Living Well As We Age

As we age I often hear talk about our aches and pains, how much medication we are taking and how tired we feel.  We all understand the need for exercise and eating well to maintain a healthy life style.  But are there things we should be considering to help us live our senior years as well as we can?

Medications and treatment have come a long way in your life time. It is easy to get into the mentality of “I don’t feel well so I will go to the doctor and hopefully he/she will have a pill for what is wrong.”  Life styles have become more sedentary. Modern conveniences have made it easy to do less physical exertion. Technology has given us entertainment that we can do from our easy or computer chair. In order to age in a healthy way it is important we look at different dimensions in our lives to see how we can take charge of our health and well-being.

First look at the emotional stress in your life. Managing stress can be a difficult thing. All our lives we have dealt with stress or our emotions in certain ways. Some people see “the glass as half empty and others see it as half full.” Stress can break down our immune system, causing weight gain and giving you an overall ill feeling. When you retire your routine changes and how you deal with the change can have long-term effects. If there is a particular issue causing stress you might try journaling. Writing down ideas, possible solutions to try, or pros and cons of a decision can help bring the problem into perspective. Stress reduction is important in healthy aging.

Staying physically active is a large component of aging in a healthy way.  Exercising regularly helps keep blood pressure down, helps with weight management, helps to keep your bones strong by warding off osteoporosis and gives you a sense of well-being.  Exercising provides release for stress by increasing endorphins which increase your feelings of overall wellbeing.  Walking is a good form of exercise. There are a number of places in Reedley to walk or ride your bike. Joining one of the various gyms or participate in water aerobics at the Wellness Center at Sierra View Homes gives you a place to exercise.

Sleep is important for health and wellbeing?  Sleeping well at night gives us the ability to deal with the issues of the day. If you find you are not sleeping well at night look at your bedtime routine. Do things right before bed that relax you like take a warm bath, read, and listen to relaxing music.

What we eat also makes a difference in how we age. The food that gives the body the fuel to deal with the day is important. Unfortunately most processed easy to fix food is loaded with calories and salt. Food rich in nutrients often take a while to prepare. Thought and preparation are a must in eating a nutricous diet.

Staying alert by keeping your mind sharp is important. Seek out ways to be involved. Being connected to people and tasks you enjoy helps to keep a positive trend of thought. Keep learning and trying new things. It is exciting to be able to accomplish something new.  You might find a talent that has been hidden all these years. Read for knowledge or just for fun. It is important to challenge your mind. Some people enjoy jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles or other types of puzzles. Maybe there is a class at the college that intrigues you. There are many options of things to keep intellectual stimulation going. The challenge in needing to think and to figure things out helps the brain to stay focused and sharp.

Just because you are retired does not mean you don’t have a lot to offer in society. Some retired people look for jobs that will give them a sense of purpose.  Becoming a volunteer with various organizations gives you an opportunity to be productive and make a difference. Volunteer jobs can be found in helping organizations, schools, retirement communities and churches to name a few. Look for jobs doing things you are interested in. Part-time jobs give a sense of structure and yet some flexibility of time you may have been looking for as you retired.  When you feel like you can contribute and make a difference you feel able to deal with the stresses of the day.

Maintaining friendships gives a sense of belonging.  Getting out of the house, being socially connected with others keeps us feeling part of the greater community. Staying home and watching television can cause feelings of isolation. There are a number of different groups throughout Reedley who get together for coffee at various places.  Some friends go for walks together, or just get together to sit and visit. Maintaining friendships helps when life gets tough. Giving and receiving friendship helps give quality in our lives.

Believing in something greater than ourselves gives you another avenue for learning and being involved.  Meditation and worship help to bring peace and purpose in a time of many distractions.   Allowing time to enjoy nature, to take the time to watch the changing seasons and to be aware of the birds or animals around us gives a sense there is something greater than we are.

Working at these dimensions gives all of us ways to enjoy the “golden years.”  When you retire and move into a new schedule of life. Being involved with social groups, be a part of a spiritual group, participate in something you are interested in, keep learning, take care of yourself, and most importantly keep moving. Follow these simple directions and you will lead a healthier life.