Grow old gracefully? Grow old disgracefully?
Actually what really matters is growing old positively!
Positive ageing is all about keeping a positive frame of mind, feeling good, staying fit & healthy and engaging in life as much as possible.
None of us can stop the ageing process: We can moan about that, or get on with living well. And oddly enough, people who take a positive approach tend to age more slowly, as the positive emotions they experience can actually slow down the ageing process.
You become what you think: First you have to accept what you can, and what you cannot change, then focus on the thoughts that make you feel good. Research from UCL has shown that negative thoughts raise the risks of developing Alzheimer’s.
Be Grateful: being grateful acknowledges the good in you, around you, and in others. A simple trick of writing down three new things that you are grateful for every morning is a powerful way to focus on these sources of good in your world.
Think positive, speak positive: Your words are important, as they are the main way that you interact with others. So speak only positive things. Don’t moan and complain all the time, we all know how irritating that can be, but rather look for nice things to say. Seek them out, and look for ways to compliment and encourage those around you. That way people will smile more when they are around you, and smiling is infectious, so their smiles will make you smile too.
Have a purpose in life: As you get older you have amassed more experience in life. Use that knowledge to select the activities that help you, and others, to feel good. Once you retire, you should seek to find new ways of contributing to your wellbeing, and that of others. We all need a rest after retiring, but too much rest can soon become idleness, lack of motivation, and boredom. Why not share your life experiences, your skills, and knowledge with a younger generation to help them lead fuller and happier lives.
Engage with others: Older age can be very isolating, especially after our careers end, or we lose a loved one. Research shows that people who contribute tend to live longer, and to live happier lives. There are lots of opportunities in our community to meet new friends, try new hobbies, and engage with others no matter how old you may be.
Keep learning: Just because you are old does not mean you know everything. There is always something new to learn from a dancing, to cooking, from how to wire a plug to painting or using a computer. Learning new things stimulates parts of your brain, improving blood flow and keeping your brain healthy. Research shows that anyone learning a new language is less likely to suffer dementia.
Mix with young people: The generations may now always see eye to eye, and you won’t be able to physically keep up with the youngsters like you used to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add to their lives in a positive way. Sharing some of your successes, and some of your failures, helps them turn into better adults. But remember, don’t tell them what to do, instead encourage and guide, but allow them to make the final choice. We all have to learn from our own mistakes even if you could see it coming, and please avoid saying, ” I told you so! ” as that’s just annoying. Rather ask them what lessons they have learnt, and how they are going to improve next time. Play games with your grandchildren, and learn from them too. You may be surprised how much you enjoy a Playstation, and they may be surprised at how much they enjoy Scrabble, cards or Backgammon. It is the spending time together that is precious.
Look after your social network: If you’re feeling lonely it may seem tempting to avoid social gatherings, but actually the opposite is true. Research shows that social interaction protects from dementia, so look after those relationships, because they will look after you.
Make Good Choices: You’ve lived a long life and earned the right to choose how you spend the rest of it. By being able to choose you have the power to shape how you live your life, and that promotes positive ageing. Get rid of the things that you struggle with and focus on the tings that you are good at.
Create your Legacy and live it now: The way you treat others is the way that they will treat you. Do you want to be remembered for complaining, or as a positive influence? Start living that life now to benefit from the positive energy that you radiate. What you leave behind you will be in other people’s memories, so make sure that they are good ones.
Find out more from your local team at Living Well in Later Life Worcestershire
Monitor how well you’re doing with LifeCurve, a new tool to help you keep track of how ageing is affecting you, and what you can do to help slow down that process