As we mature, what it means to age well changes, but the goal should always be healthy aging based on what aging well means to each of us. You may know someone who is 80 or 90 years old—or older—and they look forward to every day with purpose and joy. How do they manage to keep that great attitude and spirit? And what can you do for yourself or someone you care about to ensure aging well is a reachable goal for both of you?
The concept of aging well is at the core of wanting to live a long life with quality of life throughout. Fundamentally, this means that healthy choices, our environment and our own behaviors are all connected to how we feel at every age. The good news is that being aware of how we approach just four key elements can help us maintain satisfying and healthier lives. It helps to think about what aging well means to you and how you approach these four elements. So, let’s look at the four key areas that we know from research and common sense will make a difference in simply aging or aging well.
Environment and Physical Abilities
Aging well includes living in an environment where you can do whatever comes your way. If your environment no longer supports the choices you want to make or your ability to move about confidently and safely, consider whether a change might help it be a better fit for your physical abilities. If a different environment is the best solution for maintaining independence, a move may be the smartest way to support a definition of aging well. If you are thinking about someone you care about, assisted living may be a great choice. Give this element thought and attention to understand how environment and physical ability fit with their definition of aging well. If you are thinking about a friend or a family member, have a conversation with them to consider whether the current environment supports wellness and healthy aging or a move is the best option.
Lifestyle and Interests
Do you feel well enough to be out and about? Does the idea of being with others sound like too much work, or do you look forward to engaging with others? Do you keep up with interests you have always cared about and maybe are trying some new ones? If so, you have a purposeful and healthy approach to lifestyle and interests. What is one of the easiest ways to know? Whether for yourself or a family member, think about the answer to this basic question: Is each new day greeted with optimism and curiosity?
Social and Emotional
Staying connected, whether within one’s own family or circle of friends, both old and new, is another important element of aging well. Being with others and feeling welcome, understood and needed can make a lot of difference to an overall sense of well-being. Just as you prioritized environment and abilities, and lifestyle and interests, consider where to prioritize social and emotional well-being. Not everyone that is alone is lonely. But if a person feels isolated and disconnected from others, then aging well becomes more difficult. This demonstrates how decisions about one element can impact another. For example, perhaps a change in environment would positively affect the ability to connect with others. Or connecting with others would make a welcome difference to lifestyle and interests. For a loved one, this is when a conversation about assisted living often begins.
Mind and Spirit
How about feelings in general? If there is a positive attitude and focus on what matters most each day, this may be a sign of aging well in areas related to mind and spirit. Knowing mind and spirit are in sync provides great peace of mind—no pun intended! But if there is a general sense that focus and purpose are not so clear anymore, be sure to consider the big picture. Often, one of the above areas will stand out as positive while others may clearly show where there is a barrier to aging well. If so, think about what should change. We all deserve to age well and live well at every age!
Aging Well Is a Process
Studies show that aging well means something different to every culture. We also know that what is important to one culture might mean less to another. This is good to keep in mind as we create a personal definition of aging well.
Begin with the above four key elements. Have an honest conversation about what they mean to you or to someone you care about. Does each element show that most days are as rich and fulfilling as possible? That is a wonderful goal to aim for—at every age. Knowing where change may be needed to reach this goal is a great first step to aging well.
Aging well is not something that just happens. It is a dynamic and interactive process that is affected by the choices we each make. As we all embrace the concept of aging well, we contribute to a world in which age is celebrated and aging well is possible for all.
Call us today to discover how we can help make your definition of aging well a reality for you or your loved one every day.