ll see that it isn’t so. Zumba, rafting, or painting classes, anyone?
Getting old doesn’t have to be your greatest fear. There are steps to ensure you remain your best self even as you age.
Here’s how you can ensure the quality of life as you age:
* Move and Groove: Exercise on a Regular Basis
According to scientific research and numerous studies, exercise is the most important intervention to add extra years to your life. The Journal of Aging Research published an article that all-cause mortality decreased by almost “35% in people who are physically active when compared to those who are inactive.” (Reimers, Knapp & Reimers 2012) Bike, walk, job, dance, or swim your way to wellness!
Regular exercise helps you to maintain agility and strength. It improves your sleep, increases vitality, and even sustains your mental health. No one is urging you need to be a gym rat. Just find an activity that you like and try to do it at least every other day. Golfing, yoga, exercise classes — any option that makes you move is great!
* Social Butterfly: Be Socially Active
Whether you know it or not, your friends and family are your support network. Spread those beautiful wings and keep in touch with them to boost your health. Staying socially active is the second most important tip as you age. Having people for support and company enables you to fight depression, loneliness, and loss. Handle stress, money matters, disabilities and hardships of life when you connect with your cocoon!
According to a study that involved over 300,000 people, adults with a solid social support system exhibited a 50% longevity boost compared to those without. It seems that keeping in touch is more vital to your health than beating obesity and quitting unhealthy habits. When will you plan your next coffee club date?
* Life Is a Highway: Don’t Let Life Pass You By
As you age, you’ll lose some of the things that give you joy, purpose, and occupy your time. You’ll change your job or retire, your children will move away, as will some of your friends. However, there’s no excuse to become passive. Adventures await, regardless of your age; you just need to take the driver’s seat. Rascal Flatts urged us that “life is a highway,” so hit the pedal to the medal!
Choose a hobby, learn something new and interesting, travel, spend time in nature, write about your life, get involved in your local community, enjoy the finer things in life. Don’t just sit in front of a TV, waiting for life to happen.
* Stealth Health: Regular Visits to the Doctor’s Office Are a Must
Regardless of how old you are, you need to go in for regular check-ups. As you age, those check-ups might become more frequent. Yet the better you treat your body, the better it will serve you. Be stealth for health and take care of yourself!
So don’t avoid visits to your doctor, dentist, optometrist, or cardiologist. Take every medication they prescribe, ask for supplements that might help you, and consult them when you’re planning lifestyle changes that might affect your health.
* Mental Matters: Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
Aging can make reflexes slower, memory poorer, and senses duller. As our brain cells age, they become damaged, which may hinder our mental health. However, if you train your brain, you can prevent or lessen some of aging’s effects. Try doing something new each day, solve puzzles, engage in a new sport, play a challenging game, learn to cook new recipes, or start learning new skills. Spanish class, anyone?
Find a way to express your feelings in a healthy manner, handle stress properly, and mindful tools to overcome challenges. Mental health isn’t only about keeping your mind sharp but also about making sure you’re living a happy life. Remember, mental matters!
* Dermatological Diva or Dude: Protect Your Skin
People are vain, just like the famous Carly Simon song. Although wrinkles don’t affect our physical health in a negative way, they can shatter our self-confidence.
Skin loses elasticity as the years progress, which means wrinkles, lines, and sags are inevitable. However, protect yourself from sun damage, refrain from smoking, and lower environmental exposure to nurture the skin you’re in!
If you want to keep feeling good in your skin for longer, use sunscreen, moisturize, ingest antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin E and C, and get enough sleep and exercise.
* Heart Smart: Take Care of Your Heart
Unfortunately, our hearts aren’t age-resistant. Your heart rate may slow down as you age, heart walls may become thicker, or the heart itself may become enlarged. However, with a healthy diet and proper exercise, your heart will beat much longer. If you also stop smoking and learn healthy stress-coping mechanisms, you can be heart smart!
* Take Care of Your Bones
As we age, our bones become more brittle and thinner, which can even lead to osteoporosis. Any fall can possibly result in broken bones. Think of Christie Brinkley’s recent DWTS accident!
In order to prevent this, talk to your physician and determine if a dietary change, use of supplements such as vitamin D and calcium, prescription medication, or exercise can safeguard your bone health.
If you start exercising in time, you will be able to strengthen your muscles and reverse the bone loss from aging (Santos, Elliott-Sale & Sale 2017).
* Gutsy Guys and Gals: Commit to a Healthier Diet
The digestive tract becomes increasingly rigid with age. Like a red traffic light, aging halts our metabolism, and even food preferences shift. As a result, we develop more problems with constipation, nausea, and stomach pain as we age.
However, if you adjust your diet and start eating right by avoiding sugary foods full of refined carbs and replace them with high-fiber foods, you can prevent many of these problems. With a proper diet, you’ll feel more energetic and healthier overall. Come on, be a gutsy guy or gal and strive for gut health!
* Don’t Let Age Kill Your Sex Life
After menopause, many women experience a loss of vaginal lubrication. As men age, they may experience erectile dysfunction. However, don’t let these changes derail your sex life.
You can be sexually active for as long as you wish. Plus, sexuality is an important component of our lives – it lowers blood pressure, burns calories, increases heart health, and strengthens muscles.
* Say Cheese: Pay Attention to Your Oral Health
Visit a dentist twice a year to make sure to avoid age-related issues like gum disease, dry mouth, and enamel damage. Brushing regularly, flossing, drinking milk, and taking calcium supplements can protect your teeth as you age. Say cheese!
* Flex Time: Adapt to Change
Most importantly, flex and emulate Gumby as you age. Let’s learn to go with the flow and adjust to new life challenges. If you learn that you can’t eat certain foods anymore, or that you have to start avoiding certain activities, try to embrace the change and savor something new that brings you pleasure. Refocus your energy on this flex time in your next chapters!
Fountain of Youth: Bottom Line
Now that you know that myths about aging aren’t true and you have control and autonomy over many aspects of aging, let this article empower you to embrace the fountain of youth for holistic health and happiness as we age. Plus, if you take our advice, you can keep shining into your golden years and be the star that you are!