Five Things You Should Know
Most people want to age with vitality and purpose in body, mind and spirit – but it takes more than just wishful thinking. Here are some simple strategies to help you age brilliantly.
1. Reject Ageism
Negative stereotypes of aging impact health beliefs, behaviors and outcomes, but research shows that many of the “deficits” blamed on age are actually due to lifestyle habits or a disease process. Train yourself to stop linking age with physical or cognitive decline, and consciously ban the phrase “I had a senior moment” from your vocabulary. Practice a positive mindset about aging well.
2. Be Relevant
Follow a passion; infuse your life with meaning and purpose. In true Montana tradition, take time to give as well as receive, and consciously seek ways to be of value to others.
3. Just Do It!
Ultimately, what you’re thinking, saying and DOING on a habitual basis determines your odds of aging well (even more than genetics). Embrace physical activity as a tool for independence. No excuses — get out and MOVE regularly and vigorously, and resistance train or regularly lift moderately heavy objects at least twice weekly (independence REQUIRES strength).
4. Practice Resilience
Montanans are resilient by nature, but anyone can consciously practice the building blocks of resilience — i.e. confidence, social engagement, mastery, self-esteem, gratitude, optimism, meaning and purpose. At age 81, avid horseback rider Eldo Heinle broke his back and neck. Seven weeks to the day after his surgery he was riding in the Montana mountains once again. His secret? Eldo never once believed he was finished. He took charge of his recovery, stayed socially connected, and knew he would ride again. Gradually adding distance and time, within months he rode 28 miles in Yellowstone Park with his group of friends.
5. Embrace Aging
Age has less to do with who you are or what you’re capable of than almost any other single factor. Create a mindset that embraces rather than “braces against” aging, and use all the tools available to you (resilience, activity, gratitude, the can-do Montana attitude) to age brilliantly.
Kay Van Norman is an internationally known writer, speaker, and wellness consultant. She is President of the consulting firm, Brilliant Aging, helping organizations support client well-being and build business with vital aging strategies. She also directed the Keiser Institute on Aging for three years and serves on both the International Council on Active Aging and American Senior Fitness Association boards. Kay has authored books, chapters, and scores of journal articles on aging well. She can be reached at www.kayvannorman.com