We are the people who comprise the legendary, diverse generation known to the world as The Baby Boomers. We grew up during the transformation of Post World War II period and helped shape America into a society filled with change and advancements, in the political, economic, social, and cultural spectrums. We lived through John F. Kennedy’s presidency, participated in The Civil Rights Movement, and protested The Vietnam War with the ever-so-groovy motto, “Make Love Not War.”
Progress on the technological and workforce fronts have also accompanied the grand-scale changes to which we have contributed. In the end, our diligence and efforts in cultivating our very own American Dream have resulted in great pride and comfort.
And now, as we gradually make our way to retirement, away from the hustle and bustle of our work-filled lives, there is one more issue we have to address to live up to the standard of our generation: aging. But in a wonderful, graceful way. We obviously can’t defy our genetic make-up, so wrinkles and graying hair may be inevitable, but who said we couldn’t battle factors like weight gain, memory loss, loneliness, and the unrelenting health issues?
We’ve faced an enormity of positive and negative events throughout our lifetime, and aging is one we will embrace with love. Our quest starts now!
Do what makes you happy. Sure everyone has a never-ending list of here-and-there tasks they need to do, but along with retirement comes much more free time. Use that free time to immerse yourself in new activities you’ve put on a hold for your career and family. Paint, knit, play a sport, read, travel, dance…the exhilaration and smiles you experience from it will have you de-stressed and teeming with positive energy. Being in such a state of mind will help you tackle other issues or goals you may have.
Nurture your relationships. Our kids grew up a while back, their kids are growing up now, and everyone is busy with their own life and constantly on the move. Don’t let distance or hectic schedules leave you feeling lonely. Make plans to visit friends and family, and have them come by and spend time with you, or make new friends by visiting a community or a religious center. If you’re married, look after your spouse and the special bond you share. Do what you used to do when the two of you were young and keep the romantic spark alive. Just being around a loved one and conversing with them will keep you uplifted and your mind engaged.
Stimulate your mind. Part of the reason why a massive portion of this nation’s population is afflicted with Alzheimer’s is because individuals in the old age often lose the willpower to do activities they used to do in the past. Loneliness, health issues, and the inability to deal with aging in a constructive manner usually result in not doing much at all, which slowly deteriorates the brain and cognitive capacities. Follow up on the news everyday to keep up with everything from world politics to sports, fashion, or music. Reading, solving puzzles, playing brain games, taking a class, interacting and conversing, and especially learning something new, like learning a new language or playing a new instrument, creates new neurons and keeps the brain cells continuously working. There is no such thing as too late to learn.
Treat your body like a temple. It is said everywhere but perhaps not enough—put healthy and nutrient-packed foods inside of you and results will be easy to see from your skin to your overall physique. Eating a balanced diet will improve your energy levels, allowing you to incorporate a variety of activities without feeling sluggish all the time. Here are some suggestions you will want to integrate into your regime:
a. Apples- whoever coined the phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” wasn’t lying. Apples are filled with phytonutrients, which prevent oxidative damage to the brain, thus decreasing the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
b. Wild Salmon- wild fish, especially salmon is extremely rich in protein, low in saturated fat, and high in omega-3 fatty acids, which greatly aid brain function.
c. Walnuts- like salmon, walnuts scream out omega-3’s and contain vitamins E & B6, which keep neural tissues healthy.
d. Whole grains- loaded in fiber, foods containing whole grains will have your digestive system at its best. They also improve circulation to the body, especially the brain.
e. Yogurt- while milk and cheese are dairy products with their share of benefits, yogurt is very high in protein and in vitamin B, which enhance nerve cell communication. It also is a natural source of calcium, the principal player in osteoporosis treatment alongside vitamin D.
Last but not least, consider taking supplements to ensure you are getting the full amount of vitamins and minerals that you may not be able to obtain from your diet alone.
Keep moving. Exercise in your later years is paramount to keeping in shape and preventing arthritis, osteoporosis, backaches and body pains. Swimming is an excellent total body workout and effective in weight loss. Yoga strengthens the body, calms the mind, and amplifies the connection between you and your soul. Weight bearing exercises will help with osteoporosis and arthritis, strengthening the bones, joints, and muscles. Even if you make it a point to go for a 10-minute brisk walk every day, your blood will be pumping, and your muscles will become more and more supple. No matter what exercise you do, choose one you enjoy to ensure long lasting success.
Reflect on your life. Reminiscing about the past keeps you in touch with yourself, rekindles fond memories with your loved ones, and is surprisingly healthy and healing. In order to live in happiness and peace, you want to come to terms with your life events instead of trying to obliterate them. If this means having to reflect with someone, a friend, a loved one, or a therapist, do it. Patching up relationships, letting go, and eradicating heavy burdens will empower you and put you in an emotionally stable state. You’ll be surprised how this feeling will shed age from your face down to your toes!
Make the difference you’re here to make. Now this is the gift, the “cherry on top” of aging. What have you been yearning to do? What change do you want to help create? Would you like to work with children? Our veterans? A medical cause perhaps? Help maintain clean air and water? Plant a community garden? Share your knowledge and experience with those following in your footsteps. The opportunities are endless—so make your mark!
Ready to start now? Twice a month we conduct a FREE yoga and meditation class by telephone, which you can do, seated in a chair. Sounds too easy? Even wimpy? Here’s my guarantee: if you join us and find the class too easy, I will personally schedule a free one-on-one with you to suit your needs.
By Michele Risa MA
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