As a who studies and promotes the successful aging of human beings, I want to see all of us becoming more mindful of our decisions and activities as we age. Gerontology is a social science that specifically addresses aging after 60, but I am a firm believer that positive aging begun early makes good sense. Paying attention to your future today, no matter what your age, is just the right thing to do (thank you, Quaker Oats and Wilford Brimley)!
Aging well----is that activity we do that is birthed in our attitudes and spreads to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual selves. In 1984, Drs. Kahn and Rowe defined "successful aging" and listed its three determining factors:
1. High capacity for physical and mental functioning
2. Low risk of disease and disability
3. An active engagement with life
You can guess which one of those I am going to talk about today! I address the third element and define "success in aging" as:
1. Proaction: Actively engaging with your aging process, choosing how you want to age.
2. Parameters: Realities of your health and your budget, and your choices within them.
3. Preferences: Your personal tastes and lifestyles, looking toward a joyful older age
There are so many variables in choices for positive aging; it is the good choices we make today that help us have better tomorrows. Being with the things we can control--sound nutritional choices, good exercise habits, mental strengthening through new activities, dancing, laughter, volunteering, practicing friendship, and positive attitudes, to name a few--has been proven to make us more able to cope with the challenges that aging can and does bring.
Actively engaging with your aging process--choosing how you want to age--means working within one's personal parameters--I can, I can't; I will, I won't--and those choices must begin immediately. Having a plan and working the plan-- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially--is the best use of your time from now on.
The importance of recognizing your own preferences is foundational in making good decisions. Preferences are all about our quality of life in old age, so be sure to let those who will care for you later know your personal likes and dislikes. It will make a tremendously positive difference in your aging experience. The truth is: "No one WANTS to age, but EVERYBODY wants to age well!©" When we improve quality of life for ourselves, those we influence, and those who love us, we really do achieve success in aging.