“What is Age?”
“Just a number!”
It doesn’t matter whether you are 17 or seventy, if you decide to be happy, healthy and enjoy life!
Bright examples of the likes of Pandit Ravishankar who, at the grand old age of 90 is still playing his Sitar so magnificently that his concerts are drawing capacity crowds. Let’s not forget the biggest star of Bollywood Amitabh Bachan who is still acting, even at the age of 60! Lata Mangeshkar is still belting out hit songs, while Gulzaar is still writing beautiful and soul touching poetry along with hit scripts!
Still we see that people have wrong assumptions about the old, when instead ‘Life begins after 40….’. We see ads talking about anti-ageing properties of creams, we see celebrities who go to extreme measures to look young. Everywhere you see there is an obsession of not aging and looking younger. While being young is celebrated, old age is something we feel we need to hide.
The obvious reason why we would all like to defy ageing and remain young is because getting old has been associated with illness, ailments, dependency and a general deterioration in quality of our life.
But we fail to note that old age is not cause of all these; it is ill health that is to be blamed.
So, how do you AGE HEALTHY?…Quite Simply … By Being ACTIVE!
Being physically active reduces the onset of many chronic diseases and reduces the physical decline in the elderly.
Benefits of staying Active in Old Age:
- Reduced Loss of Muscle Mass: As we grow older, our muscle mass reduces thus we experience reduced strength. But regular exercise can improve circulation and reduce loss of muscle mass.
- Prevent Falls: When we are active, we move constantly thus strengthen the joints while improving flexibility, which prevents them from falls or other accidents.
- Strengthen Bones: Regular weight bearing exercises- walking maintains bone strength and protects against fractures.
- Reduced Risk: For ailments- Blood pressure, Coronary heart disease and delay onset of Diabetes.
- Reduced Osteoarthritis Pain: Because of improved blood circulation and greater bone health, you would feel reduced osteoarthritis pain.
- Social and Emotional Benefits: Those who are active, feel better about themselves, remain happy, are more sociable because they can go out and visit others, they can sleep better.
Those who are active can maintain their balance, have control over their weight, can move around independently and are able to lift, pull and push things easily. Thus those who are active live a more happy, healthy and fulfilled life.
We have all heard about the health hazards caused due to smoking, but still many senior citizens continue to smoke. Studies suggest that smoking not only contributes to the fine wrinkles on your face but is also harmful to the health of your heart.
Regular Medical Check Ups:
Senior citizens should very importantly get regular checkups done. This is the best way to prevent chronic medical problems. Regular checkups help to fix whatever problem you have before they get worse.
Keep Busy? How?
Positive attitude helps to keep you healthy. Being positive and thinking about all the good things in your life even when things are not going right helps to remain calm and relaxed. A relaxed mind and a positive approach help to improve your immunity and gain good health.
How to Stay Active?
There are plenty of benefits of staying active in our senior years, but does that mean you have to buy expensive equipment or join gym to do so?– Definitely not.
Doctors believe that any kind of moderate exercise like walking, jogging, swimming, gardening, cycling are excellent to maintain a good fitness levels and also stay fit.
What about being Mentally Active?
According to Help Age International which in an organization working for elderly, “Most people’s mental abilities (memory, learning, creativity, intelligence) remain unchanged as they grow older, especially if they remain mentally active and involved (listening, talking, advising, reading, telling stories).”
Thus unlike what we think, old age is not about weak cognitive and memory, if we remain active and keep ourselves busy, we can definitely keep our wits about us. Further, research also shows that human brain can adapt and grow even in old age. The decline in mental abilities in old age is more because of degenerative diseases rather than old age. The other age related losses like poor memory and cognition is more due to mental inactivity rather than old age per se.
How to stay mentally active?
In old age, more activity equals to better health so like physical activity, more mental activity means increased connections between nerve cells.
A study conducted on 2000 seniors over the age of 65 who engage in exercising, reading and indulging in conversation had 38% less chance of suffering from Alzheimer’s. So, play games (Sudoku, puzzles, board games, card games), read interesting books or magazines, indulge in stimulating conversations, also socializing is also a good way of staying alert mentally.
Exercise: Exercise is the best way to remain healthy and fit at any age. Exercise in form of walking, jogging or even simple stretches can be very beneficial. Exercising, not only helps in preventing many diseases but also in fighting ageing process.
It is rightly said,
‘If you do not use your body, you will lose it.’
Exercise can also improve gait, balance, coordination, reaction time, and muscle strength—even in very old and frail elderly people. It also proves that current physical activity protects against hip fracture, reducing the risk by up to 50. Thus, people who regularly exercise are less likely to fall.
Group Walks: Walking is good, whether the outcome measurement is blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems or mental health.For people in their 60s, regular walking appears to lower the risk of dementia. Walking helps stave off dementia as it improves cerebral blood flow & lowers risk of vascular disease.Sitting is bad for cholesterol. Its bad for your back & muscles.
Story teller: Old parents make great storytellers. If your grandkids are too young, then you can tell stories to your grandkids very often or every day. And you can help your grandchildren in their studies.
“Books are a man’s best friend”
is a famous old adage and is very true. Many people like to read mythological books in old age. So next time you pass by a book stall, remember to buy one.
Laughter Club: You can also become a member of the laughter club as we all know that laughter is the best medicine. Laughter raises the serotonin levels in the brain and offers a ‘feel good’ factor. Exercising regularly will not only keep you active but will also decrease your risk of injury and age related diseases.
Kirtans: If you are devotional then go to kirtans and bhajans regularly. Going to kirtans and bhajans will not only keep you engaged but will also help in making new friends of the same age group, which is quite important as it helps you socialize.
Hobby: If you loved doing something but couldn’t do it because of work responsibilities and family then old age is the time right time for you to nurture your hobby. For instance, gardening, painting, writing etc.
Doing plenty of mentally-stimulating activities – such as playing chess, reading a newspaper, or attending a play – in old age helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Going out: Sitting home can be really boring for old people. Go for a stroll in the evening, meet friends. You can also go for plays, picnics etc with your friends.
Volunteer: Many people after retirement join some NGO and volunteer in many activities. If you are really interested in volunteering, join a NGO.
Factors like depression affect your health as you age; hence it is necessary to keep your mind busy and entertained by pursuing a hobby, solving crosswords or Sudoku. Solving puzzles stimulates your brain, improves memory and offers clarity of mind both short term and long term.
You can also learn new things that you enjoy as there is no age to learning, or you can volunteer to share your talents with others.
Working out your brain prevents depression and frustration and offers mental peace and good health.
Growing old is a natural process that we all are approaching little by little each day. By implementing the above mentioned tips in your day to day life will keep your body and mind fit, and help you to age gracefully.
“Be Active, Live Longer and Healthier!”