There are two ways of tackling old age that can make a difference in how you experience these years. You can remain optimistic, living your life as if you are young, participating in physical activities, and participating in social activities as if age does not matter or you can give into fears of aging so that you are crippled and depressed as each birthday passes.
Here are some ways to deal with the fears of aging:
- Know that modern science has changed to focus on the prevention of the diseases of aging so that people are living longer and healthier more now than even a couple of decades ago. If you regularly see your doctor and get preventative testing, you can be better prepared for the possibility of growing older healthier. Follow your doctor’s advice around things you can do to prevent the aging process from accelerating. This will help allay your fears around getting older so you can begin to enjoy these years more.
- Know that increased activity and a healthy diet can go a long way toward preventing disease and improving your physical appearance, as you get older. You are in charge of many of the lifestyle habits that get in the way of growing older gracefully. This means drinking alcohol in moderation, getting the right nutrients in your diet or through supplements, quitting smoking, and increasing your physical activity on a daily basis. Even if you have not had the healthiest habits up until this point in your life, you can change things around right now so that your body can heal and you will live longer and healthier. It is never too late to change your lifestyle habits toward better health.
- If your ancestors died young of cancer or lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease, know that this doesn’t have to be repeated in your generation. Many of these diseases happened to your ancestors because they didn’t know the relationship between lifestyle and aging, and they didn’t have access to the amazing medical advances that have made it difficult to die from a bacterial infection, heart disease, and lung disease. Many cancers and certainly cardiovascular diseases can be prevented or detected early enough so that you can avoid their complications. Be sure to see your doctor regularly so that you can be treated for early disease and reminded of those things you need to do in order to prevent advanced diseases of aging.
- Pretend that the calendar means nothing. You are not a different person just because you have had a birthday or two. If you continue in activities you did while you were younger and continue to stimulate your brain with mind-challenging activities, you will be reminded that you are not the old person the calendar seems to indicate you are. Age is just a number and it is what you do at the age you are at that determines how you are perceived by others and how you see yourself.
- Maintain social contacts throughout your older years. Evidence suggests that married men live longer than single men and those who maintain close friendships and other relationships will live happier and healthier lives for a longer period of time. Take the time to join a club with people who share your interests and maintain as many lifelong relationships as you can. Relationships are two-way streets so the more you decide that it’s up to you to maintain your half of any relationship, the healthier and longer your relationships will be.
- There are numerous great aspects to getting older, and taking the time to identify them and think about them can alleviate your fears. For example, without work you are free to do as you please every single day. Your lifetime of experience has led to a profound wisdom that makes life easier to live and more rewarding. There are seniors climbing mountains and traveling the world, they are energetic, and their biological age certainly does not match their chronological age.
- Talk to a therapist or a dear friend about your fears. Processing emotions begins with talk that allows all the feelings to come to the surface, and often fears become much bigger than they actually are when we keep them to ourselves. You are not alone in your fears, others experience the same, and you can process these feelings and walk through to the other side where you can actually look forward to and enjoy your older years.