According to U.S. News, 16 percent of the U.S. population in 2018 was 65 years or older. Aging can be a beautiful process for some, and a saddening journey for others.
While aging can cause wear and tear on one’s body, it doesn’t have to be a depressing experience to undergo.
We will discuss the following topics surrounding successful aging:
· What constitutes successful aging?
· What are the ways to age successfully?
· Medical advances to age successfully
What is successful aging?
Multiple factors can contribute to successful aging, but the main three components are good health, active engagement with life, and a happy life. One official definition of successful aging by the World Health Organization is “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age.”
Have good health
One of the main factors that can predict aging is cigarette and alcohol abuse. If you can stop consuming alcohol and eliminate smoking, you can help extend your lifespan by eliminating the diseases and cancers associated with them.
Ways to have good health include exercising, eating the right foods, therapy, and much more. We will discuss these factors in more depth in later sections that can be associated with improving your health.
Active engagement with life
This is more so geared towards those that are in the elderly stage of their life. In Rowe and Kahn’s famous three-factor model of successful aging, it includes two types of active engagement that senior citizens need: social support and productive activity.
Social support can involve “giving and receiving positive information, trust, care, love, esteem, network membership, and mutual obligation.” Social support can be divided into two parts: socioemotional support and instrumental support.
Socioemotional support can be any form of emotional support that provides affection, love, and esteem. On the other hand, instrumental support can be material items or just providing assistance or care to another.
These forms of active engagement can assist you with successful aging as a senior citizen.
Strive for a happy life
Being happy is essential to successful aging. Unfortunately, many senior citizens will experience depression. Geriatric depression and subsyndromal depression are two forms of depression that affect the elderly population.
Untreated depression can lead to a shortened lifespan and increased risk of suicide. You must have people and activities in your life as a senior citizen that can keep you feeling great.
So, what can you do to lead a happier lifestyle? There’s an abundance of ways in which you can increase happiness in your life to avoid bouts of depression that can linger. Read the list below for tips on happiness as an elder.
· Enjoy the outdoors: Just going outside to breathe in the natural, fresh air and absorbing some sunlight can be very beneficial to not only your mood but your happiness as well. If possible, aim to go outside at least once a day for a short walk or just sit on your porch for a while.
· Keep a sense of good humor: At an old age, it is important that you still laugh at things that happen in life and not take everything super seriously. Joke with your friends and watch comedy movies because laughter can be healthy for you.
· Find new interests: As you get older, you should try new things to keep you looking forward to the future. Whether it’s taking an art class, planting a garden, obtaining new hobbies, or playing a board game find things that bring joy and excitement to your life.
· Stay healthy: The fewer health problems you have, the happier you’ll be. Our health tends to slowly diminish as we age, so you need to ensure you are meeting with your doctor regularly for annual check-ups. We’ll discuss health more in a later section of this article.
· Stay in touch with family and friends: You need to have a strong support system during your senior years. They can help uplift you when you’re down and assist you when needed. If you live alone, reach out to them from time to time so you don’t become lonely and possibly fall into a deep depression.
· Volunteer: If you are physically able to, try to find ways you can give back to your community. Senior citizens have an abundance of free time once they are retired, so they can fill that time by volunteering.
· Smile: Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile? Here’s a challenge for you: When you wake up in the morning, the first thing you should do is smile. Starting with a positive attitude can help with aging significantly.
Happiness is so vital to successful aging and longevity, so be sure to incorporate as much of the above-mentioned tips into your life as a senior citizen.
What are the ways to age successfully?
We have addressed the mental, emotional, and social factors that can help with aging, but what else can you do? We will discuss a few concepts that you can apply to your lifestyle.
Enhance your diet
By now, we are all aware of the many benefits a good diet can entail for our health. However, if you are looking for certain foods that help with anti-aging, please view the list below.
- Oranges – Oranges can help with the hydration of your skin and cells. Oranges also contain Vitamin C, which makes collagen for your skin.
- Papayas – Papayas can help with skin elasticity as it contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Grapes – Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes, which can limit inflammation. It can control the effects of UV light and sun damage.
o Red bell peppers – These contain an abundance of antioxidants and Vitamin C, which produces collagen.
o Watercress – This vegetable has an abundance of nutrients (potassium, manganese, calcium, and phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, K, B-1, and B-2). Watercress can help circulate minerals in your body, as well as reducing lines and wrinkles in your skin.
o Spinach – Within spinach is vitamin C, which improves collagen production for smooth and tight skin. Vitamin A and K can strengthen your hair and reduce cell inflammation.
· Legumes & Grains:
o Oats – Oats are low-glycemic, meaning that they will not increase your blood pressure. They also contain a chemical that can prevent skin damage and reduce skin irritation.
o Walnuts – Walnuts provide omega-3 fatty acids and can lessen your chances of getting dementia. As the risk of heart disease increases as you age, walnuts can help by improving your cholesterol.
o Almonds – Almonds contain Vitamin E, which helps soften and nourish your skin. These nuts also can help protect your skin from sun damage.
o Salmon – Salmon can give your body the omega-3 fats you need, which can stop the spread and growth of skin cancer cells.
o Lean beef – Lean beef provides high-quality protein that helps build protein. You should aim to have 2-4-ounce servings at least 2-3 times a week.
This is only a small sample of the different foods that can reduce the aging process, so be sure to do some more of your research to find more.
Begin to exercise
Exercise tends to go hand-in-hand with dieting, as doing both together can provide you with the best results possible. There are certain exercises recommended for those wanting to focus on anti-aging.
Here’s a list of exercises you can practice for exercising.
· Sports such as tennis
Yoga is a form of exercising that focuses on breath control and meditation to improve your health and help you relax. It has been discovered that yoga can slow doing the aging process and reduce stress levels. If you are a senior citizen, yoga has a low impact on your body, compared to more intense exercises. Read about the benefits of yoga for anti aging purposes below.
· Increased flexibility: Yoga helps to stretch out your limbs to make your body more flexible. As you age, your body tends to stiffen up, which leads to discomfort and increased potential of injuries.
· Muscle mass retention: The older you get, the more muscle mass you will lose. With yoga exercises, you can help with retaining muscle mass.
· Hormonal changes: For women, menopause can cause them to have recurring hot flashes, which can be quite pleasant. It is possible yoga will help by decreasing the occurrence of hot flashes.
· Fixes sleep problems: Since yoga focuses on breath control, if you suffer from sleep issues such as insomnia, it can help by helping fall asleep faster and longer. As with any form of exercise, they can cause exhaustion, which alone can promote better sleeping.
· Helps manage pain: Using yoga can help when chronic illnesses arise when you age, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Yoga is adaptable to anyone, even if you are in a wheelchair or bedridden. Yoga can also be a tool for helping you meditate if you have a chronic illness.
· Lowers blood pressure: High blood pressure is a typical health problem that arises during the aging process. Yoga helps combat this issue if you practice it regularly.
If yoga seems to be a good fit for you, you can choose to either sign up for an in-person class or watch videos online.
Practice tai chi
According to Mayo Clinic, Tai Chi can be defined as a “noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching.” Tai chi can help reduce stress levels, increase your flexibility, and balance. Tai chi is often compared to yoga in terms of its benefits, so let’s see how beneficial tai chi can be towards anti-aging.
· Reduce knee pain: Osteoarthritis is a common problem amongst the elderly population. Practicing tai chi can not only reduce the pain of osteoarthritis but can also allow you to take less pain medication as well.
· Strength booster: Like yoga, tai chi is another option in which you can retain and even increase your muscle strength.
· Reduce inflammation: Inflammation to your body occurs more often as you age, which can increase your risk of obtaining a chronic illness. With tai chi, it can reduce inflammation by reversing the activation of inflammatory signaling pathways.
· Increased stem cell production: Many studies have been done that show proof that tai chi can increase the number of stem cells in the body. Stem cells can help with tissue repair and cell replacement in many disorders related to aging.
Both yoga and tai chi are great options for those who are in the later stages of life and even those who are still young adults. These practices combined with diet can have a great effect on the aging process.
Finding a purpose
Another important aspect of successful aging is having a purpose in life. As you age, you may begin to question what your purpose is if you feel as though you have accomplished everything you have strived for.
Studies have shown that those who feel as if they don’t have a purpose are likely to have a premature death compared to those that do. The tips provided in the previous section, “happy life,” can assist you in finding a purpose.
Unfortunately, the older you get, the more family members you will start to lose. This can take a toll on many as your family can be your strongest support system when aging. Familial relationships can help increase your overall health and well-being. This is especially important for people who are dependent but cannot afford to be put in a nursing facility or get a caregiver.
Learn something new
It’s never too late to learn a new skill or language. Ongoing intake of knowledge helps to exercise your brain, which begins to slowly lose some of its strength as you age. Learning a new skill can slow down cognitive aging of your brain. You must be still actively engaging in “brain exercises” to keep yourself mentally healthy.
Whether it is taking piano lessons, learning to cook, reading, or gardening, there are many ways to keep your brain engaged to reduce aging.
Meditation can tie in with practices of yoga and tai chi that were mentioned previously, but it can be a stand-alone activity as well. Meditation is typically done while sitting or lying done in a quiet and comfortable space. Meditation is a common activity done by many mainly to reduce stress, but there are other benefits as well. Check out the list below to see how meditation can help with anti-aging.
· Increases memory: Meditation can assist in improving both your short- and long-term memory.
· Saves cognitive function: If you are starting to show onset symptoms of declining cognitive function, meditating can preserve to help maintain function.
· Better digestion and circulation: Studies have shown that meditation can improve the circulation of blood and aid in digestion. This is a highly important benefit as circulation and digestion tend to worsen as you age.
· Reduces stress: As mentioned before, meditation can reduce your stress levels significantly.
· Fixes loneliness: As you age, you may begin to feel lonely more often than usual. Fortunately, meditation has been discovered to decrease the feeling of loneliness in the elderly population.
If you’re ready to do so, you can sign up for a meditation class to learn the basics of meditating. It can seem troublesome at first to focus and not get side-tracked, but with practice, you can become a successful meditator.
Many people who practice a religion find it to help guide them through life. Prayer and spirituality can be a great aid in helping you through the process if you are a part of a religion.
Spirituality is vital, especially during aging because it helps you “recognize that your role in life has a greater value than what you do every day. Spirituality can also be used as a way of coping with change or uncertainty.”
Prayer is an important aspect of spirituality that can reduce anti-aging significantly. Here are some benefits associated with prayer for aging.
· Provides hope: As you age, you may feel more hopeless and feel that the Grim Reaper is near. Prayer can help relieve those fears and doubts by giving you the optimism needed to keep moving forward.
· Stress reliever: A common benefit in this article, prayer can also provide relief to any stresses that enter your life.
· Lengthened lifespan: When you pray, you put less focus on factors that can shorten your lifespan and focus on the positives. This can help your body heal and live longer.
· Better heart health: Prayers helps with the regulation of your heartbeat, which can strengthen it. It has also been proven to “speed up the recovery of the heart following heart attacks and cardiac surgery.”
· More positive mindset: Getting older and running into the possibility of obtaining age-related chronic illnesses can be depressing for some, so staying positive by praying can have a significant impact on your overall health.
If you are not a religious person or don’t want to pray, please refer back to the sections on meditation, yoga, or tai chi as they may be a better fit for you.
Medical advances to age successfully
If you’re not too interested in successfully aging in the previous ways or just want to add another method, there are medical therapies you can pay for if you have the extra funds. We will discuss cryotherapy, testosterone replacement therapy, and stem cell therapy, which can help with the aging process.
Cryotherapy, specifically whole-body cryotherapy, is a fairly new form of therapy that involves the exposure of your body to cold temperatures. Multiple techniques can be implemented for this form of therapy, such as cold water, liquid nitrogen, a cold chamber, or ice pack. Temperatures for cryotherapy can range from -200 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that we have explained what cryotherapy, we will now look at the benefits associated with this therapy and how it can help with aging.
Research studies have discovered the following benefits of cryotherapy:
· Tightens skin: Due to cold temperatures being used in cryotherapy, it can cause blood vessels to constrict, leading to smoother and more firm skin. Cryotherapy can also reduce the size of your pores and reduce the build-up of dead skin cells.
· Controls blood flow: Improved blood flow has been mentioned multiple times in this article, but it is truly essential for successful aging. Cryotherapy activates the nervous system, which then releases endorphins to improve blood circulation.
· Fixes lymphatic drainage: Cryotherapy can fix damages that occur to the lymphatic system over time that leads to wrinkles, inflammation, and lines. Cryotherapy can influence lymphatic drainage to remove harmful toxins out of the body and introduce more antioxidants.
Testosterone replacement therapy
This therapy is geared towards men to help them with low amounts of testosterone. Testosterone begins to decline as men get older, which can lead to symptoms of aging, such as lack of interest in sex, increased body fat, decreased bone density, and possibly depression. It is not yet clear if testosterone replacement therapy is beneficial to men in their elderly years, but it is beneficial to men in earlier stages of life.
Testosterone replacement therapy adds testosterone to those suffering from low testosterone cells, which is known as hypogonadism. Testosterone can be administered via pellets, gels, patches, or injections. This therapy is said to reverse the effects of low testosterone, which can increase sex drive, boost mood, and help with blood cell production.
It is to be noted that this therapy has an abundance of side effects, so please do your research beforehand and speak with your primary care physician.
Stem cell therapy
The last therapy we will discuss is stem cell therapy. This form of therapy involves the use of stem cells, which help repair the body and replace any aging cells. Stem cells can rejuvenate not only your skin, but your joints, bones, and organs.
During the treatment process, hundreds of millions of stem cells are introduced to your body in a cryogenic form over several hours. The process is too painful, as the most discomfort you will experience is the pressure of the needles.
Stem cell therapy is a highly regarded form of therapy for anti-aging that can lead to overall renewal and rejuvenation of your body for successful aging.
Aging does not have to be a debilitating experience for you. We have discussed a multitude of ways in which you can improve or maintain your health to slow the aging process down and continue living a meaningful life.