5 tips to help older people deal with age-related changes – Daily News

Q As a 79-year-old woman, I have noticed many changes. I used to play tennis and I don’t anymore. I used to stay up late at night and start the day early the next morning. Don’t do that either. I used to run and now I just walk. Also, I often ask myself, “Who is that looking at me in the mirror?” And my “before” list is longer than my “can” list. How do we accept our limits? tf

“Nothing is constant but change,” said the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus. This is so true when it comes to aging. If we’re lucky enough to live long lives, we’re likely to face age-related changes as well. And some of those changes will be losses. We know that physical endurance can be reduced; Years of running can lead to joint problems and our immune system is compromised. And then there’s that face we’re looking at in the mirror. We can see character lines, commonly known as wrinkles, and skin that appears to be hanging slightly lower. Yes, that is aging.

HelpGuide.org, a highly respected nonprofit online guide to mental health and wellbeing, gives us some tips on how to learn to manage age-related changes. Here are a few.

Be thankful. Expressing gratitude is a way of appreciating what we have rather than what we lack. There are many ways to express this feeling: Write a thank you letter to someone who has positively impacted your life. Keep a gratitude journal in which you describe thoughts about gifts you receive each day. Another strategy is to set a weekly time to count blessings. Helpguide.org suggests saying exactly how you feel when good things happen to you and sharing it with loved ones. Then there is prayer, which can be used to cultivate gratitude. Yoga helps focus on the present, and mindful meditation can free the busy mind remind us to be thankful for the gifts of nature like the sweet scent of spring and the warmth of the sun.

Accept the things we cannot change. Consider the Serenity Prayer from Alcoholics Anonymous: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to discern one from the other.” Many aspects of aging are beyond our control. However, we know that there is a lot we can do to slow the aging process and actually improve and even excel. This applies to strength, wisdom, insight, creativity, certain types of intelligence, and more. Acceptance begins with being realistic about what we cannot change. And I mention it realistically because aging has gotten a bad rap as all it means is disease, disability, and depression. That’s inaccurate. There is a lot we can do to slow down the aging process.

Look for the silver lining. Some believe that “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. In some cases that may be true. First, consider the age-related stress situation. Evaluate whether poor choice or mistakes contributed. If so, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” Then look at the challenges as opportunities for personal growth. A good example is the social isolation of older adults at the height of the pandemic. Many have become experts on Zoom, connecting with family more often, taking online classes, and learning about a new technology. Others have been inspired to write their memoirs and share them with loved ones.

Think humor. We know having Humor is good for us, triggering several positive physical responses. Humor relaxes our body, relieves muscle tension and stress; it decreases the stress hormone cortisol, which minimizes pain and inflammation. The use of humor lowers blood pressure and stimulates the immune system. It promotes well-being, a positive attitude towards life and a stable mood as well as increased resilience. And a good laugh is just fun.

Trade something. Find out how you can add some joy and meaning to your life. You can take up a new hobby, join a class or club. Consider learning a new game or a foreign language, volunteering for a good cause, or traveling. Spend time in nature or enjoy art. It’s about “doing something”.

This is how the late poet, author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is quoted If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” This could be an approach to dealing with age-related changes.

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