September is Healthy Aging Month!

by Sue Taggart

September is Healthy Aging Month and it got me to thinking–what exactly does it mean? Surely healthy living is something we all want to achieve at any age. I don’t want to think about aging, I would rather spend my time and energy living and finding ways that I can do that in the healthiest way possible. Of course I would hope to live a long life, with the best of physical, mental and spiritual health. I will actively participate in ways to achieve that, but I refuse to obsess over it.

As I was preparing this article, I checked out a number of websites devoted to “healthy aging”, “Over 50” etc., and was struck by the notion of “loss” that seems to be associated with getting older. Much of what I read I found to be very condescending. Of course things change as we get older, they have been changing since I can remember. My youngest memory was when I was still in my pram (stroller) and there have been a lot of changes since then in all areas of my life! I have lost family and friends over the years to accidents, illness and moving away–so loss is not something I see as being exclusive to aging. Financial security seems like something that can only be achieved by those who started planning for it in their 20’s. I was not one of those forward thinkers so I will have to get very creative about how to support myself in the however many decades I still have left.

Of course planning for the future is important, but it’s important at all stages of life and even the best plans get derailed. Something that many of those who have lost their life savings in recent financial Wall Street crashes can attest. I believe it’s about living your best life possible, aware that things may not go as planned, that the proverbial  silver lining may turn out to be more of a grey cloud. But, so what, as long as you are open to life’s opportunities, 50 and beyond could just turn out to be your finest hour.

That said, I realize that I am lucky to be in good health, but I have also seen that many of my friends and colleagues who have not been so lucky, still have a positive attitude and are thankful that they are still here and are still able to enjoy life even if it is different than they would have chosen for themselves. And I think that positive outlook—even through pain and suffering—has more to do with “healthy aging” than much of the expert advise on the subject.  However, I always like to hedge my bets, so here are links to two articles each with 10 tips on healthy aging that are more about keeping your mind and body together!

And my own tips for the soul are these:

  1. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh.
  2. Give yourself a small treat every day (preferably not a pint of ice cream).
  3. Connect with a friend or family member each day, life is precious so take time to share with those who are precious to you.
  4. Do things that you enjoy.
  5. Cut people from your life who drain you with their negativity.
  6. Do something you have never done before, it’s fun and gives you something new to talk about.
  7. Work hard at your passion.
  8. Help others whenever you can.
  9. Don’t hold grudges.
  10. Smile more.

And may you, as the famous Star Trek quote goes, “Live long and prosper”.

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