Growing older brings many positive changes – increased perspective, a greater appreciation of loved ones and a sense of peace and serenity. However, there are some challenges that come with aging including, for some, decreased physical abilities. If you’ve been very independent throughout your life, you likely won’t want to accept this. It can be frustrating to ask for help or rely on others to meet your basic needs. But there are ways to address these challenges and thrive during your golden years.
Stay healthy— physically and mentally
Keeping yourself in the best possible physical conditions can mitigate the impact of the aging process. For starters, eating a healthy diet can enhance your quality of life. Many illnesses and medical conditions can be improved by changes in your diet. And exercising daily, as you are able, can help you stay sharp, upbeat and as agile as possible.
Don’t forget that your brain needs exercise too. Studies show that regular mental stimulation may help stave off conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline. Activities like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or learning new things all count! Finally, be sure to take prescribed medications and recommended supplements and engage in regular medical care for new and existing conditions.
Exercise control over your environment
Consider whether your home environment supports your lifestyle. If you’ve had trouble performing activities such as walking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, driving or running errands, then it may be time to make some changes. Adapting to your changing needs can help you maintain your independence. Hiring a home health aide to assist you with some activities can help keep you stay in your home for as long as possible.
Also, consider making adjustments to your home to make it easier and safer for you to get around and accomplish tasks. Falls are a big risk for seniors and are one of the primary reasons older adults end up in a care facility. A home health aide can help as can rearranging or remodeling your home to improve accessibility. In addition to moving furniture around and minimizing fall hazards such as throw rugs, you may need to have grab bars, ramps or a chair lift installed. You may need fewer modifications if your home was built with accessible design.
Do what you like
It may sound obvious, but doing things you like to do will make a senior life transition easier. Focusing on things you find enjoyable will enhance your quality of life. If activities you once enjoyed due are not possible because of physical limitations, you should discover new diversions. Focus on what you have and can achieve, not what you don’t have or can’t do.
Some older adults find they enjoy activities that explore their spirituality. If you are a social butterfly, find ways to remain so. There are many day programs and clubs available at senior and community centers or civic organizations. Did you always want to learn to oil paint or speak Italian but never had the time? Now you do. And developing new interests also stimulates your brain as well!
Handling senior life transitions with grace
With your body and mind undergoing transitions, it’s not always easy to handle these changes with grace. However, making adjustments to your lifestyle don’t have to be a negative. Instead, this shows that you’re flexible and adaptable. If you can remain so, then you’ll be prepared to enjoy the many gifts life continues to offer.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you find best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.