Jump to:Page Content
Join the conversation with other caregivers and get information from our home health care experts.
Staying positive and realistic about aging
The way aging is portrayed in the media, you would think 80 is the new 40. From the endless parade of tanned and tucked older celebrities looking half their age (and doing their own stunts) to the obsessive focus on seniors who accomplish superhuman feats—skydiving, winning chess tournaments, running marathons, hiking up Mt. Everest!—it’s enough to drive those who are dealing with a medical condition or loss of mobility into a state of resentment: Why am I sidelined while everyone else my age has a great life?
“In the media, everyone is airbrushed,” says Judy Santamaria, Director of Family Caregiver Support at VNSNY. “It isn’t always an accurate or full picture.” Scratch the seemingly-enviable surface and you’ll find that most seniors are dealing with health issues, though they might not be apparent at first glance. For instance, your 80-year-old neighbor who still plays tennis may be struggling with hearing loss or cognitive impairment.
How do you cope? Stay positive and focus on what you can do. “The key to healthy aging is to find new ways to engage yourself within your own limitations and vary your activities,” says Santamaria. Here are some ways to stay positive:
Start something new.
“If you think you’re too old to learn something new,” says Santamaria, “that might be the answer to your problem. Despite what we’ve all been told, an old dog can learn new tricks. Consider all the new things that you can do.” Many of the happiest seniors are those who’ve always dreamed about learning or doing something and are finally pursuing completely new hobbies and interests—playing bridge, going to museums, traveling, using social media, scrapbooking—and they’re having the time of their lives.
Setting goals for the future can give you a great sense of momentum. You may not be the tennis ace you once were, but if you can still walk well, why not sign up for a 3K charity walk? Or enroll in a year of language classes and then plan a trip to that country so you can try out your new speaking skills?
Make time to give back.
Many seniors say that what gives them the most satisfaction is giving back. Volunteering, finding a cause to support or even spending time with grandchildren or family can provide a deep sense of personal reward and, says Santamaria, “can give life real meaning.”
Don’t stop caring for your body.
Experts are finding that movement and exercise provide significant benefits—even to older people who’ve never exercised before. “So talk to your doctor,” says Santamaria, “then try walking. Try lifting light weights. Try Nordic walking with poles, which uses 95 percent of your muscles. Try Tai Chi to improve balance. Doing something you’ve never done before can help you find a whole new interest in life.”
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.