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Active ageing

Quite simply said, active ageing starts with you taking control of your life and spending it the way you want to.

Older people who are active, stimulated and involved in the community enjoy a better quality of life and suffer fewer age-related illnesses.

Ask yourself what you would like to be doing in your spare time and what is stopping you. How can you work around these barriers to enjoy the life you want?

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Be on the lookout for information and activities that might be of interest. Check out the ‘What’s happening’ section of the newspaper, the notice board at the library, supermarket or community centre, church newsletters, and other newsletters which publicise upcoming events.

Take charge of your health

Physical health is critical to active ageing. It’s never too late to start leading a healthy lifestyle. If you are overweight, make a determined effort to lose a few kilograms by following a healthy diet. Go easy on the fats, processed foods and starch, eat more fresh fruit and veggies and drink plenty of water.

Keep moving

Brisk walks, gentle strolls, slow jogs, cycling, swimming, dancing – as long as you are on the move, you’ll feel better and your health will benefit.

Go for regular medical check-ups

Take your medication on time as prescribed by the doctor and behave

responsibly, especially if you have a medical condition such as high blood

pressure or diabetes.

Stay social

Maintaining friendships and social contact are an important part of active ageing, as is learning new things.

According to a survey conducted by Philips in the USA, the benefits of having adequate social relationships affect longevity comparable with quitting smoking and of greater benefit than avoiding obesity and lack of exercise.

Loneliness often comes with old age, especially if you have lost a friend or life partner. Try to find people with similar interests by joining a community group or club.

This can be difficult if you are naturally shy, but you can start by visiting a few places and talking to the people in charge. This will ensure you see at least one familiar face when you turn up for your first meeting.

Mastering modern technology and becoming comfortable using social media such as Facebook enables older people to connect with friends and family overseas in a simple, affordable and fun way.

Maintain a positive attitude

Many older people feel anxious or depressed as they face the challenges of ageing.

Here are five ways to continue enjoying your life, even if it has changed:

Gratitude – being grateful for what we have, what we do and who we are.

Generosity – giving back and helping others makes us feel happier and more content.

Reframing – ageing includes its share of losses and sorrows, but it’s how we deal with these that makes all the difference. Every negative experience presents opportunities to learn or to take a new path.

Curiosity – we are never too old to learn new things … about nature, about how things work, about ourselves. Being curious is what keeps us young at heart.

Flexibility – things change all the time for everyone. It’s important not to get too stuck in our ways.

Above all, remember to laugh. When we laugh our bodies release endorphins into the bloodstream, which makes us feel better. Laughing also lowers blood pressure and increases oxygen intake, which is linked to a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Don’t let old age get the better of you

Once you hang up the boots, so to speak, it is important to find age-related activities to unwind and for social interaction.

Older people who battle age-related health complications might find it challenging to motivate themselves to live a happy, balanced life.

However, it is important to find ways to enrich your days, to minimise your risk of isolation, loneliness and depression.

Keep moving:

Stay as active as you can. Chat with your doctor to find activities to help you, such as chair aerobics, gentle stretches or slow walks. You might find this relieves your aches and pains.

Keep social:

Try to get out and about as much as possible, rather than give in to hibernating in your favourite chair. Social interaction is stimulating. If you cannot leave the house, invite friends around or video call them.

Keep busy:

Find activities you can do, such as playing cards, doing arts and crafts, crossword puzzles, reading or listening to audiobooks.

Keep it real:

Do not lose yourself in a fictional world of TV dramas and soaps. Find documentaries to watch or autobiographies to read. These also make for good conversation starters.

Keep planning:

Set a daily goal, such as contacting a friend you have not heard from for a while or trying a new activity or a new recipe.

Keep researching:

How can you make your life more comfortable? What small home modifications can you make, such as bath handles or non-slip mats? Should you get a magnifying glass to help with small print or buy a shower chair?

  • Source: tafta.org.za



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