5 Useful Ways to Maintain a Positive Attitude Toward Aging

Two seniors laughing together

To quote author and women’s advocate Betty Friedan, "Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength."

Getting older might not be something we all look forward to, but aging is a reality we all have to face. And how we approach the passing of the years, say aging experts, has a lot to do with our happiness and health later in life.

Is a Positive Attitude the Fountain of Youth?

According to the medial journal, Psychology Today, positive attitudes about aging may be a "fountain of youth," as positive self-perceptions about getting older may slow down the aging process.

Recently, researchers found that having positive self-perceptions about the benefits of getting older can create a self-fulfilling prophecy by helping people stay mentally, physically, and psychologically younger. A positive attitude is believed to help insulate us against the common stressors and negative experiences that occur with age, and is also thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.

 On the flip side, researchers on aging say that various studies have found a strong correlation between negative perceptions about aging and physical frailty. Additionally, researchers tell us that physical frailty in older age is associated with lower cognitive abilities, when compared to peers who are less frail in older age. They say that frailty appears to trigger a domino effect that often cascades into dementia.

The Power of a Positive Attitude

The article, The Importance of a Positive Attitude, addresses the power of positive thinking and offers the following useful advice for people of all ages. “A positive attitude is the guide to leading a positive life.  Maintaining a positive attitude through the ups and the downs is important to every aspect of life: your social status, your work, your health and your relationships. If you’re feeling down and having a particularly negative outlook on the way things are going, just remember that attitude is everything and a positive attitude will lead you out of the darkest of times.”

Says Susan Irrgang, RN, LNHA, Executive Director at Saunders House, “Clearly, our attitude toward aging can have a direct and measurable impact on our lives — particularly in terms of our health and happiness. The good news is there are specific steps you can take to improve your outlook on life as you get older — all of which we embrace for our own residents here at Saunders Housethrough our life enrichment activities.

5 Steps to a More Positive Attitude Toward Aging

So, how do we achieve a more positive outlook on getting older?

Aging experts and researchers agree that the following lifestyle factors can be beneficial in improving your attitude about getting older and enhancing your quality of life. And it’s never too late to incorporate these behaviors into your daily routine.

1.       Stay physically active– Physical activity and exercise is highly beneficial to our physical and emotional health. Moderate daily exercise is an excellent way of reducing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening aging bones and improving attitude. Experts on aging say that a regular routine of walking and strength training is an ideal way for many older Americans to maintain their fitness and sense of well-being. Before starting an exercise program, consult your doctor to decide on a plan that’s right for you.

 2.       Be socially engaged – Maintaining existing social connections and creating new ones is also said to be vital to our physical and emotional health as we age. According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum, clinical neuropsychologistandauthor of Your Brain Healthy Lifestyle,” it is important for all older Americans to remain integrated in the community, to build a growing network of family and friends, and to be actively engaged in life.”

3.       Work on reducing your stress – While it is virtually impossible to avoid additional stress and negative experiences as we age, there are various useful ways to minimize and manage it. Different techniques work for different people, but many have found practices such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, walking, prayer and deep breathing exercises to be helpful. It is important to find a stress-reduction regimen that works for you because stress can be damaging to both mind and body. 

4.       Keep your brain active – Maintaining a healthy, active brain is another key component of emotional health and well-being as we age, and has also been linked to preventing or delaying dementia. Activities such as crossword puzzles, board games, reading, learning a second language, painting, listening to classical music and developing new skills are also considered valuable to brain health. Today, many older Americans are also taking classes at a local college and taking courses online to stimulate their minds.

5.       Engage in purposeful activities – Having a purpose in life and a reason to get up every morning is considered vital to your outlook on life, say aging experts. Think about the things that give your life meaning and purpose and make them a personal priority. Many older Americans find satisfaction and personal fulfillment by engaging in a favorite hobby or giving of themselves to others through volunteering. Whether it’s giving time to a local hospital, animal shelter or senior care community, researchers say that feeling useful can enhance self-worth and mental well-being.

By following these five tips, you can reduce the stress of aging and improve your outlook on life. When applied to getting older, “attitude is everything” has proven to be true!

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you might have, as well as to stay current on a variety of other senior health and care topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It’s a tradition we’re proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitationtraditional nursing carerestorative carememory carerespite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our Short-Term Rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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