May has been proclaimed as Older Americans Month, celebrating the older citizens and their contribution to the life of the nation, raising awareness of social, economic, and health issues they face, and inspiring initiatives for improving their quality of life and accessibility of services. This year’s theme, Age Out Loud, is meant to reflect the change in the realities of aging and the views towards aging in the 21st century. It’s about what modern seniors have to say.
Aging nowadays is not the same as it used to be even a generation ago. Older people are now retiring later, are more willing to try new things, and are more involved in their communities. They set an admirable example that growing old doesn’t mean life is over, and that there’s a lot to pursue and enjoy even in your golden years. If anything, Aging Out Loud is about owning your age, being proud of it, and celebrating it.
It may sound inspiring, but in reality, many people are still very pessimistic about their age. Whether they are in their 70s, 60s, or even 50s or 40s, there are things that they feel they are just too old to do. With each passing year, we begin to restrict ourselves, following certain self-imposed “age-appropriate” boundaries. However, now is a great time to get old—given the advances in medicine, technology, and the evolving social attitudes towards aging—and the last thing you want to do is stay confined in those imaginary boundaries.
Living a vibrant life in your old age and enjoying it to the fullest is vital for your mental health, your physical well-being, and it even contributes to longevity. Here are a few steps to get you started on this whole idea of “aging out loud”
Aging Out Loud: Bringing the fun back into your life as a senior
Own your age. You can’t hit a pause button on time, so what’s the point of denying that you’re one year older than you were a year ago? Spend some time thinking about your own relationship with age. Are you comfortable sharing your age? Why or why not? Why would you ever want to lie about it? If you’re guilty of using the phrase “I’m too old for that,” next time you use it, stop for a moment and ask yourself why you think this way. If you can’t find a way to reconcile yourself with the idea of aging, find a role model, somebody who is confident and proud of their age, and see what you can learn from them.
Learn something new. To preserve healthy brain function into old age, it’s crucial to keep your brain hard at work, and you can do this by making it create new connections between neurons—in other words, by making it learn something new. Always wanted to master French but never had time for it? Wish you could take photos with a professional camera and then do some retouching on the computer? Now is the time to try. It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that you keep growing and developing and making your mental faculties stronger along the way.
Socialize with younger people. Of course, the majority of the folks you hang out with belong to your generation, but try making friends with younger people too. The easiest way is to befriend your neighbors and invite them over for a dinner from time to time. Socializing with the next generation will keep you in touch with reality—what is going on in the world and what people are talking about today—and will keep your mind in top shape, not to mention that you’ll feel much younger at heart.
Embrace the change. It’s true, you can’t stop aging, and even if you’re healthy and fit, it does take a toll on your body and mind. This, however, shouldn’t be a cause of despair or something to turn a blind eye to. Accept it and move on. The sooner you recognize the effects aging has on you, the sooner you’ll be able to take action. If you notice your muscles get weaker and your balance is off, start exercising for more strength and stability. If your memory fails you time and again, it’s time to make a plan to boost your brain capacity through new activities and diet.
Finally, you need to learn how to disassociate yourself from age. Yes, there is some degree of memory loss and energy decline, but on some days, it’s not your age that is to blame—sometimes, you’re just inattentive or simply tired. Your health and wellness in old age depend a lot on your spirit and your attitude. Embrace your age, and keep making an effort to enjoy your life until it becomes a habit.