Winter 2018–2019

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Celebrate aging by living well

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From diet to daily rituals, take control and live your best life.

In a paper titled "Successful Aging," published in The Gerontologist in 1961, professor Robert J. Havighurst said geriatric care's purpose was "adding life to the years" with the goal of "helping people to enjoy life and to get satisfaction from life." 

For most of us, a satisfactory life means good health, happiness and a sense of purpose. We won't find those things in the latest anti-aging supplement. They come from within.

Rather than resist the natural aging process, embrace it! Here are a few ways to live your best life at any age.

Move daily. Exercise keeps your spirits high, your blood pumping and your brain sharp. Meet mom, dad or both for a walk. Go the pool. Take a yoga class. Dance in the living room to your favorite pop songs. For those with mobility issues, dancing in your seat counts.

Eat from the garden. A healthy diet wards off illness, keeps weight in check and combats depression. Make sure you and your loved ones eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein. 

Adults over age 70 should take in plenty of fiber, calcium and antioxidant vitamins A, C and E for heart and bone health. Watch saturated fat and sodium. Healthy fats, such as those from salmon and olive oil, have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Talk to each other. A few leading questions about your loved one's childhood may spring up a wealth of information you never knew. Ask about your family history to start compiling a family legacy. Ask about Dad's work history or how mom managed through hardships.

Older adults have decades of knowledge to share. All you have to do is ask.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Stress makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. And because sleep is when we clear stress hormones from the brain, too much stress causes a vicious cycle of physical and emotional ills.

When you or your loved one feels overly stressed, practice deep belly breathing, inhaling and exhaling slowly. If symptoms persist, visit the doc.

Get social. Maintaining a social network is crucial to our physical and mental well-being. Bryan James, an epidemiologist at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, found that the cognitive decline rate was 70 percent lower in seniors with frequent social contact compared to their less social counterparts.

Encourage your loved one to learn new skills, volunteer, attend religious services and/or join social groups. Better yet, tag along.

Banish the idea that aging is a negative. Celebrate each new day by adding as much "life to the years" as possible.