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Maintaining a Positive Attitude Towards Aging | Generations Home Care
two active seniors maintaining a positive attitude towards aging

Some people seem naturally inclined to look at the positive side of life: finding bright spots on cloudy days and regaining their equilibrium quickly when life challenges come their way. While it may not come as naturally for everyone, there are good reasons to develop skills and establish habits that help you find and keep a positive attitude about life. Human life expectancy has grown by more than 20 years since the 1950s, which means that there are more 80 and 90-year-olds than ever before. With a long life ahead of us, how do we make it a good one?

Positive Emotions, Overall Health, and the Research Studies

A health guide put out by Harvard Medical School looked at how numerous studies link positive emotions with better health, longer life, and greater well-being. In contrast, chronic anger, worry, and hostility increase the risk of developing heart disease. A growing number of studies find that those who think positively have a lower risk of dying of all causes than others in their age group with a more pessimistic outlook on life. 

Among many interesting data points, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) found that “Older adults with negative attitudes towards aging had slower walking speed and worse cognitive abilities […], compared to older adults with more positive attitudes towards aging.” This led the researchers to quip, “You’re only as old as you feel!”

The Fact of Aging

Aging is a fact of life, and there is no way to bypass the more challenging aspects of aging, whether physical challenges or emotional upheaval. But maintaining a positive attitude can help you savor the wisdom gained from the years, nurture old relationships, develop new friendships, and value the years in front of you.

Since we can’t bypass getting older, it’s time to focus on how we do it. There are a variety of ways to create a positive attitude that will appeal to various personalities and abilities. Surveys have found that developing these habits and mindsets helps people become more satisfied with their lives as they age because they tend to minimize the negatives, accept their limitations, and set reasonable goals for the future.

Practices

Here are several activities for the mind and the body that researchers have identified as ways to help develop a positive attitude in the midst of daily life.

Focus on the Positives 

Developing the art of focus can take some practice, but there are many ways to start. Try a gratitude journal, implement daily prayer, or send a note to a friend or loved one each week. A 2019 study found that an optimistic attitude can help people live up to 15% longer and have a better chance of living to 85 or more.

Stay Physically Active

The more you incorporate natural movement into your day, the better off you’ll be. Meet a friend for a walk, do some outdoor gardening, learn to dance, join the local YMCA and take a water aerobics class or swim laps. Go on walking tours in your area and visit museums, zoos, and art galleries.

Be Socially Engaged

Growing old isn’t a solo sport. We are social creatures, and that doesn’t change as we age, so don’t let loneliness take over your life. Real face-to-face conversations about both the good and the difficult keep us grounded and connected. Lifelong friendships maintain health and if you find yourself in a solitary state, consider joining a club. Whether it’s something active like bird watching or community activism or quiet and contemplative like a book club or quilting, connecting with someone else brings positivity into your life. 

Reduce Stress 

Chronic stress brings both mental and physical challenges to aging. Take time to reduce and manage the stress in your life. Carve out time for meditation, prayer, or quiet contemplation outdoors. Set boundaries with your incoming stress and be strategic with your news and media intake. Schedule time to just have fun with friends.

Keep Your Brain Active

Learning something is the best way to keep your brain sharp. “Cognitive training can improve cognitive function,” and leisure activities are better than computer-based training. So, learn to play a new game or dive into a topic you’ve always been curious about. Read or listen to books, learn origami, play sudoku or fill in a daily crossword, or go on a virtual tour of a city or museum. The National Museum of Natural History offers a wide variety of virtual tours, as do other museums around the world.

Engage in Purposeful Activities

Are you passionate about a cause? In 2015, people over 55 volunteered three billion hours to their communities. According to Deborah Carr, Professor of Sociology at Boston University, this is a value of $77 billion to the economy. But, even more importantly, it brings meaning, purpose, and fulfillment to your life while also contributing to the good of others. Whether you’re passionate about animals, children, urban gardening, or history, there are many ways to find volunteer opportunities. If you are part of a community group or church, they may already have places where you can join in to do meaningful work. Check your local library for opportunities in the community and lists of organizations that may be looking for volunteers. You can also scope out opportunities online, and VolunteerMatch is an easy place to get started. 

Loss of mobility can be especially difficult and contribute to depression and lack of self-worth, but there are ways to engage purposefully even if you can’t be there physically. Letters to soldiers, other homebound adults, and college students can make a huge impact. Crocheting or knitting for babies can make a difference in someone else’s life and positively impact yours as well. 

Invest in Yourself

Aging does not devalue a person. Take the time and energy to take care of yourself. Eat for pleasure and for health, develop good sleep habits, meet a friend for a pedicure (yes, even men benefit from taking care of their feet and nails!), practice good personal hygiene, drink your water. All of these daily steps communicate that you are valuable, which translates into positivity for yourself and those around you.

About Generations Home Care

Are you ready to make some changes in your daily habits and activities but need some support in getting there? Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.

Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.

Our Specialty Services Include:

  • Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
  • Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
  • Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
  • Veteran’s connection to care program.
  • Live-in services and couples care.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.


About the author - Josh Friesen

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