With approximately 16% of Americans over the age of 65, more people than ever want to know how to age with grace. After all, there’s nothing you can do to keep from getting older, so what can you do to enter your golden years gracefully?
In our youth-obsessed culture, you can’t go through a checkout line without being bombarded with magazines promoting ways to look younger. Dreading each oncoming wrinkle is all too common since there’s much more to aging well than trying to appear young. How to age with grace has nothing to do with trying to look like you’re in your twenties — it’s all about living your best life now, and having the mental and physical health to enjoy it.
Whether you’re currently enjoying your independence or relying on in home care, read on to learn how to age with grace.
Take Special Care of Your Skin
Your skin is the single largest organ your body has, and it plays a much bigger role in your overall health than most people think. If you treat your skin with care, it will protect your body from the elements, help regulate your body temperature, and provide important touch sensation.
Taking care of your skin is not the same as trying every gimmick you can think of to look younger. In fact, that can have the opposite effect, as many treatments that are supposed to improve the skin’s appearance are actually damaging to your skin in the long run. Instead, you should protect your skin by wearing sunscreen and protective clothing whenever you go outside. You should get skin cancer screenings once per year. You should use skincare products to moisturize and protect your skin, and it’s perfectly fine to use anti-aging products, but make sure they’re made with gentle, nourishing ingredients. Finally, you should stay hydrated to keep your skin moisturized from the inside out.
Work Out Regularly
Maybe you’re the kind of person who’s always at the exercise club, or maybe you avoid strenuous activity however you can. But either way, regular exercise goes a long way towards lowing your risk of disease. If you want to know how to age with grace, getting good exercise may be the most important step.
Exercise comes with a myriad of benefits to your health and wellness. It lowers stress and helps you sleep. It boosts your mood and improves your skin and bone health. Perhaps most importantly, it helps you maintain your mobility, and it helps keep conditions like cancer and heart disease away.
Experts recommend that adults participate in between 2.5 and 5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or else 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. You could also use a combination of two to keep things from getting boring. You should also perform moderate to vigorous muscle-strengthening activities involving all the major muscle groups, at least two days per week.
Popular aerobic exercise activities include walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing. Exercises that strengthen the muscles and bones can be performed with weights or resistance bands.
Older adults should place a focus on activities that involve balance training, as well as aerobic and strengthening exercises. Chiropractic adjustment could be helpful as you’re starting out a new exercise program, especially if you haven’t always been very active.
Watch Your Diet
Diet is an important part of elderly care services. Some people use their age as an excuse to eat whatever they want, whenever they want as if their health doesn’t matter anymore now that they’re approaching retirement. But if aging gracefully is important to you, healthy foods are the only way to go.
A healthy diet should consist primarily of fruits and vegetables, either fresh, frozen, or canned. Foods high in lean protein come next on the list, such as fish and beans. You should also strive to eat at least three ounces of whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, or rice each day. Next, you should try for three servings of vitamin D-fortified dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, or milk. Finally, healthy fats are important for maintaining skin and brain health.
Along the way, you should make it a point to avoid solid fats, opting for oils instead when you’re cooking. You should also stay away from refined sugars, unhealthy fats, and heavily-processed foods. Don’t forget to minimize your salt intake so as to keep your blood pressure down.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Perhaps the most critical aspect of learning how to age with grace is your mental health. Lots of people prioritize their physical health, their careers, and their Medicare supplement plans, but in the process, they let things cause stress in their lives, and ignore how they’re feeling from day to day. Being happy and keeping stress at a minimum is critical to living and aging well.
When you’re young and motivated, you don’t pay much attention to whether you feel happy or not, instead focusing most on job accomplishments and milestones. But in your later years, it becomes apparent how important general happiness is. So one thing you should make a priority in your life is keeping your mood elevated. One way to do that is to spend quality time with people you care about. Having healthy, meaningful relationships is key to improving mental and physical wellness, and increasing longevity. This doesn’t just apply to family, friends, and neighbors: even having a pet can contribute to lower stress and blood pressure, as well as reduced loneliness and better moods in general.
A more challenging part of improving your mental health is accepting your age. Depending on your situation, it can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with the fact that you’re getting older. This is especially the case for people who feel like they didn’t accomplish as much as they could have in life, or who feel limited by a setback or disability in some way.
The first thing to recognize is that your life is not over, and as long as you’re alive, there’s still time for you to live meaningfully and well. No matter what your passions are, there’s probably some way you can fulfill them. Next, it’s important to know that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging tend to live longer, and may also recover better from disabilities. Aging is inevitable, but when you know how to age with grace, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
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The main idea here is to do things that you enjoy. Of course, removing things from your life that hold you back or consistently upset you is also important. But generally, the best thing you can do is whatever makes you happiest in the moment: pursue a hobby, volunteer for a worthy cause, or spend time in nature. Whatever brings you joy is worth spending time on.
If you feel you need some extra help, you’re not alone. A mental health therapist or counselor can help you improve your mental health and feelings of wellbeing.
Stay Active Physically
Living a sedentary life is common, but it can also result in an increased risk of chronic illness and early death. We’ve already discussed the importance of exercise when it comes to how to age with grace. But maintaining an active lifestyle, in general, is also helpful, and not just for your health. Things like taking walks, going on hikes, vacationing, and participating in group exercise classes don’t just make you healthier: they also improve your quality of life, from feelings of self-worth and confidence to general happiness.
You can even do some basic chores around your home to keep active. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t be overextending yourself. If you’re not equipped to handle garage door repairs on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.
Keep Your Stress Levels Low
We touched on stress briefly in our section on mental health, but because of its far-reaching impact, it deserves its own section. Countless people at every age deal with unhealthy amounts of stress, and if you want to age gracefully, it’s something you may have to address.
Stress can cause premature aging and wrinkles, and it even contributes to conditions like heart disease. Some ways to target and eliminate stress directly include meditation, yoga, regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep, and talking to a friend regularly. Getting lots of rest and having opportunities to talk to people are both very important for minimizing stress in your life. You may have a chronic situation plaguing your life and causing you stress, such as an abusive relationship. If so, you should consider divorce counseling or relationship therapy to help alleviate stress.
Stop Smoking and Decrease Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol and smoking have both been shown to increase your risk of disease, as well as to cause premature aging. If you smoke or consume unhealthy amounts of alcohol, these are things you should address on your way to learning how to age with grace.
Giving up smoking is never easy, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time, but there are countless resources available to help you do it. If giving up smoking is something you need to do, your doctor is an excellent starting place, as they can give you helpful advice and point you in the right direction.
When it comes to alcohol, you don’t have to give it up completely (although it wouldn’t hurt if you did). Just cut back on your drinking so you aren’t exceeding the recommended amount: one drink per day if you’re a woman, and two drinks per day if you’re a man. Of course, these are based on averages. Consult your doctor if you’re curious about what the best choices for you would be.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Like relationship counseling and dental exams, getting plenty of healthy sleep is integral for maintaining your sense of wellbeing. We’ve mentioned it a couple of times already, because getting enough sleep plays a major role in so many aspects of your life. It even contributes to healthy skin.
Getting sufficient sleep has been found to lower your risk of stroke and heart disease; reduce stress and depression; reduce inflammation; lower your risk of obesity; and enhance focus and concentration. If there’s such a thing as a miracle-treatment, it’s sleep.
The amount of sleep you need depends largely on your age, but it also depends on who you are. Some people simply need more sleep than others, while other people can get away with a lot less. But generally, adults over 18 are advised to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
Pick Up New Hobbies (or Return to Old Ones)
Most people entering old age focus on their health and medical care, such as having the right doctor and eye care provider. But discovering something new to be excited by contributes enormously to feelings of happiness and fulfillment. And re-discovering something you used to enjoy a lot can be even more rewarding, as it’s accompanied by feelings of nostalgia as well as interest. Pursuing new and meaningful hobbies can provide you with a real sense of purpose and direction, keeping you engaged and satisfied throughout the course of your life.
People who regularly engage in leisure activities, social experiences, and hobbies have been found to experience less depression, live longer, and feel happier overall. If you frequently find yourself with time to spare and nothing to fill it with, try exploring some new activities to be engaged with. Maybe you could get quotes from local pool companies to build a swimmer’s paradise in your backyard. The right pastime could be just what you need to figure out how to age with grace.
Chances are you’ve heard about mindfulness from somewhere, as it’s becoming a popular movement. Mindfulness is all about accepting and embracing the present moment, and living in the now by paying attention to your body and surroundings.
Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as paying attention to your breathing, or closing your eyes while you listen to a rippling creek. It’s so simple that you probably wouldn’t suspect that it comes with so many potential health and wellness benefits. Some of them include improved focus, enhanced memory, improved control over your emotions, and even increased immune functioning.
While anyone can practice mindfulness without using any special techniques or taking any classes if you want a more organized approach, you can try guided meditation, yoga or tai chi classes, or even coloring.
Drink Lots of Water
Last in this article on how to age with grace is drinking plenty of water. Too many people go through life mildly dehydrated because they simply don’t realize how important water is to their health. You may drink water when you’re thirsty, but if you’re normally dehydrated, you won’t necessarily feel thirsty when you need water: your body gets used to being dehydrated, and doesn’t signal for more water when it needs it.
If you’re not sure you’ve been getting enough water, a good place to start is drinking eight eight-ounce glasses per day. Your doctor can make a more fine-tuned recommendation for you based on your gender and activity levels.
And there you have it: from now on, you’ll know exactly how to age with grace, and why it’s important to do so.
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