Advice to Deal With Aging
The average life expectancy isn’t the same as it was a while ago. However, rather than being interested in how much longer we can live, we should be interested in how to deal with aging in the best possible way.
It’s for this reason that active aging is renewed proposal to deal with aging. It puts the focus on the importance of considering the necessities, desires, and abilities of older people.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2015 and 2050, the percentage of people living in the world older than 60 years old will go from 12% to 22%. Although this may not be an exact number, the projections for 2020 claimed that the number of people 60 years old or older was higher than that of children younger than 5.
Age doesn’t have to be synonymous with illness, but rather the opposite. It’s another stage in the cycle of life. It invites us to think of new projects and ways of enjoying ourselves.
Characteristics of aging
To get started, it’s important to mention that aging is a singular experience for each person. Here, there are biological, psychological, and social factors that all play a role.
However, as a general criterion, we accept that it can give way to the following changes.
Aging on an anatomical level
The anatomical changes are a correlation that accompanies aging.
Although today the typical image of an older adult isn’t the same, due to scientific advancements, aesthetic surgery, and lifestyle, there are certain linking characteristics. Wrinkled skin, reduction in sensory abilities (sight and hearing), metabolism changes, and loss of bone mass come to mind.
These changes are clearest when it comes to working. For example, in the transition from having a job to later being retired.
Similarly, for a long time, many people believed that older people tended to isolate themselves. However, it doesn’t have to be like this. In fact, many old people seek to enjoy their spare time and get involved in activities.
Sometimes older people can become isolated but more because of external causes (health of a partner and others close to them) than of their own choosing. Each aging experience is unique. We need to be aware of the emotions and new challenges that these social changes cause.
Cognitive and intellectual functions
Difficulties remembering, with speech, and in expression may arise. For example, they may lose their train of thought in conversation, have difficulty remembering someone’s name, confuse people. This is cognitive deterioration.
However, this doesn’t mean that older people can’t learn new things or busy themselves with their own tasks. These changes invite us to think that these are situations are dynamic, not unique.
It’s important to pay attention if these changes appear and to do something about them. As we’ve already said, aging doesn’t have to be synonymous with loss, but rather with adaptation.
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Advice to deal with aging
Just like in any other stage in life, you should also prepare yourself for aging. When we decide to leave our family homes or to start a family, don’t we think of a place, a suitable time, and the necessary resources?
The following are some tips that can help us how we imagine ourselves at that stage of our lives and take decisions to choose how we want to live it.
1. Work on acceptance
To deal with aging, we must accept the change and transformations that are going to happen. Learn to look at your new reality with new eyes and not from a state of loss, hindrance, or nostalgia of the past.
Trying to follow the same rhythm or not recognizing some limitations that your body may present can lead to more frustration.
2. Deal with aging: Follow a balanced lifestyle
At this point in the game, we often hear “you have to die of something and I’d prefer it be from enjoying myself”. But, enjoyment doesn’t have to be associated with excess.
For a positive aging experience, it’s best to eat healthily, get enough rest, and do moderate physical activity, according to what your body allows you to do.
3. We all need to be cared for
During the aging process, many people begin to feel frustrated when their independence or autonomy is affected. For example, if they can’t see well, they may no longer be able to drive the car and need someone to escort them around. Many older adults feel useless or a burden to their families.
In these moments, to deal with aging, it’s a good idea to remember that we all need to be cared for. For that reason, sometimes we care for others, and other times we receive the care.
4. Deal with aging: Keep your mind active
You can choose different formats for this: podcasts, sudoku, documentaries, etc. You must continue to cognitively exert yourself.
Similarly, during the aging process, you can continue to learn. It may be the moment where you start some course that you haven’t yet had the time for or you may even develop technological abilities.
5. Remind them that they can do other activities
For a positive aging process, the person shouldn’t stop doing activities, but rather they should replace them with others or reduce the intensity. For example, it may not be best for them to spend the whole afternoon looking after their grandchildren because they get tired, but they may be able to pick the children up and take them home from school.
The key here is to concentrate on what they can do and offer alternatives and new challenges.
6. Respect the decisions of those who are aging
Family should understand that older adults don’t stop being people with rights and abilities to make decisions. For example, we often interpret that they’re depressed because they don’t want to go outside for a walk to the shopping center, when they may just be tired.
Sometimes they don’t want to have the last cell phone, filled with apps, that’s more difficult to manage, but rather a more discrete model that caters to their own interests.
We can offer them our help, but not impose it. It’s important that we learn to understand and empathize when they make certain requests of us and that we respect their decisions.
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To deal with aging, don’t fight against it. Work with it!
Lastly, as part of the most successful strategies for dealing with aging, it’s important to clarify that participation and social changes are necessary. We find ourselves in a time where we associate old age with evaluation (uselessness, loss of ability) and we infantilize it.
It’s true that old age has as much to teach us as other stages of life do. To experience a positive aging process, we as a society must also offer help.
In order to do that, it’s essential that we stop with the negative stereotypes that we associate with old age and start viewing the positive aspects. These people looked after us at one point. They have experiences and points of view that could teach us a lot.
It’s important to work to create real images and discussions on what old age actually is today.It might interest you...