When my little lady with dementia passed away recently, I became flooded with memories of the time we shared together. Betty was a spit-fire with a free spirit that seemed contagious to her friends and family. In as much as she had never remarried after the love of her life divorced her and left her to raise their four children all on her own, she maintained relatively good health and a great attitude, until her mind failed her.
Betty was a social butterfly, and she often went to the local Moose Lodge with her friends. When she lost her driving privileges due to dementia, I was happy to drive her to the grocery, to get her nails done, and to visit a few dear friends she had cared for when she was had been a caregiver.
Betty enjoyed her life as much as she possibly could, and to me, she was the epitome of the phrase “young at heart.” If dementia hadn’t destroyed her mind, I’m sure she would still be going to her monthly class reunions and the Moose Lodge with her friends.
Here, I share 12 ways seniors can stay young at heart and age gracefully, with dignity and independence.
Accept aging and embrace it. If you have made it to senior status, consider yourself blessed! Not everyone gets to live life to their golden years, so the fact you have is a milestone in and of itself. Although, aging may not be inevitable for some, for those of us who are approaching or who have reached this “milestone,” it is normal to notice the changes in our appearance and in our lifestyle. By embracing these changes and adapting to a “new normal,” our physical and mental health will benefit, and we can avert stress and negativity for happier, healthier golden years.
Attitude is everything. This is true for everyone. When you harbor a negative attitude, seeing the worst in everything all the time, the quality of your life will surely be diminished sooner than later. Instead, try choosing to demonstrate a positive attitude each day, and the likelihood you will feel and act younger is significantly increased. Reflecting a consistently positive attitude will deter negative energy and is considered the “primary secret to aging gracefully.”
Activity helps you look and feel younger and healthier. I mention it regularly, and it is scientifically proven, that an active lifestyle helps keep one looking younger and feeling stronger and healthier longer. By moving the body for 20-30 minutes each day – walking, dancing, swimming, weight-lifting, golfing, or participating in yoga, water aerobics, or pilates – one’s metabolism is stimulated and mood is elevated. Active engagement in creative physical activities is good for the overall health of the body, mind and soul.
Adjustments to diet and nutrition may be required. Processed foods may be convenient and easy to prepare, but they can wreak havoc in a senior’s health profile. “One cannot underestimate the power of a well-balanced diet and how good nutrition is as the foundation for healthy living from energy levels and appearance.” Nutritional experts concur, it is vital seniors limit or eliminate processed and fast foods and eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy products to consume the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and nutrients for successful management of weight and health issues for healthier aging.
Adopt a canine or feline companion for unconditional love. It is a proven fact that animals provide emotional support for people of all ages. Seniors who live alone gain even more benefits from pets, because they provide a sense of purpose and a source of motivation to keep them engaged and active. “I once had a dog that walked me twice a day,” a senior friend told me. Dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, whatever stimulates the mind and body to get up in the morning and manage the responsibilities of being a pet owner is mutually beneficial. Pets provide their humans unconditional love and companionship, in exchange for their owner’s love and companionship. There are many health benefits for seniors who own pets, not the least of which is positive mental stimulation to minimize episodes of anxiety, depression and loneliness.
Activities to engage the mind are recommended. You have read it before in my blogs and heard it on the news: it is very important that we keep our minds engaged as we ease into retirement and our golden years in order to age gracefully, with dignity and independence. Interact with others socially by regularly participating in meaningful activities you enjoy. Take an art class or explore education opportunities through classes at one of our fine local colleges. Participate in yoga or water aerobics, or consider joining the YMCA or another local fitness facility. Whatever piques your interest is what you should explore! The key is to find fun activities to keep your mind engaged.
Apply specific beauty tips to gain aesthetic benefits and a confidence boost. We are all outwardly beautiful in our own ways, but sometimes, a little help doesn’t hurt! Age a bit more gracefully by applying a few beauty tips to “reverse the effects of time.” First, use a skin serum with vitamin C on damp skin each morning to hydrate the skin and improve its elasticity and appearance. Second, stay hydrated! Water is crucial to the elasticity and reduction of wrinkles as we age. Third, take care of your tresses by applying a hair mask rich with proteins like keratin to strengthen weak areas of the hair and prevent continued damage. “Similar to skin, hair becomes more fragile and damage-prone as we age, therefore protecting it is essential to looking great.”
Avoid acne, redness and listless skin with daily face-washing. Seniors attempting to age gracefully should wash their face every day with a gentle facial cleanser to remove bacteria, pollutants and other impurities from the skin. Facial cleansing helps exfoliate dead skin cells that can make the skin appear dull and listless. Remember to rinse the skin thoroughly to remove all cleanser and pat the skin dry rather than rubbing with a towel to prevent bags and wrinkles. For senior women who wear makeup, this is especially important.
Adhere to a routine of wearing sunscreen daily. Florida is the Sunshine State for a reason! The sun shines bright the majority of the time, so applying sunscreen regularly, multiple times per day can prevent premature aging of the skin and forms of skin cancer. Sun damage is a leading cause of fine lines and wrinkles, so wearing sunscreen should be part of your daily personal hygiene regiment. Even if you limit time outdoors, it only takes a matter of minutes for skin to burn, and this is especially true for seniors.
Adjust water consumption to drink more and stay hydrated. It has been my experience that seniors do not drink enough water or other beverages to stay hydrated. It is vital that seniors consume at least eight cups of water each day, to stay properly hydrated to maintain skin elasticity as long as possible, keep organs and tissues functioning the way they should, and thwart unhealthy, uncomfortable conditions like urinary tract infections [UTIs], common among seniors. Dehydration has a significant impact on skin aesthetics and contributes to fatigue and dizziness.
Adequate sleep impacts aging and everyday life. It’s common knowledge that most of us don’t get enough sleep. I know this is true in my case! Sleep deprivation can contribute to many chronic illnesses, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and more. It is recommended seniors age 65 and above get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. To help the sleep process, keep the bedroom cool and dark, turn off electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime and avoid watching television when trying to fall asleep. “Experts recommend that patients of all ages get lots of sleep in order to have healthy skin and maintain an independent, active lifestyle into old age.”
Acute and chronic stress contributes to faster, unhealthier aging. Everyone endures stress of some sort, but it is how people deal with stress that matters. Counselors can help seniors sort through difficult, stressful episodes and can advise of healthy ways to cope with stress daily to avoid emotional and physical impacts. Participating in yoga or water aerobics, reading, watching a favorite television show or movie, or taking a walk on the beach can all help reduce stress for healthier aging.
Staying young at heart and aging with grace, dignity and independence is a goal of the majority of seniors. Remember, age is just a number. What counts is how you feel, not how you look!
Home Helpers® can provide compassionate caregivers to provide companionship for seniors living alone and help with personal hygiene and nutritious meal preparation to improve their quality of life with youthful engagement and social opportunities. I am happy to offer a FREE Consultation to match the perfect compassionate caregiver to lift their spirits, brighten boring days, and help keep them feeling young at heart!
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ (727) 240-3059