There are a number of myths regarding aging. Some people may mistakenly believe that aging inevitably involves getting sick or disabled, while others may think that all adults face memory loss in their later years. Even more people may think that once you reach a certain age, there is less that you can contribute to society and that you are done learning. All of these beliefs are absolutely false. In fact, many people find that the years following retirement are filled with health, vitality, and meaning. Since we are all going to get to those golden years eventually, here are a few tips to consider that may help to make that stage of life some of the best years you’ll ever have.
1- Keep your mind sharp
Your mind is like any muscle in your body; the more you exercise it, the stronger it will be. In earlier years, it may have been easy to keep your mind active while problem-solving at work or at home, but as you age, though, you may need to plan specific activities to engage the mind. Some of the best ways to exercise the mind is by learning a new skill or hobby. Consider learning a foreign language. If you’ve always regretted never learning to play the piano, take a class. Reading is also a great way to keep the mind growing and learning, so either join or form a book club in your area to allow yourself the opportunity to discuss ideas and thoughts regarding the books you are reading.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to give your life meaning and purpose. As you help others, you can feel a greater gratitude for the things that you have and a greater connection to the people around you. No matter where you live, there are sure to be boundless volunteer opportunities. Visit a local elementary school for opportunities to reach out to the children in your community and help them to learn and succeed. Local government and nonprofit agencies are also often in great need of help. Contact hospitals in your area for more ideas on how you can serve.
3- Eat well
A body needs proper fuel to remain strong and active. As you age, your digestive system tends to slow down, and as a result, foods that are high in fiber are of special importance. At the same time, older adults are more susceptible to dehydration, so it is important that you drink a lot of water every day. In addition, don’t let meal times become boring or lonely—make an effort to make your food look and taste good even if you are only cooking for one or two. Seek out other adults to spend meal time with so that you can enjoy social interaction while you are enjoying your food.
4- Stay in touch with loved ones and friends
For some, aging equals loneliness and isolation. As children leave home and move away, you leave the workforce and the relationships you built there, and friends and loved ones pass away, it may become easy to feel lost or forgotten. It is vital that you continue to stay in touch with those you care about—your role in their lives may be different, but it can be equally important. Learn to use technology to stay connected. Spend time emailing friends, children, and grandchildren. Resurrect the lost art of letter-writing by regularly writing to loved ones who have moved away.
Even if you have never participated in regular exercise, it’s never too late to start. Before beginning a new exercise program, however, it is important that you get your doctor’s permission. After visiting with your doctor, find some form of activity that interests you and that you like to participate in. Look for health clubs that have classes especially for older adults. Exercising does not have to be overly strenuous either; going for a brisk walk every day could be a great way to stay healthy and active.
6- Stay Positive
So much of how we feel is dependent upon our thoughts. Sometimes the best way to fight discouragement and loneliness is by reminding yourself of all of the things that you have to be grateful for every day. Moreover, try to find something to laugh about as you go about your day. If you find yourself facing severe discouragement or depression, seek out professional help right away to assess whether or not you may be facing senior depression.
The possibilities and adventures that await as you enter your golden years are endless. Seek out new experiences and enjoy the opportunities that you never had time to pursue before. By doing so, you can make the later years of your life some of the most exciting, meaningful years of you have ever experienced.
SEE ALSO: Growing Old DisgracefullyFeatured photo credit: hand of a senior man holding a cane via Shutterstock