The physical and mental changes that come along with getting older can be scary and stressful to deal with. Feeling different in your own body can be a nightmare.
A lot of this fear and stress is due to a fear of loss – a loss of energy and vitality, a loss of your physical ability, a loss of mental strength, of friends family members, and the life you’ve come to know. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case! There are ways to delay and prevent certain changes, and also ways to come with them and feel okay when they do eventually come.
A healthy you
As you grow older, it’s important to become aware of your body changing and potentially requiring more of your attention. Advancing in age can mean a weaker immunity and becoming more susceptible to illness and injury.
Taking care to regularly attend doctor’s check-ups and dentists visits for blood pressure checks, diabetes screening, mammograms and other important tests. You should even get your eyes and hearing tested every so often. Going for tests and screening can help you to identify any potential issues early on and even prevent them in some cases.
Further, since you may grow more susceptible to falling, you don’t want to take any risks. Installing one of the best medical alert systems in your home can help give you peace of mind due to their fall detection and alerts.
Nutrition building blocks
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet becomes even more important as you get older. The World Health Organisation has suggested that malnutrition is a common problem in people over the age of 65, which means that focusing on your nutrition should be a priority.
Try to focus on including enough whole foods like fruits, vegetables and high-fibre, wholewheat grains. A diet high in lean protein will also help to keep you sustained and prevent weakness in your muscles. If you’ve been recommended any supplements, be sure to take them daily and consume enough water too.
Taking care of your body by monitoring what you put in it will help you feel young, energised and ready to move for years to come.
Let’s get physical
If you’ve had an active lifestyle, getting older doesn’t mean you need to stop. And if you haven’t ever been much of an exerciser, there’s no stopping you if you’re already over 60. As a matter of fact, keeping your body moving might be more important now than ever.
Regular exercise can help with your blood pressure levels and boost your immune system, it’s healthy for your bone density and muscles and can even help you sleep better and be in a better mood. What’s not to love?
Have a talk to your health provider to find out what type of exercise they think would be best for you. You might start walking, swimming, stretching or yoga, depending on what you find the most beneficial and enjoyable. Keeping this up regularly will make you feel better and stronger and help you cope with stress too.
Challenging and stimulating your brain regularly is an important step in maintaining your cognitive abilities and avoiding forgetfulness and other mental challenges. Learning new skills (or even just new information) can be beneficial in so many ways, including helping you to maintain a sense of purpose and achievement.
Trying out new hobbies like baking, knitting, golfing, yoga, gardening, writing or whatever else might tickle your fancy can be a great way to include both some learning and some fun into your daily routine. You could even learn a new instrument or simply try out some different recipes.
A serious fear that many people have about getting older is isolation and loneliness. Worrying about losing your loved ones or even drifting away from them due to not being able to get out as much is a valid concern, but there are ways to deal with this too.
First, you’ll need to keep working on maintaining your relationships with your friends and family. Keeping yourself active will allow you to be physically able to move around for much longer, so visiting those close to you regularly will help battle those feelings of loneliness.
Being able to maintain relationships over the phone too has become more important than ever since Covid. Take advantage of using voice and video calls to stay in contact with those you love every week, or even every day. While it is important to get out of the house and see people face-to-face, this isn’t always possible, and you need to be in tune with the alternatives.
Even with all these tips and tricks, you can’t change the fact that you’re getting older and that can be hard to deal with sometimes. Having a positive outlook and choosing to make the most of your time is an important mind shift to make.
Spending time with people and doing things that bring you joy or that you’ve always wanted to do can help you to ward off boredom and depression. Travel if you can, but if not then become a tourist in your own city and its surroundings. Visit museums, parks, attractions, and restaurants that you haven’t tried before. You could also volunteer at a non-profit organisation you care about for a good sense of purpose and doing good with your day. Having more time for yourself means doing all the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Getting older is a challenge, but it’s one that you can meet head-on with drive, purpose and a positive attitude. Your age doesn’t need to define you, your abilities, or your life. You can make this journey your own by taking care of yourself and enjoying your life to the fullest in every way possible. Spend more time with the people you love, get invested with hobbies and try things you’ve never tried; you’ll find that things aren’t as hard as you expected.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.