5 Steps to Staying Independent as We Age

The idea of ageing is one that many people dread. However, ageing shouldn’t necessarily be considered a bad thing. The later years of our lives can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling that we experience.

As we get older, it’s no surprise that some things start to get a bit more difficult, and things we used to do with ease may take a little more time. It’s important to remember that we may need to ask for help sometimes, and we may have to adapt our lives a little, but we don’t have to lose our independence. In fact, with the following steps, we can ensure that our independence as we age is not only maintained, but embraced and enjoyed.

 1. Stay Physically Active

We’ve written before about the importance of staying active as we age, but we’re mentioning it again because it’s so important. As we get older, we will start to notice differences in how our bodies work. Most of us are likely to experience changes in mobility as we age.

These changes are primarily due to muscle loss, as adults lose 3 to 8 per cent of their muscle mass per decade from the age of 40. Adults who do not lead a healthy lifestyle are typically at the higher end of this scale.

Simple daily routines and exercises can help to keep our bodies healthy as we age. Depending on our level of ability, there are different things that we can do to stay active. Going for a short walk or taking part in a yoga class are excellent forms of exercise. Alternatively, the Ageless Grace® workout is great for challenging both our body and our brain.

 2. Embrace New Technology

Many assume that technology is only for younger people who have been brought up in the digital environment. However, technology can help older people keep their independence for longer. Social media channels can help us stay in touch with friends and family who don’t live locally, and connected home technology, like smart locks, lighting, and automated thermostats can all make life more convenient and manageable for older adults.

 3. Be Proactive with Your Health

Many older adults avoid seeing a medical professional for help with health issues as they age, assuming that they are just a normal part of getting older. It can be difficult to tell whether the ailments we experience as we get older are due to normal ageing, or if they are impairments that could be improved with medical attention.

Physical problems are best treated when they are caught early. In order to identify health problems before they become big issues, learn what is normal for your ability and look for any subtle changes in the way that you are able to carry out your day-to-day activities. Health professionals can help you to minimise problems with reduced mobility, visual issues, bladder and bowel control, and hearing loss.

 4. Keep Your Mind Active

Cognitive decline is a common symptom of ageing. While experiencing some form of cognitive decline is normal as we age, for example, forgetting items at the shops or missing an appointment; there are things that we can do to try to minimise how often this occurs. Physical exercise can help to improve brain health, as it increases the flow of blood to the brain. Numerous studies have shown that older people who have consistently undertaken moderate activity have a lower risk of cognitive impairment in comparison to those that did less exercise.

Mental exercises can also strengthen the brain in the same way that physical exercise helps to strengthen the body. Reading a book, doing a jigsaw puzzle, playing chess, or doing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle can all help to keep the brain engaged and to retain cerebral capacity.

 5. Take Up a New Hobby

It may be a little more difficult for older adults to learn new skills, but our brains have an impressive ability to learn, even in our later years. Most of the time, our ability to learn comes down to confidence and believing in ourselves. There are a number of activity classes that are specifically designed for people who are 65 and over, providing an opportunity to learn new things such as computer or social media skills. Volunteering can also be an excellent way to interact socially, keep busy and feel like you are making a difference in the community.

As we are all starting to live longer, it’s important to embrace our independence as we age and take all the opportunities that are available to us while we can enjoy them.

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