Tag Archives: aging

Healthy Aging Through Staying Connected

Healthy aging involves connections:

Healthy aging studies in recent years all continue to find that people who continue being active and involved with other people during their older years live longer, happier and healthier lives. Activities that have been identified as instrumental to healthy aging are volunteering, taking classes, engaging in hobbies, joining social groups, and pursuing spiritual or religious activities. Even if you’re confined to your home because of illness or disability, you may still maintain your connections with others by communicating over the telephone or e-mail. Maintaining connections with others through many of the following activities are some of the keys to healthy aging.

Healthy aging and volunteering:

It has been recognized for some time that there is a relationship between healthy aging and volunteering. Volunteering allows the opportunity for the elderly to use their skills and life experiences to benefit others. Hundreds and possibly thousands of organizations across the United States are happy to have elderly volunteers. Opportunities for volunteering are almost limitless, and may include working with other older adults in nursing homes, working with children or a multitude of other opportunities to benefit nonprofit or for-profit organizations and agencies.

Healthy aging and continuing education:

Lifelong learning is an interesting and effective way to continue to develop your mind as well as interact with other interesting people and learn new things. Many public libraries, community colleges and other public institutions offer a large variety of continuing education opportunities for the general public as well as many specific to the elderly. Classes may include anything from learning new languages, managing personal finances or even preparing income tax returns, as well as entertaining and creative topics such as music appreciation or painting.

Hobbies and social groups:

One of the best ways to maintain connections with others is through shared hobbies or mental and physical activities. You can either develop new hobbies or rediscover ones that you participated in at an earlier point in time. Although many activities can be done alone, you will usually find it is much more interesting and stimulating to do them with other people or groups. Hobbies that involve physical activity can be especially beneficial to an individual’s health. 

Healthy aging through spirituality and religion:

Many studies have found a connection between healthy aging and spirituality and/or religion. Spirituality and religion have been found to aid in the sense of belonging many older people need as well as providing a sense of meaning and comfort to their lives. While many people use the terms spirituality and religion synonymously, they are similar but not identical concepts. Spirituality is usually more associated with an individual’s feelings and experiences, and religion is more often associated with the actual institutions, structures and traditions associated with an individual’s religious connections. Most older people in America consider themselves to be both spiritual and religious.The following healthy aging benefits have been found to be associated with religion and spirituality:

A more positive attitude and sense of hope about an individual’s life, illnesses and circumstances.
The social elements of a religious community can be very helpful in maintaining connections among individuals.
Religion and spirituality seem to promote a sense of meaning and purpose in life, especially when a person is facing difficult experiences in their life. 
Many older people have found their religious community to provide the largest source of social support outside of their family, and their involvement in their religious community to be their most enjoyable form of voluntary social activity. They also find their religious community to be immensely helpful in assisting with carrying out their daily activities. Healthy aging benefits have also been found for people who attend religious services, in that they are also are more likely to be healthy, recover faster from illness or injury and also to live longer lives. Many people have found their religion to be the foundation of their ability to cope with health problems and stress, and a fundamental aspect of their healthy aging program.

Information adapted from the Merck Manual of Health and Aging

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist 


American Society’s Perception of Aging

American Society’s Perception of Aging

The statistical data and actuarial records relating to aging population trends and profiles throughout the United States are not only credible but astonishing. The life expectancy of a person born in 1900 was 47 years, and there were only 3 million persons 65 or older in that year. For a person today, the life expectancy is 75 years, and there are over 36 million senior citizens. In 1900 pneumonia, tuberculosis and gastroenteritis were the major causes of death. Today, heart disease and cancer are the major causes. People are living much longer.

If a person is already 65 years old, his or her average remaining lifetime is 17 years. If you are a descendant of long-lived ancestors, your genes are coded for an even longer life. It helps to be a woman, too. On average, American women live 8 years longer than men. Today, life expectancy for men is 71 years while life expectancy for women is 79 years. There are approximately four women to every three men in the 65 and over category. By 2030 it is predicted that there will be 58 million persons aged 65 or over and will constitute 17 percent of the entire population.

In most industrialized countries, 65 has become the mandatory age for retirement. This was first started by the Prussian Dictator, Bismarck, in an attempt to institute social reforms for his subjects. Retirement was considered a reward from the state for the worker’s many years of toil. During this turbulent period in history a person’s life expectancy was substantially shorter than it is today. Few workers spent any time in retirement. This practice continues today because it is the belief that a strong, efficient industrialized society can provide goods and services for all its citizens while “freeing” its senior citizens to enjoy the better aspects of life.

A society is a collection of formally and informally groups organized for mutual survival. The family, as the primary unit in our society, is responsible for child rearing and the social and moral training of our young. The family transmits roles and status to its members and provides a series of rewards, reinforcements, and prohibitions that direct our lives. Our society places a premium on youth. Exalting youth, we devote many years to the care, nurturance, and education of our young. The elderly are neither cherished, like the young, nor productive, like the middle-aged, our society makes them feel like obsolete, unwanted burdens.

Older persons, themselves, consciously or subconsciously subscribe to these prejudices. The most obvious one stems from the Puritan work ethic, “An idle mind (and hands) is the Devil’s workshop.” It’s ironic that the strongest proponents of the work ethic are the senior citizens. This attitude compounds the problems arising from the idleness they face after forced or voluntary retirement. Senior citizens encounter other prejudices as well. If they seek work, most employers will turn them down because they are “too old.” Studies indicate that, except when a life is at stake, persons working with or caring for senior citizens do not like their jobs and would prefer working with younger people.

Normally adjusted senior citizens are able to face very grim realities as long as the circumstances of their lives allow them to remain outgoing and communicative. For many, retirement means the opportunity to do the things have never had time to do. A certain amount of loneliness and depression is par for the course in normal aging in dealing with the losses that are inevitable.

Since biblical times, much has been written about the cognitive stability of older person, and studies have shown that senior citizens are as competent as anybody in making use of long-term memory to arrive at decisions. The fact that it may take a little longer is offset by the greater number of memories they have stored up. Having a wealth of experience to draw on contributes a perspective that the younger person simply can’t apply. For practical purposes, therefore, seniors can do anything just as well as their younger counterparts, as long as they are given time.

One of the most common assumptions about senior citizens is their excessive dependence on others. The evidence for dependence can be determined by three indicators-reliance on others for living arrangements, health care and finances, simply doesn’t support this idea. According to a study, 75 percent of senior citizens own their own homes. Typically these homes are in urban areas. Most of them are fully paid for, and therefore, relatively cheap to own. Practical problems do arise-for example, lack of transportation and difficulties getting up and down stairs. Certain State Offices of Aging operate programs to help meet the practical needs arising from incapacities that frequently occur after age 75 years and older.

Senior citizens are basically healthier than we think. The aged do suffer more chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease but have fewer acute illnesses than younger people. When acute illnesses do occur, they tend to be more serious.

There is an interesting theory on the loss of reserve energy or “second wind.” Lack of it seems to be what people allude to when they say they’re feeling older. Actually it’s stress and daily wear and tear rather than age, that impairs the body’s homeostatic (self-balancing) processes. Nonetheless, we blame age for the slowness we sometimes feel. There are many ways to minimize the loss of reserve energy: regular exercise, good nutrition, meditation and avoidance of smoking. All improve circulation of the blood and contribute to general feelings of well-being.

In our country, loss of income means loss of social status and presages loss of independence. Therefore, loss of income is a very strong and realistic source of fear. The four sources of income for senior citizens are: social security, pensions, salaries and public welfare programs. More than 18 percent of senior men and nearly 8 percent women are still working. In the last 30 years, there has also been a large increase in the number and value of pensions available to retirees. Senior citizens though sometimes in straitened circumstances, are remarkably proud and independent. The idea of being financially dependent is an old myth that does not hold water.

In other cultures, senior citizens are venerated as sages of wisdom and treated with the utmost respect. Our country has to switch its perspective from worshiping youth to valuing its senior citizens and what they have to offer. When this attitude change occurs, then people will stop dreading about “getting old.”

About the Author: Diane Wachowski

I am a retired master’s prepared nurse with a vast scope of experiences in the areas of mental and geriatric nursing. I have held clinical specialist positions in as well as administrative positions in which I developed programs for acute and long term clients on social skills, reality orientation, etc.
My Blog, Challenge of Aging, presents a thumbnail sketch of topics, such as normal aging, memory involvement in aging, bodily changes, common physical complications and so forth and then present suggestions on how to cope more effectively with these changes.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Diane_Wachowski

Aging: The beginning of the end?

Aging begins the moment an individual is born. A baby grows and matures toward becoming an adult and at some point in time the aging process changes toward one of decline. This decline is manifested in reduced functioning ultimately leading toward death as referred to by many as aging or “getting old”. The technical term for this decline resulting in reduced functioning ability, ultimately concluding in death is referred to as senescence.

The aging process and the resulting changes are becoming much more well-defined by medical science, which is now becoming very aware of how and why these changes occur. However, two “basic mysteries” remain: (1) whether aging and dying have a purpose, and (2) what that purpose is. These mysteries have resulted in people throughout history searching for a “fountain of youth” that will delay the aging process, and prolong the period of time available for people to remain vigorous, healthy young adults. And so it is, that scientific researchers as well as individuals continue to look for ways to slow or actually reverse the aging process.

Aging progress:

The science of aging continues to demonstrate exceptional progress. In the last century, life expectancy for people in the United States has grown phenomenally. As a result of this significant increase in life expectancy, the conceptions that many in our society have of aging and the elderly has changed dramatically. In actuality, improvements in life expectancy actually changed in two stages. First, the infant mortality rate plummeted largely because of improved sanitation and the increased availability of vaccines and treatments for childhood diseases, such as the antibiotics being developed. Second, diseases and disability have been reduced significantly or have been delayed among the elderly, because of improvements in health care and the continuing development of an increased emphasis on preventive medicine. In spite of all of this progress, even the healthiest (and luckiest) individuals do not usually live beyond the age of 130.

Information adapted from The Merck Manual of Health and Aging

Additional information and web page by Paul Susic Ph.D.Licensed Psychologist

Get Your Heart Pumping and Defy Aging

Get Your Heart Pumping and Defy Aging

One of the most important ways to defy aging is to focus on your heart health. Heart disease will kill one out of every three Americans. According to the American Heart Association, over 60 million Americans currently suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Continuing research is finding that heart disease can be prevented and even reversed with a healthy diet and some exercise. This age defying tip will focus on the exercise aspect of preventing heart disease.

Burn Those Calories

For optimum health and to reduce the incidence of heart disease you’ll need enough physical activity to burn between 3,500 and 6,500 calories a week (or about 500 – 950 a day). Most of that calorie burning will be used for normal daily activities, but scientific data shows that in addition to those calories burned for general physical activities you also need about 60 minutes a week of stamina training, or cardiovascular activity that elevates your heart rate to about 80% or more of your age-adjusted maximum (220 minus your age) for an extended period of time. More will be needed to get into excellent shape, but for obtaining optimum health, three 20 minute workouts per week at this heart rate should be sufficient to reduce the arterial aging usually associated with heart disease.

Several experts have concluded that while three 20 minute workouts might not be the best regimen for someone who needs lose 90 pounds or who wants to run the Boston Marathon, that is about the amount of exercise needed to increase your longevity. Exercise is known to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, which are the most important factors in arterial aging and heart disease. Even walking just a few minutes a day will lower your LDL cholesterol (lousy cholesterol) and will raise your HDL (healthy) cholesterol and decrease arterial inflammation among other benefits. Exercise also assists in preventing heart disease by strengthening blood vessels, forcing them to dilate and perhaps making them more elastic. It is highly recommended that you start out walking if you have not exercised in a while. Later, optimum activities would include some weight lifting and anaerobic activity such as cycling, swimming, or using an elliptical trainer to elevate your heart rate.

Don’t Turn into a Blimp

Also, perhaps one of the most important reasons for exercise is so you do not turn into a Goodyear blimp. You increase risk of heart disease in various ways if you’re seriously overweight. In addition to heart disease you may develop other risky conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, lipid disorders like high LDL levels, sleep apnea, and arthritis, which may inhibit your desire and ability to exercise. If your weight is carried around your waist, you are at even higher risk because the fat cells and abdominal fat secrete a hormone that directly increases inflammation in your blood vessels. A weight loss of even 5% of body weight will significantly improve your overall cardiovascular health and reduce the probability of heart disease. Finally, exercise is also known to reduce stress which is one of the greatest factors in aging your body in addition to its impact upon heart disease.

Some information adapted from You The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger by Michael F. Roizen M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz M.D.

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)