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Myth Busters & Aging Well

Let’s begin by separating the true from the false

Myth: Aging means declining health and/or disability.

Fact: There are some diseases that become more common as we age. However, getting older does not automatically mean poor health or that you will be confined to a walker or wheelchair. Plenty of older adults enjoy vigorous health, often better than many younger people. Preventive measures like healthy eating, exercising, and managing stress can help reduce the risk of chronic disease or injuries later in life.

Myth: Memory loss is an inevitable part of aging.

Fact: As you age, you may eventually notice you don’t remember things as easily as in the past, or memories may start to take a little longer to retrieve. However, significant memory loss is not an inevitable result of aging. Brain training and learning new skills can be done at any age and there are many things you can do to keep your memory sharp. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.

Myth: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Fact: One of the more damaging myths of aging is that after a certain age, you just won’t be able to try anything new or contribute to things anymore. The opposite is true. Middle aged and older adults are just as capable of learning new things and thriving in new environments, plus they have the wisdom that comes with life experience. If you believe in and have confidence in yourself, you are setting up a positive environment for change no matter what your age.

A key ingredient in the recipe for healthy aging is the continuing ability to find meaning and joy in life.

As you age, your life will change and you will gradually lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. For example, your job may change, you may eventually retire from your career, your children may leave home, or other friends and family may move far away. But this is not a time to stop moving forward. Later life can be a time of exciting new adventures if you let it.

Everyone has different ways of experiencing meaning and joy, and the activities you enjoy may change over time. If your career slows down or you retire, or if your children leave home, you may find you have more time to enjoy activities outside of work and immediate family. Either way, taking time to nourish your spirit is never wasted.

If you’re not sure where to get started, try some of the following suggestions:

Pick up a long-neglected hobby or try a new hobby. Taking a class or joining a club or sports team is a great way to pursue a hobby and expand your social network at the same time.

Learn something new, such as an instrument, a foreign language, a new game, or a new sport. Learning new activities not only adds meaning and joy to life, but can also help to maintain your brain health and prevent mental decline.

Get involved in your community. Try attending a local event or volunteering for a cause that’s important to you. The meaning and purpose you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life. Community work can also be a great way of utilizing and passing on the skills you honed in your career—without the commitment or stress of regular employment.

Travel somewhere new or go on a weekend trip to a place you’ve never visited

Spend time in nature. Take a scenic hike, go fishing or camping, enjoy a ski trip, or walk a dog in the park.

Enjoy the arts. Visit a museum, go to a concert or a play, join a book group, or take an art appreciation class.

Write your memoirs or a play about your life experiences

The possibilities are endless. The important thing is to find activities that are both meaningful and enjoyable for you.

This article is based on excerpts from Help Guide

 

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