As we age, there’s a stigma about whether we’re doing it all the right way. Successful aging is a concept that’s been around since the 1950s but only became popular in the 1990s with the book, Successful Aging. The idea implies there’s a way to succeed at aging, which we translate to mean there’s a way to fail at it, too.
This, of course, isn’t true – aging is a process and requires adjustment, but it isn’t a title to be won. Retirement years emphasize our ingrained habits, rather than improve them, much as we may wish we could. Our retired years are about a new phase in life, while successful aging applies to our overall well being. The modern interpretation of successful aging is a little gentler and more applicable to everyone. These tips make for a happier, healthier retirement.
What is Successful Aging?
Successful aging is having a fulfilled life, both physically and mentally. The old guard viewed it rather limitedly, saying those free of disease and disability, who lived an engaged life both mentally and physically, were living successfully. It’d be hard to argue that those aren’t wonderful qualities to live by, but our bodies wear out, and our minds naturally atrophy, which means only a fifth of seniors actually qualify for this mighty designation.
These days, successful aging is commonly thought of as an adaptive way of living to the fullest, which is not only achievable, it’s a positive and more productive way of viewing the aging process.
Retirement and Successful Aging
While it’s easy to think that aging and retirement go hand in hand, the mentality of aging begins long before we complete our working years. If you’re still working, take note! Our habits are reflections of how we live our lives, and when we retire, they become embedded even further, rather than resigned like your job.
In other words, if you want to be a walker during your retirement years, start today. Preparing for retirement means establishing good habits early to carry you through your senior years.
If you’re already retired, it’s important to make sure you’re active, both physically and mentally. This is probably more difficult now that you’re settled into a new phase – but all the more reason to engage! Activity doesn’t have to be serious, small changes go a big way, and what’s right for you might not be right for someone else, so take it slow and be forgiving of yourself.
The Best Way To Age
Studies show mental engagement is linked to the whole body. Social activities are wonderful for aging well. A happy, healthy mind is strong, and your body will be energized as well. In retirement, social activity takes a higher rank in our overall health, so everyone should strive for more fun with friends.
The quality of these interactions is much more important than the quantity. The idea is that we feel loved, supported, and encouraged. You don’t need a village around you, just a few solid close friends.
Those who feel lonely or isolated inadvertently experience a decline in social activities. Depression and strain are now said to be as bad for us as weak physical health. The best way to overcome these feelings is to start by making one close friend who you spend time with. Eventually, open that up to two or three friends. That may be all you need! It’s up to you and what’s best for your personal health, which, at the end of the day, is the real definition of successful aging.