Follow Your Heart: How Seniors Can Maintain Control Over Their Lives
Maintaining a positive and active quality of life can be difficult for people as they grow older. Isolation, physical limitations, depression, and anxiety are major problems for many seniors who lose touch with friends after retirement or after suffering a health setback. There’s no magic remedy for finding happiness in your senior years, though it’s a relatively simple proposition once you realize that pursuing happiness is still an important life goal. And the best way to achieve that is to do things that make you happy rather than doing things “experts” recommend. If you listen to your heart and follow your instincts, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s easy to just drift away from everyone and settle for a sedentary lifestyle that seems comfortable but leaves you feeling unsatisfied. If you live alone, which more than 40 percent of people age 65 and older do, you need to find ways to stay socially engaged. Seniors who live in isolation suffer mental and physical decline and are more apt to experience cognitive problems.
For example, you could start attending a church near you or return to one you once attended. Churches are great natural avenues to social interaction and engagement that keep your mental faculties sharp and your sense of well-being strong. What’s more, Church gives you a built-in emotional support group and somewhere to turn when you’re feeling sad and out of touch. Volunteerism is another way to climb out of an isolation rut. It promotes physical and mental activity and makes you feel needed, an important factor for an older person who lives alone.
Exercise and Socializing
You probably understand that it’s important to find ways to exercise and keep your body active, so why not combine exercise with social interaction by joining an exercise class with friends and have some fun? Staying fit alongside friends gives you a support group that can keep you engaged in exercise. Whatever exercise regimen you choose, make sure it’s within your physical capabilities and that it’s something you enjoy. Look for an exercise class that won’t stretch your budget — check with the local senior or community center, which may offer exercise classes specifically designed for older adults for little or no cost.
The Power of Music
The human brain has a unique, natural connection to the rhythms and tones of music. In fact, music has been shown to benefit older adults - playing music can alleviate stress and help keep one’s cognitive abilities sharp. Consider learning to play an instrument, such as a saxophone, a fun instrument to play and which has a tremendous tonal range. There are many opportunities online where you can learn to play for free (YouTube is a good resource), and you can readily find tips on how to purchase the right saxophone for you.
Stress Ages You
According to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, depression and stress are tied to the physical decline in seniors. Unfortunately, stress is with us regardless of our age, and so is the need to cope with it. Try to emphasize an attitude of gratitude and express thankfulness to others in your life, and remember that it’s empowering to accept that some things in life are beyond your control. Above all, try to maintain a sense of humor.
Paying for Care
Medicare covers many of your healthcare needs, but there are coverage gaps (such as dental and vision care) that you will need to fill using supplementary coverage. That’s where Medicare Advantage can come in handy. Check out what your Medicare Advantage options are in your state by checking out this handy online resource.
Try to avoid falling into the trap of settling for processed and junk foods, which are easy and convenient (and unhealthy). One way around this destructive habit is to schedule regular dinners with friends where everyone brings a healthy dish that encompasses the basic food groups, with an emphasis on vegetables, fiber, and protein.
Growing older doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice those things you really enjoy and that make life worth living. Keep pursuing happiness and follow your heart. Stay invested in relationships that mean the most to you and which reflect well on your life.
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