Healthy Attitudes Promote Healthy Aging
Let’s talk about age versus feeling old. We’re all growing older and no matter how many anti-aging lotions or potions we use, nothing is going to stop it. But are you also growing old? You may be thinking, “What’s the difference?” Well, the difference is huge! Everyone knows someone who is “old.” I’m not talking about age. Who knows people who are in their eighties who are active, in good health and have lots of energy? Who knows others who are only in their sixties or seventies who look and act much older? So what is the difference? Obviously, how we care for ourselves plays an important role.There’s lots of advice out there on nutrition and exercise. But one major key to not growing old is in our heads. In other words, it’s all in the attitude.
Did you know a positive attitude can help you live longer?
How you perceive aging affects how long you will live. In a study of almost 700 people, those with more positive perceptions of their own aging lived an average of 7 and 1/2 years longer, yes, you read correctly, 7 ½ years longer. You may be thinking, “Well, some folks have it easier than others, so of course they have a good attitude. But this effect remained after other factors such as age, gender, income, loneliness and health status were taken into account.
Researchers believe that positive thinking about aging can increase a person’s will to
live, making him or her more resilient to illness and more proactive about health.
Another explanation is that mental stress of aging is lower for people who have a
Let’s Compare how Positive Attitudes stacks up to Other Longevity Boosters?
- low blood pressure can add for 4 years to one’s lifespan
- low cholesterol readings: 4 years
- healthy weight: 1-3 years
- regular exercise: 1-3 years
- not smoking: a whopping 14 years
So 7 ½ years is pretty significant in comparison
Did you know you can boost your immune system from having a Positive
Our immune system’s ability to fight off infections and viruses is found to be tied to how optimistic or pessimistic we choose to be. So maintaining an upbeat attitude may do wonders to keep the coughs and sniffles at bay.
What’s even more significant, even within a short time period, if we choose to change our outlook we can reap the rewards. In other words – A single person — with the same personality and genes — has different immune function when they feel more or less optimistic. When people are feeling optimistic about a specific, important challenge they are facing, they may be less vulnerable to health problems. When they are feeling pessimistic, they are more vulnerable.
This information puts us squarely in the driver’s seat. If we change our attitude, our immune system may follow along, improving our odds at keeping colds and coughs at bay.
Another amazing finding is that positive thinking reduces the risk of frailty, which
includes things like weight loss, exhaustion, low strength, and reduced walking speed.
A seven-year research study found a link between positive emotions and the onset of frailty in over 1500 initially non-frail older people. The study says that positive emotions (or positive thinking) were measured by asking how often in the past week participants had the following thoughts:
- “I felt that I was just as good as other people”
- “I felt hopeful about the future”
- “I was happy”
- “I enjoyed life”
So ask yourself are you thinking these positive thoughts!
Researchers speculated that positive thinking may directly affect health via chemical and neural responses that help maintain an overall health balance. Another possibility is that positive thinking can have a beneficial effect on people’s health by increasing a person’s intellectual, physical, psychological and social resources.
Other Researchers have addressed another important question – Does Old Age
Bring Happiness or Despair?
The great news is that older adults tend to be more optimistic and to have a positive outlook on life more so than younger adults who are often stressed out. Younger adults often pay more attention to negative information, but seniors tend to show a better balance between paying attention to both the negative and positive. Also, aging can bring more cheer as people become more comfortable with themselves and their role in society.
Older adults enjoy life in general, it turns out. In a research survey of just under 3000 adults, the majority were enjoying more time with family, traveling, volunteering and on hobbies; as well as more financial security, not having to work, getting more respect and feel less stressed than when they were younger.
So, again, it pays to be a senior!
Some argue against these findings, saying that as people age, their health declines and friends pass away, which can make the elderly less happy. But health and happiness don’t always go hand-in-hand. Again, it’s all about attitude. Researcher have found that people age 60 to 98 who had dealt with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and/or mental health conditions rated their degree of successful aging very high (8.4 on a scale from 1 to 10). The bottom line is that many seniors dealing with illness and disability are still happy. They won’t let illness and/or disability bring their spirits down.
Again, it’s about attitude – Happiness in old age could come down to how one compares him or herself to same-age peers or one’s own expectations. It turns out, individuals who adapt the best to changes also have the highest expected levels of happiness.
One way to have a positive attitude is focusing on the things we can control and then making positive lifestyle choices. Many Older People Are Living longer Lives by Making Positive Choices on a Daily Basis. Let’s talk about some important choices.
Choice # 1. Live Longer by Eating Better
A nutritious diet will have a huge part to play in your prolonged life. Newer research has revealed that approximately eighty percent of heart disease and ninety percent of diabetes has its roots in poor eating habits. You don’t have to change everything overnight. Commit to just one change at a time. For example, eating one piece of fruit or drinking an extra glass of water each day. You may also want to consider supplemental vitamins to augment your regular diet.
Choice #2. Lower your Stress Levels Daily
If you tend to get stressed out, concentrate on what it is that stresses you out during your day. By staying aware of what triggers your stress you are taking a big step toward correcting that situation. When you feel yourself losing the battle to deter stress, take a step back from what you are doing and analyze the scenario. For most people, just knowing what is stressing them out is enough to deal with it in a healthier manner. If you feel your stress level rising, separate yourself immediately from the situation. For example, take a short walk and return to deal with the situation once you’ve cooled off. Meditation is great for lowering stress and anxiety. Perhaps you could allot 10 or 15 minutes each day when you do nothing but breathe deeply and think about pleasant things. Whatever you do, try not to get stressed about the 10 -15 minutes away from everything else – remember you may be improving your longevity by taking a little bit of time out.
Choice # 3. Start Exercising Daily & Make It A Habit
Getting exercise means your muscles and your immune system will both be stronger. Therefore, exercise helps increase your life span. You’ll have more energy and even simple movements will be easier. There’s lots of ways to move more – if you’re able, park further away vs. in the closest possible parking spot; take the stairs; skip the short cut and take the longer route; or stroll through the mall.
Choice # 4. Work On You Lifestyle Choices
At the risk of sounding like a broken record you have heard a hundred times before:
- Quit smoking now. Smoking tobacco is the number one reason why people have short life spans.
- As strange as it may sound, work on improving your defensive driving skills. As people age they are often less focused on the round and reaction time and sensory skills may be decreased. May sure you get your hearing and vision examined. Improving these will minimize the risk of car accidents.
- And Keep it to a minimum if you must consume alcohol.
Choice # 5. Learn new things.
Make it a point to learn something new every day. It maybe something simple or very complex. The point is — learn something new!
Choice # 6. Give to others.
It’s hard to focus on your own problems when you are focusing on others. There are lots of ways to get involved. Volunteer, join a group or organization or even just help out in the community.
Choice # 7. Play.
Have you every watched children play? Charles Dickens said, “To a young heart everything is fun.” So play with your kids or grandkids. Nothing keeps you young like playing with children. Don’t have any kids? Volunteer for your church nursery or offer to babysit for a young couple. Or just grab a friend and go do something fun!
Choice # 8. Practice doing things you enjoy.
Don’t get so caught up in chores that you forget to relax.
Go for a walk, go fishing or read a book. Whatever you enjoy, make time for it. It helps to reduce stress and combats that “old” feeling. Again, Aging is inevitable, but growing old is not. You may be growing older, but you don’t have to be “old.”
Lastly, let’s focus on the benefits of aging. Another way to have a positive attitude
about aging is to focus on the Benefits of Aging
The first major benefit of aging has to do with time, specifically quality of time, or
one’s deeper appreciation of how best to utilize it.
#1. For many seniors priorities have shifted, there is less rushing about, which means it
has become easier to determine where one’s priorities are and where focus is most
necessary. Years of practice of prioritizing have paid off.
#2. Seniors take fewer things for granted and have learned the downside of
procrastination. They know it’s best to do what one can, in the time available.
#3. Seniors develop a keener appreciation or enjoyment of nature and quiet times; their
inner voices are not as loud and less confusing.
#4. There is more time to be creative and enjoy the creativity of others, which adds to
the quality of living. Seniors have earned the right to be self-indulgent without guilt.
#5. Time spent with family and friends is more tightly embraced.
#6. If one is in good health, less sleep is needed, which means there is more time to be
productive or enjoy new pursuits. But if one wants to sleep in, you don’t have to set the
alarm clock for 6 am and rush off to work in commuter traffic.
The second major benefit of being a senior is the “Easing of Social Graces.”
One doesn’t have to lie about one’s age any longer.
#8. Senior Citizen discounts are a small perk, but these perks add up. For example, the
“senior citizen” discount at movie theaters can save you X $s.
#9. In general, seniors are treated with more consideration and respect.
#10. Seniors, like my grandmother, could get away more with being silly, which my
sister and I found delightfully amusing and fun. This is what is meant by “second
childhood?” So enjoy the freedom!
#11.Seniors can speak with true authority, on a greater number of subjects, from true
experience in “having been there and done that.”
#12. There are fewer and lower expectations of seniors in some areas, so it is much
easier to surpass and surprise others, especially since you’ve learned the true meaning
of “actions speak louder than words.”
#13. Based on experience, seniors know who their true friends are.
The third area of aging benefits is categorized into what can be called “Entering
the Comfort Zone.” One now feels and knows what matters most, on a day-to-day basis.
#14. The comfort of fitting into one’s skin is no small matter judging from the numbers
rushing out for surgical enhancements; but if one looks at old pictures of one’s self, confidence often comes with aging. This new comfort zone means there is less
preoccupation with appearance.
#15. One can truly reap the benefits of good health maintenance efforts. If one’s efforts
have been lacking, there is still time to make changes. The good news is that positive
differences are noticeable a lot sooner than one would think.
#16. The comfort zone should mean that there is less clutter in life and life can be
simpler. This means one has taken care of all business matters regarding one’s estate,
financially, morally, and emotionally. One experiences true freedom, when all loose ends
are neatly tied up and taken care of.
#17. One is comfortable no longer rushing through life on his way to somewhere else.
One knows where his or her heart is most at home.
#18. Often early relationship conflicts have been put aside; there may be less power
struggle. Couples, who finish one another’s sentences, know one another’s thoughts,
without speaking, have attained togetherness. This type of relationship is what all love
songs, romance novels and epic love stories try to convey.
#19.Seniors are less affected by commercialism, in terms of shopping for unnecessary
items or in excess.
The last area, which is the most fun, and includes a number of miscellaneous
items, is what I see as the total “Freedom to Explore.” Who knew being a senior could be so much fun?
#20.The human brain improves with age and continues to grow stronger in
understanding concepts and ideas, as long as it is exercised properly; pursuing any new
area of interest or study is one way to keep sharp. One’s problem solving ability
improves and the joy of learning prevents stagnation.
#21.One’s ego has been somewhat tamed, youthful petulance (or irritability) can
become a thing of the past and one is less quick to anger.
#22. Peer pressure is also a thing of the past; seniors care less about what others may
think or say, in terms of one’s conduct or outward appearance.
#23.Gender issues and sexual politics are no longer bones of contention, unless of
course one chooses to continue waging the battle.
#24.Golden Oldies are now considered classics, and many of our favorite musicians are
still considered super stars, which makes grandparents walking history books for their
#25.Speaking of grandkids, now seniors can enjoy the freedom of spoiling “the kids” as
much as they please, without having to suffer the consequences.
#26. AND, one of the best of all benefits, seniors can enjoy seeing how their children
have grown into beautiful, productive adults; and if not, there is still time to correct any
How’s that for a beginning list of aging benefits? I challenge each of you to add to this
list and count your many blessings. Remember, your attitude is your choice! Can you
add to our list of benefits of being a senior?
By Lisa Correa