How do you feel about growing older? Do you see it as a time of decline or one that is full of opportunities?
It’s a question worth asking. Because while it’s true that everyone ages, having a positive attitude about it might actually add years to your life.
After following subjects for decades, research discovered that individuals who had positive perceptions about aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with more negative views. This advantage was also found even after age, gender, socioeconomic status and loneliness elements were factored in.
Negative perceptions and stereotypes about aging
Unfortunately, negative attitudes toward aging are prevalent in our society and often aren’t challenged but accepted as true. Early on we may mistakenly believe that aging is a time of decline or illness. As we grow older and carry those beliefs with us, they can become self-fulfilling prophecies.
For example, instead of seeing this time in life as full of possibilities, you may not exercise or take steps to age well because you believe there is nothing that can be done – ultimately causing your decline, which will support your original belief.
Change your view of growing older
The great news is that our perceptions can be reframed with a little effort. If you think you could use a little attitude adjustment about growing older yourself, you may want to consider these 7 suggestions:
- Differentiate between myths and facts
Challenge the misinformation and learn the truth about aging. For example, you may believe that falling is inevitable and that there is nothing you can do. But there are exercises to strengthen muscles and improve balance as well as ways to make your home environment safer.
You may believe older people are naturally more woeful than younger adults but just the opposite is actually true. If you’re feeling depressed you should talk to your doctor but studies reveal that people with more years generally feel a stronger sense of happiness and contentment.
- Create and strengthen positive views about growing older
Once you better understand the many myths that surround aging, you can begin to assess your own personal views and challenge negative or false assumptions you may have made.
Focus on the positives of growing older, including:
- Improved mental skills
- Improved self-image
- Improved ability to deal with social conflicts
- Better understanding the value of compromise and considering different resolutions
- Improved at managing emotions
- Feel happier overall
- Create a plan to better your health
Once you understand that aging is not an inevitable time of decline but also one of promise and possibilities, you’ll want to take steps to help you enjoy this stage of life to the fullest.
Research what you can do to live your healthiest life and talk to your medical team for recommendations. Create a wellness plan that includes a healthy diet, exercise for both your physical and cognitive health, getting enough sleep and building a strong social network to rely on.
- Be realistic about the aging process
It’s also important to be honest about the changes or challenges that may arrive. Educate yourself with the facts and best options. But remember, you also inherit only 20% – 25% of the factors that influence your health. That leaves a lot of control for you to age well.
You may find that your balance or muscle strength isn’t what it used to be so take steps for improvement.
Developing dementia is not a forgone conclusion but be knowledgeable about how to keep your brain healthy and functioning.
- Discover the advantages of age
The years of knowledge and experience greatly benefit us as we grow older. Our perspective changes on how the world works and we get better at evaluating our options, solving problems and making choices.
We also develop improved personal skills along with self-confidence. Younger people often assume that being older is a time of hardship. But research has found most older adults acknowledge the challenges – yet at much lower levels. In addition, 45% said their life had turned out better than they expected.
- Exercise and eat well
A great way to change your view of aging? Exercise. You’ll feel better and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and some cancers. Consider walking fast, water aerobics, playing tennis, riding a bike, dancing or swimming. Include activities to strengthen your muscles and improve your balance.
Eating right provides the nutrients required for a healthy lifestyle. You may not need the same number of calories now as your metabolism has changed. Practice portion control and include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and low-fat dairy.
- Delight in your social relationships
Friendships are the basis of a life well-lived and are appreciated maybe even more as we grow older. There can be circumstances that might make it more challenging to meet and make new friends or attend social activities, but they are no less satisfying.
Older adults perceive their relationships as providing meaningful opportunities. But they also value their time more and are much less likely to put up with unhealthy or unfulfilling relationships that are harmful or toxic.
Life at Tapestry Senior Living communities
If you’re interested in reframing how you see aging or would like to change your view of growing older, an independent living community may be exactly what you’re looking for.
You won’t find myths or mistaken beliefs about aging, abilities or attitudes. What you will find is an active and engaged community who supports each other to live life to the fullest.
If you’re thinking about whether senior living might be the right answer for you or a loved one, we hope you will consider one of our communities.
Eating healthy and staying in shape is easy with our chef-inspired meals and fitness center. You’ll have many choices of activities to challenge your mind – or just to have fun. And the best part? All the new friends you’ll meet. With our amenities, activities and social events, you’ll quickly build meaningful relationships.
We understand that choosing the right community is an important decision and are here to answer any questions that you may have.
If you would like more information about a possible move to senior living, we invite you to download our free guide and resource on how to decide between home and senior living, Should You Stay or Should You Go?
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a personal tour, please contact one of our advisors at a community near you.