Aging can be a difficult topic to address, not least because it is rife with personal fears and uncertainties about losing independence and loved ones while growing more isolated or lonely. As with most challenging topics, however, the best solution is to confront it head-on with openness and optimism.
In doing so, you can gain more clarity and excitement about what your future will hold. While you can’t stop the clock from ticking any more than the next person, the attitude and behaviors you adopt will influence how you age and the type of life you live as a senior in Federal Way, Washington. Aging will still happen, but with the right perspective and pursuit of meaningful relationships and activities, you have the opportunity to age with grace.
How Do You Age Gracefully as a Senior?
The phrase “aging gracefully” gets thrown around a lot, but what exactly does that mean? Different people will provide different definitions based on their personal worldviews, experiences, and value systems. In general, however, successful aging is an umbrella term that encompasses several distinct areas of your life, including your physical health, psychological wellbeing, spiritual health, social wellbeing, and environment and economic security. Many of these attributes are intertwined with one another, as well as more tangible aspects in your life, such as your senior housing situation and your financial circumstances. It can be difficult to focus inward until you are situated in a secure environment, such as a Federal Way senior living community, where your daily needs are met on a consistent basis.
Whether you’re remaining in your home or transitioning to independent or assisted living, here is a closer look at some steps you can take to age gracefully in each area of your life.
Physical Health for Seniors
As bodies age, they experience deterioration that is natural, yet frustrating. Some of the main health concerns for older adults include:
- Cognitive decline
- Balance issues
- Oral health problems
- Heart disease
- Osteoarthritis or osteoporosis
- Respiratory diseases
- Influenza or pneumonia
- Vision or hearing loss
- Increased risk of cancer
While some of these common senior health issues are beyond your control, you can make a concerted effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle that contributes to your wellbeing, or encourage that same type of behavior for your aging parent or loved one.
Senior Wellness Tips
As is true for people of all ages, exercise and a nutritious diet are integral to physical health. However, a healthy diet (and good hydration habits) in your senior years may look different than it did when you were younger, as your nutritional needs change. You are likely to require fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight, and excessive sodium and spices may disagree with you in a new way. Also, alcohol consumption and tobacco use can be increasingly detrimental to your health as you age.
However, keep in mind that proper senior nutrition can vary from person to person. Based on your medical history, personal health concerns, and any medications you take, there may be certain criteria you should follow when it comes to nutrition. If you suffer from anemia, for example, your physician may encourage you to eat more meat or iron supplements. If you are on a medication that makes you feel nauseated, you may need to develop a plan on how to ensure you’re still consuming the nutritious foods and liquids you require to stay healthy and hydrated.
As for exercise, low-impact activities are often recommended for seniors. Walking, water aerobics, cycling, dance, Pilates, and yoga are especially helpful for retaining flexibility and agility and warding off excessive weight gain which could increase your risk for certain health conditions. In addition to aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises, you want to focus on activities that involve balance training. Exercising also can improve your mood and self-confidence and help you sleep better at night, which is a common issue for many older adults.
If you live in a retirement community in Federal Way, you have access to a variety of fitness classes and activities that are designed specifically for seniors. These generally take place in a group setting, where you can simultaneously feel motivated by your peers and enjoy socializing with them.
Another helpful senior health tip for you or your loved one is to take good care of your skin. That means wearing sunscreen and protective clothing; incorporating gentle products into your skin-care routine; staying hydrated, and getting a yearly cancer screening.
Ultimately, your healthcare provider is the best source of information for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you keep up with regular visits and get the physical tests and evaluations that are recommended for your age.
Psychological Wellbeing for Seniors
Because you experience several major life changes during your senior years, you may be more at risk for experiencing loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression. While that is completely normal, it’s not inevitable. You can take measures to address those debilitating emotional and psychological afflictions.
Counseling is positive for people of any age, but in your senior years, it may become an important part of successfully navigating life-altering experiences, including retirement, losing loved ones, being far away from family, or coming face to face with decreasing independence or physical health. Living in Federal Way, Washington, you have access to a variety of therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors to help you care for your mental health at your age.
While severe mental health problems should not be taken lightly and need to be treated clinically, your own mindset and habits are vital to maintaining your psychological wellbeing as a senior. If you are able to graciously and patiently accept the inevitable changes of aging, rather than viewing them as abnormalities or crises to be dealt with, you can better enjoy the positive aspects of aging. You know yourself better than you ever have and you have collected a valuable set of memories and experiences—along with knowledge and wisdom—that can help you feel confident, proud, and at peace with aging.
It also can be helpful for your psychological wellbeing to engage in interesting, new activities and programs, like volunteering with a local nonprofit, participating in a class to learn a new skill, traveling and sightseeing, or taking up a new hobby. These activities can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. They also may help keep your mind sharp and your mood elevated.
Spiritual Health for Seniors
Your spiritual well being is not intrinsically linked with religion, although many people find peace and comfort in their chosen faith. If you are committed to a specific faith or religion, be sure to maintain that connection by regularly visiting your place of worship and engaging in the activities that make you feel more secure and content. Even during COVID times, there are virtual study and discussion groups to join, or you can easily find recorded services and faith-based music through online sources.
In general, though, spiritual health is about feeding the very soul and essence of who you are and being at peace with yourself. As you age and enter retirement, you may find you cannot contribute to society in the ways you used to. That doesn’t make you obsolete. Rather, aging gracefully is about embracing new opportunities to take care of yourself, serve others and give back to your community. As a resident of an independent or assisted living community in Federal Way, you have a majority of your basic needs met. That means you have extra energy and time to channel outside of yourself.
In your free time, you can volunteer for causes you believe in or join philanthropic groups. You will get to meet new people and bond over a shared interest or passion. Plus, it makes life feel rewarding to give back to other people or specific causes. Additionally, you can pursue new activities and hobbies that help you continue evolving as a human and living your best life as you age.
Social Wellbeing for Seniors
Social wellbeing intersects with the other three categories, as cultivating a rewarding and meaningful social life will contribute to your physical, psychological, and spiritual health. That’s why you should spend time with your loved ones and friends as much as you can. Even if they are far away, technology has increased the ability to feed those relationships with telephone calls and video chats. Schedule a weekly story time with your grandchild in another state or video chat with your old neighbors. You can even play board games and watch movies with your loved ones online. Technology aside, you can also write letters to friends to keep in touch, which has the added benefit of bolstering your cognitive health.
However, it’s important that you also maintain a strong social network that physically surrounds you and is accessible. If the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed anything about human needs, it's that nothing can replace the joy of going out to eat, taking walks, or playing games in-person with your friends, family members, or peers. If you are feeling isolated or that you don’t have strong social connections, keep in mind it is never too late to make friends. Retirement communities host a full calendar of events and activities through which you can meet and socialize with your peers. Pursuing a new hobby, taking a class or volunteering are also good ways of making new relationships that improve your life. Once you’ve found a few people you click with, you can spend time with them outside of those activities. Having someone along as you go out to eat in Federal Way or visit new destinations around the State of Washington is both prudent and more pleasant, as it adheres to social distancing guidelines.
Finding a Place to Age Gracefully in Federal Way
Aging gracefully doesn’t always happen naturally. Often, you or your loved one have to be purposeful about cultivating the right mindset, habits, and lifestyle. In general, you have a better chance of aging successfully if you are situated in the right environment, which means a community in Federal Way that is secure, safe, and supportive of your whole self and your future. Village Green Retirement Campus provides exactly that. From comfortable accommodations and wellness services to a range of classes, events, and amenities, Village Green can provide you with the resources and support to help you age gracefully and enjoy life along the way.