Aging is a normal part of everyone’s lives. But have you ever wondered why some people live to old age with grace and joy? Good genes certainly help, but having an optimistic spirit and a sense of purpose also matter. Aging gracefully can mean different things to different people. For some seniors, it means accepting your age without trying to look or act younger than you are. For others, particularly those with physical challenges, aging gracefully is a euphemism that softens the hardships of growing older. Yet, aging gracefully is possible for all older people as it comes down to attitude and not what you look like or what activities you can or cannot do.
Today, you will see a lot of books, magazines, and even online articles about how to look younger. While being terrified of some wrinkles and sagging is common, there is so much more to aging well. Aging gracefully is not about trying to look young, but about living your best life and having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. In comparison to a bottle of wine, you can get better as you age with the right care. In this article, we are going to provide you with more information on what it means to age gracefully and the things that you can do to thrive in your golden years.
What Does It Mean to Age Gracefully?
Most of us were often surrounded by messages telling us that aging is a negative experience. But growing older is not a bad thing. In fact, the overall happiness of people tends to increase with age. One reason might be most of us typically face fewer stressors related to work and relationships as we grow older. But according to psychologists, they speculate that people also acquire a more balanced perspective through hard-earned experience.
Instead of comparing our situations to others’ and aiming for more worldly possessions, a growing awareness of our own mortality may make us value our lives more. Based on research, our attitude and connection to others influence our satisfaction with our lives. Our state of mind about aging can play a big role in how we approach it. That is why a lot of seniors do not see themselves as “old” at all.
Therefore, “old age” is not a static stage of life, and the phrase “you’re only as young as you feel” can be a good guide to graceful aging. Being able to stay open to new experiences and to grow and change are also key components of aging with self-esteem. These may include having strong social connections and trying out fun activities. Aging gracefully isn’t about how great you are when it comes to hiding outward signs of growing older, but how well you approach the activities in your daily life that make a difference.
Tips for Aging Gracefully
As people get older, it becomes harder to guess their age. It’s because a combination of genetics, lifestyle, and just plain luck can influence how old a person may look. Simply put, people all age differently. But some do look younger than others of the same age. Despite the fact that we are just responding to characteristics that are based on appearance, these outside factors frequently influence how we feel about our age. They may also affect how other people view us. As a result, many people become unhappy when they begin to experience the effects of aging.
Even while we should not worry about these signs, it might be challenging to do so at times. In our culture, aging symptoms are typically seen as something to be concealed rather than celebrated. Therefore, we don’t always appreciate the benefits of this life period. Even when we are told, for instance, that “60 is the new 40,” the underlying premise is that being 40 is fundamentally preferable to being 60.
However, aging gracefully does not necessarily mean you have to accept wrinkles and gay hair and learn to love them. What it means instead is to pay attention to what makes you feel best. With this, below are the different tips we can give for aging gracefully:
Take Good Care of Your Skin
The skin is the largest organ in your body, and taking good care of it can better protect your body from the elements, provide sensation, and regulate your body temperature. When people age, changes in their skin can be seen. It can sag and wrinkles may start to appear. But no worries, because there are ways that you can do in order to keep it looking and functioning at its best.
One of the best ways to take good care of your skin is by applying sunscreen at all times and wearing protective clothing when going outdoors. If you are into using skin care products, it is better to use gentle ones that offer anti-aging effects. You can also get yearly skin cancer screenings to know the health status of your skin. Lastly, always stay hydrated as this also helps in keeping your skin healthy and preventing it from becoming dry.
Exercising on a regular basis can help lower your risk of diseases, such as heart disease. Aside from that, it can also help you retain your mobility longer. For seniors, exercise may also help lower stress and improve sleep, skin, bone health, and mood.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, adults should do moderate-intensity exercise for around 2.5 to 5 hours a week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week. It is also great if you can perform muscle-strengthening activities of moderate intensity for two or more days a week. Some of the great exercises that seniors may perform include walking, cycling, swimming, and dancing.
One of the ways to age gracefully is by eating healthy foods. For older adults, some of the best foods that you can eat are fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole-grain, low-fat, and healthy fats. When cooking, avoid the use of solid fats and use oils instead. It is also best to avoid eating processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. To keep your blood pressure down, you also have to keep your salt intake to a minimum.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
Being happy and stress-free goes a long way when it comes to living and aging well. Therefore, for you to age gracefully, prioritizing your mental health is very important. There are many ways you can keep your mood elevated.
Spending time with your friends and loved ones is one of the ways to stay happy. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network can help improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Aside from that, having a pet may also help as they are known to lower stress and blood pressure, reduce loneliness, and boost the mood of older adults.
In addition to that, you should also learn to accept your age. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference. Also, taking the time to engage in activities that you enjoy is also another way to prioritize your mental health. Do things that will fuel your happiness, such as going outdoors, pursuing a new hobby, volunteering – whatever brings you joy.
Get Enough Sleep
Good sleep is very important for physical and mental health. The amount of sleep you need depends on your age. People who are over 18 need to have seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Getting enough sleep can help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce stress and depression, lower the risk of obesity, reduce inflammation, and improve focus and concentration, which are all beneficial for seniors.
A weighted blanket may also help in getting good sleep. Learn more about them by checking out our Ultimate Guide to Weighted Blankets.
Maintain Good Posture
Seniors are at risk for osteoporosis, muscle loss, and compression of the discs in the spine, which can result in stooped posture, aches, pains, and mobility limitations. Also, how you carry yourself influences how others view you. Therefore, maintaining good posture and mobility can help with all aspects of aging gracefully.
Improving your posture is more than just reminding yourself to stand up straight. Most of the time, you also have to retrain and strengthen your muscles. You can do this by doing simple stretching exercises or by enrolling in a yoga glass. Aside from that, whenever you are sitting, focus on engaging your core muscles and avoid thrusting your head too far forward. You may also talk to your doctor about supplements or medications that you can take that may help you maintain a good posture as you age.
Keep Proper Hygiene
Even seniors with flawless hygiene can develop a distinct odor, which is sometimes referred to as “old person smell.” But the correct term for this is nonenal. Contrary to popular belief, this smell is not caused by poor hygiene or lazy housekeeping, but the result of the normal skin-aging process.
This is because the skin produces omega-7 fatty acid, which degrades when it oxidizes on the skin, producing a chemical called 2-nonenal that has a marked odor. As people age, the skin produces more fatty acids, and the antioxidant abilities of the body decrease, which results in an increase in 2-nonenal production.
Sometimes, seniors may experience lifestyle changes that can make the smell stronger. For instance, the elderly may not bathe or shower as often if they are afraid that they might fall in the bathroom.
There are ways seniors can maintain proper hygiene and smell their best. These include bathing or showering regularly, moisturizing after bathing, and exfoliating the skin. Aside from that, wearing cotton clothing so that the skin can breathe easily is also a good idea. Also, do not forget to wash your laundry regularly to keep them smelling fresh.
Choose Your Attitude
Keep in mind that only you have the ability to make your day great. It is also only you that have the ability to change your bad day into a good day. You can do both of these by choosing to have a positive attitude over a negative attitude. Therefore, try to remind yourself every day that it is better to be thankful for each day that is given to you and do it to be the best you can be.
Forgive Yourself and Others
Forgiveness does not mean you are denying the other person’s responsibility for hurting you, and it also does not minimize or justify the wrong. Remember that forgiveness is intentional and voluntary wherein a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense by letting go of their own negative emotions.
Being able to forgive will allow you to heal. It can provide a relief that is like having the weight of the world lifted from your shoulders, which is also beneficial if you want to age gracefully. Therefore, learn to forgive yourself and others. If you are having trouble letting go, you may also consult a therapist, counselor, or spiritual advisor for support.
How to Accept Aging Gracefully
The natural progression of aging is a fact of life. Every person who lives long enough will eventually have to accept that they are no longer a young person. There are certainly genuine benefits to becoming older, but there are also some parts of aging that might be challenging to embrace.
Many of us find that as we become older, our bodies and minds don’t function as well as they once did. However, these modifications don’t necessarily spell the end of life as you know it. There are a lot of things you can do to enjoy your later years and, in turn, make it simpler to accept that you’re aging. Below are some of the ways how to accept aging gracefully:
Get in the Right Mindset
Most people today believe that they can be young forever by using the right skincare products and taking the right supplements. However, this is not true. As you age, it is better to try to develop realistic expectations of what getting older is actually like. However, you should not expect the worst and have a negative view of the future. You just need to accept that you won’t be able to do everything you did in your 20s. If you have realistic expectations about what you will and will not be able to do, transitioning to this period of life will be easier for you.
For instance, people who are 90 years old won’t probably be able to skateboard at the park. But that does not mean they won’t be able to take a stroll in the park with their friends or play their favorite instruments.
A lot of people tend to panic when they realize that they are getting older. It causes them to frantically search for ways, such as rushing out to buy lots of anti-aging products. But the best way to accept aging is to stay calm and take things one step at a time. When you are calm, you will be able to allow more sober reflection on the situation. Thinking clearly will allow you to come to terms with reality sooner. This way, it will be possible to begin accepting the changes that aging brings and find happiness in the new stage of your life.
There is actually nothing wrong with doing what you can to look and feel your best as you age. But part of accepting that you are getting older means you should not try to mask or hide your age from others or even from yourself. For example, if putting on a mask make your skin feel smoother or better, or if it helps slow wrinkling, that is great. However, avoid trying to do things to cover up your age. Stick to healthy activities that help you look your best.
Try, as much as you can, to reevaluate what it means to be attractive, emphasizing the full person rather than a young physique. While you are not going to look like a 20-year-old again, being attractive in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s means something different than what it did when you are in your 20s.
You can strive for a different, more mature form of beauty by being confident and healthy. It will foster in you a sense of attractiveness and self-worth that trying (unsuccessfully) to resemble your former self will not achieve. You might need to argue with your inner voice as a result of this. Due to the culture that we live in, you’re undoubtedly going to have an inside voice telling you “I look so old” or “I’m getting fat.” Speak up against that inner voice, and rebut it with affirmations like “I am healthy and loved.”
Embrace Your Past But Do Not Try to Relive It
You owe a lot of who you are to your past. Reflecting on where you’ve been can help you grow as a person, and reflecting on past changes can help you accept the current changes you are going through. However, trying to live in the past as a way to hold onto your youth simply causes you to put off accepting who you are now.
It’s natural and inevitable to feel some nostalgia but resist the urge to try to recreate the past. For instance, bear in mind that you might not be able to play as hard or as long as you used to if you wish to play football again to relive some of the joy you felt when you were younger. Most likely, you’ll need to start out slowly and gradually increase your strength and endurance. To be sure you are fit enough to participate, you might want to first speak with your doctor.
Be Proud and Grateful
It is better to be proud of what you have achieved and grateful for your life experiences as you age. Your viewpoint might be helpful. You might possess knowledge about life that is uncommon. Consider your past and look for any lessons you may learn from it. Consider how you may help others by sharing this knowledge.
To help you remember everything for which you are thankful, consider maintaining a gratitude notebook. Your happiness and well-being can be improved by keeping a gratitude notebook or even by simply sharing with a loved one a few things you are grateful for each day. You could say, for instance, that you are appreciative of your friends, a lovely sunset, or even just a wonderful cup of coffee. Keep adding things to your list every day, and periodically check it to remind yourself of the things for which you are thankful.
Aging gracefully is indeed more about being healthy and happy rather than keeping wrinkles at bay. Even though being happy and stress-free may not seem achievable when faced with setbacks or physical problems, always remember that focusing on the positive aspects of this stage of life can help make aging easier. If graceful aging means adapting to changes in a way that reflects your personal values, then it is important to remain positive, open, and flexible.
It is definitely possible to age gracefully. You may need help from time to time in order to overcome certain challenges, but aging also has its own rewards. Just make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do the things that bring you joy. It is also natural to worry about the challenges that aging can bring. Therefore, do not hesitate to speak to someone about your concerns. We hope this article helped you learn more about how to accept aging gracefully.
If your senior loved ones find it difficult to walk by themselves due to pains caused by medical conditions, they may benefit from using canes or crutches. For more information about these, you may read our Guide to Choosing Canes and Crutches for Seniors.