We often hear this term aging gracefully but what exactly does it mean? We often think of aging gracefully as a cliché, something that is unattainable or something to aspire to. Is it? Can we age in a way that is both natural as well as fulfilling without succumbing to societal pressure? The simple answer to this difficult question is yes. And it comes from a realization that aging gracefully can often mean different things to different people.
Human beings live very varied lifestyles and have different worldviews. This often comes from the way they were brought up, what and who they interacted with as well as other social and cultural influences on life. It therefore follows that what is considered graceful aging in one part, may not be what is considered graceful aging in a different part. But the beauty about it is that there are many similarities and universal truths about aging gracefully. Let us explore a few.
Accepting the inevitable aging process while also taking care of one’s bodily and mental well-being is what it means to age gracefully. This acceptance is the first step since everything else flows from here. One will find it easy to for example get involved in age appropriate activities once they accept their age and are not only happy with it, but enjoying it and making the most of it.
Regular exercise (active lifestyle)
Exercise does not just mean going to the gym. Different people have active jobs or lifestyles which are equal to if not more than a gym session. The main thing to remember here is to not only live an active lifestyle, but one that adheres to the body’s limits. The way you could stretch your body to its limits in the early 20s is not what you will do in your mid 40s or late 60s. Know the limits of your body while keeping an active lifestyle.
The thing with food is that there is more variety than you can imagine. Our tastes and preferences are formed depending on where we were brought up and what we were exposed to. But anyone who has been lucky enough to travel to different parts of the world can attest to the fact that cuisine is one of the most dynamic things we have in the world.
It is therefore easy to find cuisine that will be both healthy and yummy. Often times, when people think of healthy eating, the image that comes to mind is how boring and limited it is.
Resting, and especially getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for your body. This allows the body to rejuvenate and recharge. Sleep is important to all groups of people but as they age, people tend to disregard this to the detriment of their health. More often than not, people will neglect their health to make money and then spend the same money to regain their health. It is possible to find a balance between those two. The benefits of sleep are many and include boosting one’s immunity, avoiding stress, improving mental health, improve memory and cognitive function and much more.
Stress is one of the accelerating factors of disease. And if you can get this one thing under control, it will be a major step towards aging gracefully. Far from meaning that one is unaffected by the different factors that bring about stress, it speaks to learning to interpret the stressing factors in a way that does not harm you. For example, if you are stressed by something you can fix, fix it. If you are stressed by something you cannot do anything about, let it go and learn to live without it. How we view things, situations and experiences often affects stress. So it helps to build a positive mindset and learn to avoid personalization of issues. It also helps to control anxiety.
Social support and medical care
It’s also crucial to remember that aging gracefully does not entail foregoing necessary medical care or support. This could involve anything from receiving a hip replacement to taking medicine for a persistent disease. The objective is to age naturally, healthfully, and happily, which may entail getting medical help when necessary.
Man is a social animal and as such, it is important to have a person or people around you to share highs and lows with. Loving and being loved, when true and healthy, is a very strong factor in the health of a person and can contribute greatly to aging gracefully.
Growing older gracefully is a realistic objective rather than a cliché. It entails having a positive outlook on aging, taking care of oneself physically and emotionally, accepting the natural process of aging, and continuing to be active in life. Finding balance, being at ease with oneself and one’s age, and accepting the inevitable changes that come with aging are the keys to aging gracefully. This is especially so given the pressures that can be brought about by social media, plastic surgery and other ways people use to either stay young or look young.