It’s been said that time waits for no one. Each season of life brings its own challenges and rewards. As we age, we are reminded of all we can’t do when in fact, there is still so much we can do.
While it’s true that you can’t stop time from passing, you can decide how to spend that time. You can let it pass you by or you can take charge and make the most of what life brings you. When you give yourself grace to let go of what no longer serves you, you empower yourself to seek out possibilities for making the most of where you are now and embrace what you can do to keep yourself healthy, strong and living your best life. Here are our seven best secrets to aging with grace.
Get Checked Out
Even if you’re healthy, regular medical and dental checkups are important. Things can change fast. Regular checkups keep your body functioning at its best. Know your numbers. Some of the things to keep a check on include:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol, blood sugar and other pertinent labs
- Monitor your weight
- Dental checkups – dental issues and gum disease have been linked to inflammatory and cardiac issues
Less time sidelined with medical or dental issues means more time doing the things you love.
Feed Your Body
Maintaining a healthy diet is important at any age but even more so in our later years. Adequate nutrition keeps your body fueled with everything you need for energy, good health and optimum functioning. Food and food quality matters.
You’ve probably heard the saying “eat the rainbow”. It’s more than a catchy phrase. Turns out, fruits and vegetables are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are critical for good health. Antioxidants (such as phenolic acids, proanthocyanins, flavonoids, and anthocyanin) are those powerhouse phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables that help your body fight free radicals and age-related tissue damage. For example, fresh cranberries and cranberry juice (not the sweetened sugary kind) contain anthocyanin and other nutrients known that may lower risk of urinary tract infections and certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and decrease blood pressure. Eating a wide variety of produce means you are doing all you can to get those important nutrients.
Flex Your Mind Muscles
Aging gracefully also means keeping your mind sharp and flexible. There is a mountain of research that shows keeping your brain challenged helps to stave off cognitive decline. Things like crossword puzzles or Sudoku probably come to mind. If you love doing things like crossword puzzles or Sudoku, great! Challenge yourself.
Technology offers even more options! For just about any game or activity you might be interested in, there’s probably an app for that. If puzzles or word searches aren’t your cup of tea, there are many, many ways to challenge those critical thinking skills:
- Learn a new language. Apps like Duolingo, Memrise or Quizlet can be a great way to get started.
- Find an app or program to learn a new craft or skill that interests you.
- Find and cook a new recipe.
- Use an journaling app if you like to write. MoodNotes or Day One Journal are two popular journaling apps to check out.
- Consider wearing a smart watch and learn its many functions. Apple Watch or FitBit are two popular brands.
- Opt for the online scheduling tool (if available) when making your appointments
Other ways to challenge your cognitive skills include:
- Changing the route you take when going somewhere
- Changing your daily routine
- Try brushing your teeth or combing your hair with the opposite hand. (It’s more challenging than it sounds.)
The benefits of regular exercise cannot be underestimated. Daily, intentional movement has been repeatedly shown to have several direct health benefits for mature adults. In addition to helping to manage weight, people who exercise regularly can see improvements in blood pressure, diabetes, lipids, arthritis, and neurocognitive functioning. Getting in that regular exercise also helps to reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Regular exercise has even been associated with decreased mortality in older adults.
You don’t have to be a marathon runner to reap the benefits of exercise. Almost any intentional, moderate exercise can make a difference. Here are a few ideas:
- Water aerobics
- Bike riding
Of course, you want to get the OK from your doctor before engaging in any new exercise regime, especially if you haven’t been active for awhile or have restrictions. There is truly something for everyone.
Get Your Zzzzz’s
Good quality sleep is the foundation of good health. During sleep, your brain is hard at work clearing out toxins, repairing cell damage that occurs daily and refreshing your immune system. It is also during sleep that the brain in consolidating and storing memories. Good sleep is associated with improved attention and mood stability.
Sleep patterns change as we get older. REM sleep (deep sleep) tends to decline. Falling asleep and staying asleep can become more difficult. In this season of life, it’s more important than ever to prioritize sleep. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help.
- Follow a regular schedule even on weekends. A regular sleep schedule works with your body’s circadian rhythm and helps to reset your internal clock.
- Get into a bedtime routine. Doing things in the evening that signal “time to wind down” helps your brain begin preparing for sleep. Relaxing things like reading, listening to soft music or a warm bath can help.
- Cool and comfy. You want your sleep space to be cool, quiet, dark and comfortable. Soft and comfortable bedding is a must. And don’t forget, comfy PJs!
- Power down. Turn off electronics about an hour before bed. The light from your electronics is stimulating and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Avoid too much napping. A quick, short 20-minute power nap can be refreshing but long or late-day naps can leave you sleepless.
- Exercise regularly. Daily exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality. Try to avoid exercising close to bedtime as it can be too stimulating.
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep. Some people are more sensitive than others but a good rule of thumb is to avoid using caffeine late in the day.
Use Your Tools
As we get older, some things just get harder to do. Hands don’t grip quite as well. Fingers aren’t as flexible as they used to be. Holding skinny utensils, navigating mealtimes, or attending to daily activities can become a challenge for even the most nimble. Live smarter, not harder! Look for tools that make doing those everyday tasks just a little easier.
Today’s adaptive tools are designed with the mature, socially active adult in mind. You’ll find adaptive utensils, tableware and more that make mealtime easier to manage.
Classy Pal’s line of sophisticated and stylish adult clothing protectors are designed to be functional and stylish. You can dine out with confidence knowing that spills are no worry. Whether you’re at home or out on the town with friends, you will find a style to fit every occasion.
Don’t let worries about needing assistive tools stop you from living the life you want to live. There truly are tools for almost every need.
This tip might surprise you. The act of practicing gratitude has been shown to have profound physical and emotional benefits when practiced regularly. But, what does that mean exactly?
Gratitude is more than just saying “thank you”. Gratitude is the process of acknowledging the goodness and positives in your life and the world around you. It harnesses the power of the mind-body connection. When practiced regularly, gratitude helps you to see value in the future. It improves self-control and a sense of connection and caring for oneself and others. A few of the many benefits of practicing gratitude include:
- Improved sleep
- Greater sense of well-being
- Less stress
- Strengthened immune system and improvement in health markers
- More satisfying relationships
Practicing gratitude is easy too! There are a million and one ways to do it but one of the simplest and most powerful is to simply keep a gratitude journal. Set aside a few minutes each day to reflect on some things that you are most grateful for. Really reflect on what those things are and why they matter to you. Take your time. You don’t want to just jot down a laundry list. You want to really reflect upon and allow yourself to experience the feeling of being grateful for it.
Not sure how to start? Try using prompts to get those thoughts going. Here is a prompt to try:
What is one something you did this week that you're thankful for?
Write about someone you’ve never met, but who has positively influenced your life in some way.Time moves on but how you experience it is largely up to you. Aging with grace allows you to embrace life to the fullest and live on your terms. Adopting a few strategies can keep you engaged, healthy and happy. As always, stay safe and know that Classy Pal is here with you.