For the past twenty years, September has been recognized as Healthy Aging Month, an annual occurrence to raise awareness about the positive aspects of growing older – targeting the 70 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964) and more than 65 million members of Generation X (born between 1965 – 1980).
Both groups share common interests and desires: staying active and vital as long as possible, both physically and mentally. A recent study conducted by P. Klaiber, J.H. Wen, A. DeLongis, and N.L. Sin for the Journals of Gerontology in July, 2020, and reported by Dr. Janis Sayer of the Mather Institute, contends that older age is associated with higher levels of emotional wellness, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study measured perceptions about the stress brought on by COVID-19 (including safety, finances, and work-related concerns.).
The Mather Institute report suggests that older adults, on average, have been more psychologically resilient than younger adults during the pandemic. While both groups have felt considerable stress related to COVID-19, older adults felt they were better able to cope with stressors than did their younger counterparts by mentally reframing the situation as a growth opportunity. Younger and middle-aged adults polled had greater concerns about COVID-19 than did older adults related to emotional well-being, finances, and work.
Finding it difficult to look on the brighter side of life? Try these tips for aging healthfully, no matter what your age:
- Promote good physical health by being active and staying socially engaged with others, whether through your church, a volunteer organization, friends or family.
- Maintain a healthy diet and get regular check-ups and yearly physicals.
- Take charge of your health and research the many ways you can use your health insurance to take proactive steps in keeping healthy. You may be entitled to a variety of healthcare screenings as you get older; it’s important to know exactly what tests and screenings you should be having, based on your age and gender.
- Surround yourself with people who make you smile and laugh.
- Research your family tree and talk with your physician about your family history. Your health care provider can provide insight on inherited conditions and make suggestions on lifestyle changes to help you have the longest, healthiest life possible.
- Be realistic. Some living modifications may be necessary as people age; falls may become more prevalent and medication management may be needed.
- Remaining active and engaged is the best gift you can give yourself. Staying physically and mentally active and nurturing social connections with friends and family are all part of the bigger picture in helping to keep your mind and body well.