Healthy Aging: Our Aging Attitude is Out of Date!
The common attitude of aging in our society leads us to view it with contempt and resistance. We often try to desperately try to outwit it and reverse it, because we hold in our minds the image of inevitable decline with age.
Fact: Our bodies, minds, skin, and organ function will change… and we will continue to share with you this week ideas for healthy aging lifestyles, and to help you understand the specific needs of our bodies have as they age - all of which can help our bodies age optimally.
But what I think we often miss in our healthy aging crusade is addressing our attitude and outlook of the aging process!
For instance, what if we take seriously the very realistic and ideal image of what aging can look like?
Take Canadian Olga Kotelko, who was 95 years old when she held the record for
oldest recorded female sprinter, high, long, and triple jumper at the World Masters Athletics Champions.
No big! She sees herself as just a plain Jane which is shockingly impressive.
1. Try an alternate activity.
When we are unable to do an exercise that we did before, don’t fall into the idea of stopping exercising all together. This happens to so many people, “I used to do martial arts, but then I got injured.” With age, our physical bodies change, and there’s no denying it.
But instead of assuming that exercise and aging do not get along, be fluid, adaptive and find something else. If you’ve become aware that it is not beneficial for you body to do martial arts anymore, then try tai chi!
For many years, I called myself a runner. I loved it, and that was my favorite way to stay fit. But then my knees started to hurt from the impact. Instead of stopping exercise altogether, I found an alternative - biking! I've learned to love this as much if not more than running as it lets me explore more places, faster.
Find ways to adapt and stay active!
2. Change the way you perceive retirement.
Our attitude on retirement can also contribute to deterioration in the quality of life for older adults. This is because we often don’t think of specific plans and goals we want to continue to achieve once we are no longer busy with our careers. This is the danger – losing a sense of purpose and drive to accomplish goals, not matter what they may be. Nobody says we’re supposed to stop achieving at a certain age!
Retirement merely means to leave that particular job, it does not mean to stop doing anything else!
Olga, with 750 gold medals, and 30 world records under her name says, “I just want to keep going until I drop. I guess that’s when I’ll have to stop.” (she passed at 96).
Clearly there are no limits with age and what we can do, exercise is just one example.
The mentality that staying active, motivated for a healthy lifestyle, and feeling purposeful is not something that only those living in Blue Zones (rare longevity hotspots around the world) are privileged with, but something that we can all adopt throughout our lives.
Our ideas of chronic diseases, and physical deterioration do not have to go hand in hand with aging! Let's weaken those associations and strengthen others like staying active, being valued for accomplishments, and being part of a fun and supportive community!
Learn more about healthy aging by staying tuned in this month's series, and by checking out this pretty cool / interesting read on the Canadian vision for healthy aging here!
Healthy aging in Canada: a new vision, vital investment. Retrieved from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/seniors-aines/alt-formats/pdf/publications/public/healthy-sante/vision/vision-eng.pdf
Photo by Daniel Páscoa on Unsplash
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash