Does Getting Old Make You Anxious? Focus On Healthy Aging Instead!

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The other day, I was bumping around on the internet. Among the volumes of political headlines and celebrity who cares? fluff, this article caught my eye.

Diaper Rush: conquering a $9 billion dollar market no one wants to talk about
~ The time might not be far off when more adults need diapers than babies~

Really? Immediately, I had two thoughts. First: not me, not yet! And second: buy some stock in Depends!

Aging Well is a Hot Topic

Aging well is a hot topic for many of us these days. In America, we have one of the largest populations (the Baby Boomers) moving into their senior years. These folks are being called a “grey tsunami” and are expected to have a significant impact on the U.S. economy as they decline.

Never before in the history of the US will we have such a large segment of people 65 or older. It really is a good news/bad news development. The good news is that we are living longer, generally healthier lives. We are more aware of the effects of lifestyle choices and have information available to help us start a personal journey of aging gracefully by enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

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Aging Will be Expensive

The bad news is that longevity will cost more in healthcare dollars and will likely strain most retirement plans. And frankly, most Americans seem to have skimpy retirement accounts to rely on as they leave the workplace. Retirement has been completely redefined as traditional financial safeguards have disappeared. Just like a commitment to personal fitness, retirement savings will reflect the persistence and determination of each individual.

Aging is a Privilege

As uncomfortable as this topic is, it is a reality. Our population is aging and living longer. Gender, wealth, and possessions don’t matter; we all want to age gracefully. So, instead of viewing middle age as a time of decline, let’s celebrate it as a time of growth and self-discovery! In fact, studies have shown that people who maintain a positive attitude toward aging often live longer and healthier lives.

I am not a financial planner, a personal trainer, or an adult diaper trend futurist. However, one of my biggest personal goals is to make daily lifestyle choices that keep me aging well. Healthy aging is a gift you can give yourself and your family.

Aging well can also lead to greater self-confidence, a more positive outlook, and an overall sense of well-being. Embracing the realities of aging will have a positive impact on your body, mind, and soul. Prioritizing physical health, mental growth, and healthy relationships will help you live a more balanced life.

Healthy Aging is a Choice

One of the greatest gifts of being human is the ability to choose. We are given the responsibility for our lives, to live and work and play as we desire. Sometimes we get stuck making decisions that feel overwhelming or make us feel anxious. At other times, we just ignore the warning signs that are trying to get our attention.

Aging well is a choice. You have the freedom to choose how you age for the most part. Yes, there will be unforeseen health issues in your life, but for the large part, you will get to decide how you age. Healthy aging requires a commitment of time, effort, and research.

And remember, ignoring the signs of aging is still a choice.

If the thought of aging brings up anxiety, fear, or worry, you might benefit from talking to someone about it. It’s normal to have big emotions around aging. Feelings of sadness, melancholy, and fear can erupt when thinking about getting older. Make a plan to talk with a trusted friend or a counselor to share your upsetting emotions. It’s okay to need support if thinking about aging is overwhelming.

Talking with friends can help you understand your fears about aging.

The Basics of Aging Well

Every person has a unique physical biology. This includes mental and emotional health as well. The following five pillars of aging well are for general information. If you need more specific help or support, please contact your physician.

The Top 4 Things You Need For Healthy Aging

Sleep- Almost all studies have found that we need 7-9 hours a night of sleep. Apparently, aging affects our sleep patterns, leaving us struggling with a lack of sleep. For some of us, nighttime is when “busy brain” shows up.

Busy brain is my term to describe the daily details and personal B.S. that loops around your mind, an endless mental train track carrying a cargo of concerns. It usually starts right after you get up to pee around 2 a.m.  I find that writing down my concerns or my to-do list is the best way to stop my mind from juggling the dangers of eating too much bacon, my 401K, and finding the best push-up bra.

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. Poor sleep can lead to various health problems, including weight gain, heart disease, and cognitive decline. Regular, good-quality sleep can help maintain physical health and mental sharpness.

Healthy Aging and Exercise

Exercise– You have heard it before: Move it or lose it! All adults should get 5-6 hours a week of challenging exercise. Talk with your doctor to find what type of movement will work for your body.

As a woman over 50, my best workouts include HIIT, weightlifting, and long-duration/low-intensity cardio. I know that physical movement benefits my sleep, helps to drain my stress tank, and gives me a sense of gratitude for my body. If I skip a workout, I am generally cranky and sleepy all day.

Staying active can be achieved through a variety of activities. Regular physical exercise like walking, dancing, yoga or swimming can help maintain physical health. Research shows that regular exercise helps reduce the risk of dementia. Honestly, there is no downside to regular, intense, appropriate exercise; it is the foundation for whole-body health.

Regular, appropriate exercise is part of healthy aging.

Can Healthy Eating Affect Aging?

Healthy Eating– Commit to buying (and eating!) at least three organic fruits/veggies a day. Reduce processed carbohydrates to help your body balance insulin. Eating highly processed foods makes us middle-aged folk sleepy and chubby at minimum.

But even more concerning, science has shown that most disease originates from inflammation. Simply put, too much sugar and processed foods can push a body into a state of inflammation. Often, food sensitivities, insulin resistance, cancer, and obesity are linked to an inflammatory diet.

Choose to fuel your day with good, clean food. Making small nutritional changes will impact your long-term health.

A healthy diet is crucial for aging well. It provides the nutrients necessary for maintaining health, preventing disease, and keeping the mind sharp. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can contribute to overall health and longevity.

Signs You Are Aging Well

Aging well isn’t just about physical health and social connections. It’s also about maintaining a positive attitude and emotional well-being. And a big part of that is forgiveness. Holding onto grudges can be emotionally draining and harmful to our health. Forgiveness, on the other hand, can free us from the burden of resentment and allow us to focus on the positive aspects of our lives.

Forgiveness(This has been a big one for me this past year.) We all struggle with anger. At its worst, we want revenge on the ones who have hurt us. Often, we can’t stop thinking about what they did, rehearsing our opportunity to get them back.

But what if the person you are angry at is yourself?

Unforgiveness drains health, peace, and wholeness from our lives. Commit to living in a state of forgiveness. Your whole health depends on it: body, soul, and spirit. For the past year, I have focused on forgiving myself for my missteps and mindless choices from my late teens and early adulthood.

Self-forgiveness is often the key to a more peaceful life. When we are stuck in negative thought cycles, we unknowingly drain our energy. Letting go of regrets and painful history can help us move toward acceptance. When we accept what is true in our lives, we generally find that we have more energy.

Fighting against our regrets, missteps, and bad decisions is like driving with one foot on the gas and one foot on the break. We lurch forward only to be pulled back into the things we can’t forgive, reminding us again and again about our dumb decisions.

Self-forgiveness is part of healthy aging.

Letting Go of the Past

Self-forgiveness means you completely let go of your judgment and anger at your younger self. You choose to have compassion on that version of you that was confused and afraid. Each day, you offer love to the younger self who made bad decisions based on fear or ignorance.

I love the phrase I have heard around “social” lately: Know better, do better.  It is so true; once we know better, we can make the choice to do better. Self-awareness is a critical element of aging gracefully; we are responsible for our emotional health as well.

Aging Gracefully

While developing healthy emotions and good lifestyle habits cannot wholly prevent the signs of aging, they can certainly slow them down. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, maintaining a positive outlook, and engaging in activities you enjoy all contribute to aging well.

Remember, aging is a natural process, but creating a supportive lifestyle is essentially up to you.

A positive attitude can have a significant impact on the aging process. It can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and even boost the immune system. Women who maintain a positive outlook on life tend to age more gracefully and live longer healthier lives.

Aging gracefully is half action and half attitude. Making choices to support your body with healthy food and physical movement is the foundation of an engaged mind and an active lifestyle. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy all those retirement dollars you worked so hard to invest!

Aging Is Influenced By Your Choices

Remember, the earlier you commit to your physical, emotional, and mental health, the better your aging outlook. Your future self will thank you for being intentional with your time, energy, and resources.

Aging is a beautiful journey of growth, discovery, and self-improvement. So, let’s embrace it with open arms, a positive attitude, and a zest for life. Let’s stay active, nurture our relationships, pursue our passions, and, above all, forgive and let go of any negativity.

Remember, we’re not just growing older. We’re growing better.

So, instead of viewing middle age as the on-ramp to decline, let’s celebrate it as a time of growth and self-discovery! Leave your best tips for healthy aging in the comments below!

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Melane Ann is a writer, blogger, and life coach. In 2020, she turned her experience in midlife divorce and creating a new life for herself into midlifeismagical. With a master's in Marriage and Family Therapy, Melane focuses on helping women over 50 navigate their relationships and commit to healthy aging. She and her new husband share 7 children between them. Melane jokes that she has a black belt in blended families! In addition to her writing, Melane works virtually with her coaching clients from her home office.

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