Gracefully aging means different things to different people. For some, it is about accepting the increase in age; for others, it is downplaying the condition of aging. More than just appearances, aging gracefully boils down to each person’s perception of this life process. On the one hand, freedom, experience, and wisdom come with age; on the other hand, the physical or mental decline seems to come along with it. So what is aging gracefully, and how can one age gracefully?
It was once thought that graceful aging is about longevity. As the nuances in this life stage are better appreciated, definitions of aging gracefully now take on a more holistic approach. It incorporates the physical, psychological and social domains of a person. Instead of defining it as having no physical, psychological, or social difficulties, it is about enjoying life despite or regardless of these issues. For example, the late Stephen Hawkings lived a good life with rich mental and social experiences, alongside his physical disease, which confined him to a wheelchair. Embracing the inevitable change with a positive attitude is the first step to aging gracefully. Building on this foundation, follow the tips below to address the other three domains.
For Psychological Well-Being
As your psychological health affects your physical and social well-being, being happy and reducing stress will help you live a better life. Your perception of the aging process, where you are in life, and life, in general impacts you. Consider these tips for keeping your mind in peak condition:
- Engage your mind by mentoring, working part-time, or learning a new hobby.
- Exercise your brain with puzzles, reading, and memory games.
- Stay positive by accepting your age, doing things you enjoy, and connecting with your faith. Evidence shows that people with positive attitudes do better overall.
For Physical Well-Being
Although some deterioration is expected with age, it should not affect the quality of your life. You can reduce your risk or manage your symptoms to live a full life:
- Having sufficient hours of good sleep can lower the risks of depression, stroke, and heart diseases and improve focus.
- Visit your healthcare provider for preventative measures such as flu shots or when you are not feeling well; always communicate chronic pain or discomfort.
- Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of chronic illnesses, so stay active and exercise regularly. When in doubt about what exercise to do, seek the advice of your healthcare provider.
- Choose healthy food options like lean meat, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- Stay hydrated and reduce alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks.
For Social Well-Being
Part of social well-being is to feel a sense of belonging, have important people in your life, and feel important to them. On top of immediate family members, maintaining social interaction with others can promote feelings of love and enjoyment, delay cognitive deterioration, and encourage movement.
- Take part in community activities.
- Stay in touch with friends by having meals or doing hobbies together.
- Make new friends by taking a new class or by going online.
- Spend time with your children and grandchildren. In fact, research shows that spending time with your grandchildren improves your lifespan.