It’s time to embrace aging with a healthy mindset.
Thanks to medical advances, including immunizations and lifestyle improvements, people are living longer lives and continuing to contribute to their communities.
The Flourish 55+ Healthy Activity Centre adheres to optimal aging which encompasses the seven healthy aging habits. Those areas address having fun, eating healthy, learning new things,
participating often, exercising, rest and relaxation, and socializing.
Agism, defined as discrimination based on age that stereotypes being older, often puts limits on what those who are aged 55 and older can accomplish. But choosing to live well and to your own expectations allows for accomplishments to be achieved, no matter what they are. Do you want to learn to kayak? Go ahead. Have you always dreamed of writing a novel? Start one today. We are the only ones who can limit ourselves.
We need to avoid actions and communication that typecast all older individuals such as saying, “I had a senior moment” or sending birthday cards that send negative messages about reaching a certain age.
The art of aging and living a fulfilling life requires a mindset that we need to strive for every day. Here are some suggestions to make aging well possible, no matter how old you are:
- Change your mindset of being old, weak and frail and think positive thoughts about what you are able to do. Research shows optimistic people live at least seven years longer than pessimistic people.
- Exercise and keep moving. Walking is probably the easiest form of exercise; Nordic walking burns three times the calories of standard walking. Aerobics, Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and swimming, all of these types of exercise train our muscles and get them to engage. It’s most important not to sit for hours. Our joints are made to be moved and our cardio-respiratory system must be continually activated to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
- Take time to meditate to become more empathetic, kinder and less stressed. Qi Gong is an amazing, low-impact regime that takes little time to learn. This exercise promotes lymphatic drainage.
- Keep learning. Take a class, learn about technology or take part in a club. Whatever suits you but keep your brain active.
- Spend time in nature. Look towards inner peace and tranquility. This could include hikes, camping, gardening or just relaxing outdoors.
- Own a pet if possible. Caring for or loving a pet increases our oxytocin or feel-good response in life. Build good relationships with neighbours, family, friends and colleagues to continue to have that happy oxytocin feeling. Loneliness can lead to early death or depression.
- Keep stress in perspective. Stress can facilitate growth in our life but too much can be detrimental to our health. Recognize that adversity happens to all of us and sometimes we need outside assistance to help us.
We need to shift society’s thinking around aging, from decline to thriving. Nova Scotia has many opportunities to improve the quality of life for our population as we age. Let’s work together to include all citizens when planning activities and events or making decisions that impact accessibility and inclusion of older adults.
The Flourish 55+ Healthy Activity Centre, located at 678 Lahave St. in Bridgewater, offers many programs for this demographic to participate. Stop in for a tour of the centre or visit our website (www.flourishcentre.ca) to print a copy of our calendar of events.
Lisa LeBlanc is the executive director of Flourish 55+ Healthy Activity Society. Karen Field is the vice-chair of the board of directors at the society.