Why You Should Develop a Positive Attitude Toward Aging
How do you feel about growing older? For some people, the idea is quite scary and even depressing. After all, our society values youth and vitality, and we’re always looking for ways to stave off the aging process or appear as young as possible. But there’s no reason that growing older has to be an uncomfortable process or one that we should fight. In fact, growing older can be a wonderful thing with many benefits.
“Think of it this way: it’s a blessing to be able to grow old,” says Allison Yancey, Executive Director of Residences at Wellpoint, an Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Huntsville, Alabama. “Not everybody gets that opportunity, and so embracing aging as a positive thing will greatly improve your quality of life, help you age better and allow you to fill your golden years with grace, happiness and fulfillment.”
Allison says that the ability to “age gracefully” – also known as positive aging – can help you live longer, happier, and healthier. “People who look at aging as a process to enjoy, not to dread, are better able to weather changes in their lives, both good and bad,” she says. “We all know those individuals who seem decades younger than their physical age, and a lot of it has to do with their positivity, outlook, and attitude towards life. Conversely, we’ve also met a lot of people who seem older than their physical age, and oftentimes they’re pretty pessimistic.”
It’s not uncommon to have a negative view of aging, as ageism can be a very real problem in today’s society. In 2016, World Values Survey (WVS) asked over 83,000 people of all age groups in 57 countries about their feelings on aging and found that 60 percent of respondents said they didn’t think older people were respected. This isn’t just demoralizing for seniors; it’s also highly detrimental. A 2002 study by psychology researchers in Yale University’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health determined that age discrimination actually has the potential power to shorten seniors’ lives.
“Yes, getting older is no picnic at times. However, there are many aspects of the aging process that are within our control,” Allison says. “Taking the good with the bad and improving the things in life we can control will help us make better choices, have a more positive outlook, and improve our lives to the fullest as we age.”
5 Reasons Why Aging Is a Positive Thing
We can hear some of you saying, “what’s so great about getting old?” Aging indeed comes with challenges, but there are lots of benefits to getting older and living longer, including:
- You understand your priorities. Throughout our lives, we may have been chasing a variety of different things – career success, financial stability, growing families – all of which can cause us to compare ourselves unfavorably to others and think about what we don’t have. As we get older, we learn the value of what we have and stop comparing ourselves as much to others. This allows us to get our priorities – our actual priorities, not the ones we think are important – in place. This allows us to truly enjoy life in the moment and for everything it brings.
- You’re more confident. Every year you live gives you more experience and more confidence in living well. Once you reach seniorhood, you’ve seen a lot, experienced a lot, and overcome a lot. This gives you a wealth of experience to guide you in your golden years and allows you to better face whatever life throws your way.
- You’re wiser. Years of experience also means years of wisdom. When faced with a problem, older adults are more than likely able to make calm and rational decisions instead of worrying about what to do. Years of experience – and wisdom – will do that to you.
- You care less about what others think of you. Worrying about what others think of you is exhausting, isn’t it? It can also result in us acting in ways that are contrary to our true nature to “fit in” or find acceptance. As we get older, we realize that it doesn’t matter what others think of us, so we can act by our true selves. It’s a lot less energy that way – and a lot more fun!
- You gain the gift of growing old. Not everyone gets to grow old. If you find yourself feeling grumpy about having another birthday, remind yourself that every day is a gift that you can make the most of. When you start looking at aging this way, you’ll begin noticing a lot of positive aspects of the situation.
Tips for Practicing Positive Aging
Get regular physical activity. Being mindful of your fitness level is an essential part of positive aging. For people aged 65 and older, experts recommend 30 minutes a day, five days a week of moderate exercise. This can be a brisk walk, bicycling, playing basketball, gardening, dancing – whatever inspires you and is something you can see yourself committing to. If you don’t currently have an exercise routine, start slow. You can even break those 30 minutes up into chunks and work yourself up from there. Besides helping you stay strong and maintain a healthy weight, exercise boosts your immune system, improves your mood, and reduces stress.
Stay social. Researchers have found that there is a very large link between social networks and longevity in seniors. It’s vital to make and maintain meaningful relationships as you age. Some ways to do this include picking up a new hobby, volunteering, or starting a club. One of the many reasons why many older adults move to senior living communities is so that they can take advantage of the “instant friendships” and connections available.
Spend time with family. Family members are some of our most important social connections. Experts who have researched some of the world’s longest-lived communities found that family members tend to live with or near their aging parents and grandparents. Being around people who we love and who love us provide meaning and fulfillment, which are a key indicator of living well and healthy aging.
Find your purpose. It’s been shown that having a sense of purpose – no matter how large or small – can increase your life expectancy by seven years. Older adults who have a sense of purpose are continuing to learn, stretch, and be engaged in the world around them.
Reduce your stress. Being able to relieve and cope with stress helps keep our bodies healthy, our minds clear and our lives better. Stress can bring on a wide variety of physical and mental ailments, so it’s important to seek out lifestyles that are as stress-free as possible. Some effective ways to manage stress are exercise, positive thinking, deep breathing, meditation, and others.
We can’t stop the aging process, but we can control how we react to it. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that attitude is everything. As Jack Benny once famously said: “Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” The more we view aging as a positive process to enjoy, the better, healthier, and happier we will all be.
For those of you who may struggle with maintaining optimism about the aging process, you’re certainly not alone. But by reframing your thoughts on growing older and focusing on Dr. Diehl’s healthy suggestions, you can improve your mindset, and hopefully, following your example, society’s views about aging also will evolve for the better.
Where It All Comes Together
At Residences at Wellpoint, we provide an exceptional experience for those who desire Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care in the Huntsville area. As part of the broader Wellpoint Community “campus,” we cultivate an engaged, intergenerational community unlike any other. Here, we celebrate well-being with an array of social programs; innovative, on-site medical technology; a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle and so much more.
Here, our residents enjoy complete freedom of choice as well as the ability to plan their days however they choose. This is because we take the tedious routines of everyday life off your hands so that you can enjoy your life any way you wish. Go on an outing, enjoy the community, get fit in the fitness center, enjoy our dining bistro or shoot a game of pool in the sports/billiards bar. It’s all waiting for you.
No matter what your needs are, we can meet them. Our lifestyle philosophy supports every need along your journey, whether you desire Independent Living, need the assistance of our Assisted Living program, or begin to need Memory Care. However your needs may change, we offer on-site medical assistance and supportive services so you can continue enjoying the engaging lifestyle you love. Contact us to learn more!
Call us at 256.274.5312 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.