Facts About Getting Older and Aging Well
These 10 facts about getting older may put a smile on your face and have you thinking about planning for retirement and beyond. Although aging is a natural part of life, little consideration is given to aging until the body begins to experience aches and pains.
If you live in a youth-focused culture, it’s easy to feel that aging and the associated wrinkles are something to fear. Ask grandparents and parents about aging and you might gain knowledge that can benefit you today. Gain insights into all those things you wish you knew before you needed to know them.
Below is a shortlist of 10 facts about getting older that you might hear from older adults:
1 – Bodies Age
There is no substitute for the benefits of remaining physically fit, active, and healthy as people age. But no one focuses on telling you this when you’re young because many take the body for granted.
The first of 10 facts of getting older is to relate life changes to things that you know about life. The body is like a car that benefits from regular maintenance and attention.
If you have aches and pains, this is likely the result of physical weakness or an injury especially after the age of 60. Regardless of your age, a regular routine of cardio and strength-building exercises can help you feel better and increase your physical endurance so you are more energized and ready to face each day.
2 Being in Poor Health is Expensive
Health care costs are one of the most significant costs you will have in your life besides buying a house. Good health in youth and beyond can reduce healthcare expenses as you age. If you are a caregiver for aging parents, this second of 10 facts of getting older will help you gain insights into what your life might be like tomorrow.
But what if your family has a long history of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and other health concerns? The earlier you learn about how to avoid these illnesses and pay attention to lifestyle and health the more you will be able to avoid significant costs for health care as you age and live the life of your dreams.
3 – Little Things Eventually Catch Up With You
In the first of the 10 facts about getting older, care for the body was related to care for a vehicle. How good are you at maintaining your car? Do you schedule regular oil changes, buy new tires when needed, and have mechanics perform ongoing maintenance?
The United States is a disposable society that focuses on the immediate gratification of buying a new car every 3 to 5 years on average. If one takes proper care of a car, a well-maintained automobile can last for 10 years or more.
Other societies with scarce resources have different value systems about health. Difficulty performing activities of daily living is one of the first things that catch up with older adults. Having increasing difficulty with walking or mobility, preparing meals, bathing or daily activities is one of the first indicators that the body is aging and care may be needed today in the near future.
Imagine living without a car payment and putting that money toward education, buying a house, or saving so that you can enjoy retirement. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to place priorities on the back burner until a health or family emergency calls our attention to a major problem. Rather than scramble to catch up, pay attention to the little things and maintain those you can so that you can be prepared for the unexpected.
4 – Do You Really Need All That Stuff?
Attics, basements, and extra bedrooms you rarely enter can be areas for accumulating things you rarely use. If you had to move out of your home today, what are the important things that you could not part with? Or could you walk away with only the clothes on your back and a few personal items?
Are there family members who might be able to use the items that you no longer use or of which you have tired? What about donating and giving away items to charity? If you’ve ever had to clean out a house after a parent passed away, you might realize how having more stuff can create more work. If you haven’t used an item in six months, think about whether you’d really miss it if it were gone.
The media advertises the latest products. All the things that you really don’t need but may want. Imagine going on a no stuff diet. Only buying and paying for the essentials like food and living expenses for a year or more?
While this might feel like a major habit adjustment you might be surprised about the benefits of simplifying your life and the money you’ll save because you don’t need ten pairs of shoes and twenty new outfits every year. This fourth suggestion from the 10 facts about getting older can decrease stress and worry about having too much to deal with when you’d rather be enjoying life.
5 – How Practical Will Your Home Be Over Time?
Different stages of life affect the need for homes with features you may need today but not in ten or twenty years. Did you purchase or build the ultimate home for you and your family? What works at one point in life no longer serves in another. The beauty, size, and location may be fabulous today.
Never be afraid to downsize to a more practical living arrangement. Simplification offers magical benefits to enjoy life and relationships rather than a continued focus on the effort to maintain a home and belongings. Think of ten things that you can give away today. Put this fifth suggestion of the 10 facts about getting older to work for you today.
With age, remaining single, becoming divorced, or becoming an empty nester, the practicality of size, upkeep, and maintenance of a home, may become more work or expense than you desire. Become mindful of planning five years into the future in all aspects of life. This is advice from older adults that younger adults ignore until they find themselves in a situation of needing care.
When you think about the home where you live, your family, and your career, and you have a plan for the future you will be in a better position to enjoy a less stressful life. Even if unexpected events happen, and they will, having a plan will allow you to feel more able to adapt to where life might be headed.
6 – Everyone May Need Care
Independence is a value of American culture. But what happens when you age and need care? The first thought is always that you won’t need care or that your children will care for you. While these thoughts are nice, they are impractical based on aging research.
What is the situation today in your family? Are you juggling life by raising children, caring for a spouse, grandparents, or aging parents? Do you consider yourself just “helping out”?
The idea of helping family is how caregiving begins. In some cultures where family takes care of family, adult children don’t consider themselves by the word caregivers. In some cultures, the word burden or feeling burdened by responsibilities doesn’t exist which is, in part, why families don’t talk about the idea of needing care when older.
By the time care responsibilities become a significant time commitment, the primary caregiver, usually a wife or adult daughter feels burdened and stressed about attempting to juggle work, family, and caring for dad or mom. Rather than avoid the topic because caregiving isn’t in your vocabulary, talk about what happens if you or a parent needs care. Create a family care plan today.
7 – Giving Up the Car Keys and Other Things You Enjoy
When young, the possibilities of life seem endless. As we move through life and experience challenges and a few tough lessons, adults can become more conservative or practical in our desires and dreams.
For example, you were an avid sports enthusiast. Maybe you played tennis, golf, hiked, or enjoyed skiing and you experienced an injury that has you sidelined. Rather than allow the injury to progress to a point of disability, you choose to be diligent about rehabilitation exercises so that you regain your physical function. But now, rather than participate aggressively in that sport you loved, you play more conservatively to avoid another serious injury.
For aging adults experiencing a serious fall, common injuries, or giving up the car keys are life-changing events. How will you participate in the usual activities of life like grocery shopping, attending appointments, and social events? What options exist?
Be open to learning and investigating new options. Refuse to view life-changing events as life-limiting events. Consider hiring paid caregivers instead of relying on family or friends to assist you.
What about moving to a retirement community where transportation is provided? Giving up the keys does not have to be the end of participation in life and enjoyable activities. Be attentive to changes in health and physical abilities so that you can be proactive in remaining active and doing the things you love even if on a smaller scale.
8 – Family at a Distance
Years ago family was born and lived in the same town for generations. Today this is no longer the norm. What happens when children move away from parents and support and assistance are needed due to changes in health?
Have you considered moving to live near your children? Do you expect children to uproot their lives, families, and careers to move home to care for a sick parent? Admittedly, there are times when moving is impractical.
Needing help or care is part of the unexpected dilemma of aging. What if you are alone or if the family is at a distance, what plans can you make today age in place? What friends or support systems exist for you to trade help or care support when needed? How many of these facts of aging can you consider today to prepare for tomorrow?
9 – Life Sneaks up on You
Grandparents and persons older than you will confirm that the years pass more quickly with age. Aging, becoming a caregiver, or needing care are the greatest unexpected events in life. Parents rarely discuss caregiving with young children even though parents may be caregivers for their aging parents.
When your health or the health of a parent fails, acknowledging the change and identifying ways to adapt to life will support success. When life throws you curves, and you are unsure what to do seek help and advice from professionals who will provide support, options, and advice.
10 – Living Alone or Being Isolated Can Pose Risks
The last of the 10 facts about aging may be one of the most important. Research and life events like the 2019 COVID pandemic confirm the challenges of social isolation.
Prior to this worldwide event, research confirmed that socially isolated individuals are more likely to be depressed, suffered from mental health challenges, and have a greater likelihood of suffering from dementia. Knowing this today, how can or will you plan your life so that you participate socially, build friendships and create your own network of people willing and able to care for you when you are older through reciprocal behaviors and habits you establish today?
10 Facts About Getting Older
Aging is part of life. Gaining uncommon wisdom presented in these 10 facts about getting older can help you live more actively and fearlessly as you age. Being aware of the unexpected will help you prepare so that surprises can be managed rather than having a significant or negative effect on your life.
By becoming aware of all of the caregiver support services and programs available you will reduce stress about needing care or accepting the role of becoming a caregiver. If you are ready to make a plan for aging or are caring for aging parents contact Pamela D Wilson today to schedule an eldercare consultation.
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