Growing old may be a gift, but it can get frustrating. Isolation and inactivity feed off one another until you’re stiff, sore and lonely. Push back!
Loss of mobility shows up in several ways. Foot, knee and hip pain can make walking difficult, so you start avoiding public events that include a sidewalk stroll or public venues with large parking lots. Back trouble can make it hard to drive for long distances or comfortably occupy an airplane seat for hours, so you skip the annual family gathering in another state or limit your vacation options.
Staying physically mobile requires you to stay flexible. There are several yoga classes and programs specific to seniors that can keep your joints limber and your spine supple. Additionally, these programs can aid you in maintaining balance.
Visual and Hearing Problems
Sometimes the greatest barrier to getting help with visual issues and hearing loss is the elderly person themselves. It can be very hard to accept that you don’t see as well as you used to, or can’t hear well in regular conversation. Talk to your doctor about corrective lenses for specific situations including driving before you’re involved in a car accident. Get your hearing tested before you miss critical conversations or are facing an irate neighbor or housemate, irritated at the volume of the television.
Being tough and maybe a bit stubborn may have helped you become a senior citizen, but it can also shrink your life if you’re not willing to adjust to the changes in your body and brain. Talk to a professional and get the assistance devices you need before they become critical.
For many of us in the post-fifty demographic, dementia is a terrifying specter. The idea of losing cognitive functioning and/or memory building capabilities is horrifying. If we need or want to work past 60, it’s also critical to our future financial security. So how do we keep our aging brains agile?
Building neuroplasticity is more than physical exercise and puzzles, though those activities can help. Staying optimistic and building empathic behaviors can do wonders to keep your brain both sharp and stretchy. Every life contains pain and hardship, and every emotional connection contains the risk of loss. However, if your outlook has become negative or bitter, seeking counseling to help you develop a brighter outlook can not only raise your spirit. It can protect and expand your brain power.
For many of us, our kids force us to socialize. After school programs, sports clubs and scouting groups keep us connected to other adults we wouldn’t ordinarily see. As our kids leave the house, our spouses and our jobs keep us socially expensive, requiring us to spend time with people we might not otherwise connect to. However, retirement can leave us sitting alone in an empty house, wondering what to do with ourselves from day to day.
Loneliness is bad for your brain and your heart. How can you step out of your shell and make new social connections?
1) Volunteer. One of the many needs in our public school system is for adults to sit with a child while they practice reading. Contact your local school district and get assigned to a child that needs a reading buddy. All you have to do is listen.
2) Learn a new language or skill. Many post-high school educational institutions offer free or reduced tuition to take classes for the fun of it. Try an anthropology or sociology class. Check out a 20th-century history class.
3) Kick something off your bucket list. Learn to decorate cakes. Take a painting class. Look at the world from a brand new angle and stretch your brain!
Illness and accidents have taken many people far too early. If you’re lucky enough to have grown old, celebrate it. Update your outlook, keep your brain and your body limber, and stay connected!