By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Healthy aging is a personal responsibility that requires conscious action on our part. While aging is inevitable, “healthy aging” is optional and based on our choices. In this era of available research and information, we have access to a plethora of healthy aging resources, giving us all an equal opportunity to thrive in our golden years. It’s clearly time to update the way we think about aging and embrace the opportunity to be in the drivers seat.
4 Components of Healthy Aging
1. Physical Wellness – key phrase “functional fitness”
Functional fitness refers to your ability to perform everyday activities without pain or limitations. Staying functionally fit is easy if you’ve developed a healthy relationship with your body based on respect. What do we mean by respect?
- maintain activity
- eat nutritionally
- manage your weight
- quit smoking
- don’t abuse alcohol or medications
2. Mental Wellness – key phrase “mindfulness”
Science is proving that we, in large part, program our lives and health via our thoughts and beliefs. This new information requires us to become more aware and intentional when it comes to how we feed our minds. Findings from the new and exciting field of neuroplasticity demonstrate that the brain is capable of healthy aging. How can we support our mental well-being?
- continue to learn new things
- keep your curiosity alive
- expand your world by expanding your world view
- avoid rigid ways of thinking or behaving
- engage your imagination and curiosity
3. Emotional Wellness -key phrase “gratitude”
Our emotional well-being has a powerful impact on the amount of pleasure and joy we get out of living. If you generally feel happy it’s likely you have a positive outlook on life which in turn contributes to your physical and mental wellness. What keys unlock the doors of emotional wellness as we age?
- avoid expectations of others
- practice forgiveness
- adopt an attitude of gratefulness
- find joy in the little things
- accept the things you can’t change
- network with community and help others
- maintain a sense of playfulness
4. Spiritual Wellness – key phrase, “nurture yourself”
There are a diverse number of ways to define spiritual well-being. Regardless of your personal belief system it is important to have an inner life and a relationship with something that gives your life purpose. Finding meaning in your life is a necessary personal journey and plays and important role in healthy aging. How can we nurture our spiritual wellness?
- seek inner peace and stillness
- focus on ways to make the world a better place
- spend time developing a relationship with yourself
- face and resolve fears about death