By Kym Hance, CMC
There are a number of myths regarding aging. Some people may mistakenly believe that aging only means getting sick or disabled, while others may think that all adults face memory loss in their later years.
Even more people believe that once you reach a certain age, there is less that you can contribute to society and that you are done learning. All of these beliefs are absolutely false. In fact, many people find that the years following retirement are filled with health, vitality, and meaning.
Since we are all going to get to those golden years eventually, here are a few tips to consider that may help to make that stage of life some of the best years you’ll ever have:
1. Active Mindset. Keeping the brain active and fit is imperative to the health of older adults. Not only does it help stave off memory-loss illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia, but it also fosters executive function. Try word games and recall exercises. For example, find 5 red objects during a walk in the neighborhood and recall them when back home. Routines limit brain stimulation so introduce new foods or new ways of eating the same food. For example, replace canned peaches with freshly sliced ones. Also, try taking a different route to the grocery store or shopping center.
2. Balancing Act. In addition to exercises that build strength and improve flexibility and cardiovascular endurance, make sure to add balancing activities to the daily routine. Good balance requires maintaining a center of gravity over the base of support. Tai chi, yoga, walking on challenging surfaces and water exercises all enhance overall balance.
3. Dancing with the Seniors. Older adults getting regular physical exercise are 60 percent less likely to get dementia. Exercise increases oxygen to the brain and releases a protein that strengthens cells and neurons. Dance involves all of the above plus the cerebral activity present in learning and memory.