Aging starts the moment we are born, and it seems to be one of few constants in our life. How to accept aging, however, that’s not as straightforward.
During my time working with seniors I have seen those who have fought aging every step of the way and those that have accepted it gracefully. However, it is important to note that “fighting aging” can come with a level of acceptance. For example, the person who chooses to stay fit and active in order to maintain independence and health may be simultaneously fighting and accepting aging at the same time.
Indeed, friends and partners change, and so does our family structure, but with each passing day, we are inevitably getting older. “How to accept aging” and “How to age gracefully” seem to be the questions that lurk in our minds, a constant reminder of an older and physically challenging age that is to come.
Much of how we age relates to how we see aging. While in some cultures, aging is seen as a period of decline that leads to sickness and daily medication, in other cultures, it is praised as the person almost levels up and gains wisdom and applicable skills. How to age gracefully, therefore, depends on our take on aging and how we approach the topic.
Body Changes with Aging
Approaching the topic positively and constructively is not as easy as it seems. Looking around, it becomes apparent that aging leaves marks on the skin and the body. Wrinkles, graying hair, and receding hairline in men are all sure-tell signs that you are aging. It is also easy to see that some people simply bear age better than others and seem to enjoy the “golden period” in their lives more than others.
Your body changes as you age, and not all the changes need to be as apparent as wrinkles and hair loss. Indeed, most of the changes happen inside. Reduced sleep and mobility, slowing metabolism, and a feeling of tiredness seem to creep up on you, and you are left at a surprise of where all your vitality has gone.
This is the moment when you need to accept aging and the inevitable end. But far from a depressing experience of a problem that cannot be resolved, aging should be seen as entering the most productive and joyful period of your life.
Mind Changes with Aging
However, this period does not begin with aging and changes that you can see in your body. It rather begins with your attitude and outlook on these changes. While some complain about back and knee pain, others take measures to limit the effect of aging on their bodies. For this reason, many people jog in their 50s and 60s and manage to postpone signs of aging to their 70s and possibly even 80s.
Both men and women decide to take prevention measures early in their life to keep their younger appearance and mobility for as long as possible. Far from a coping mechanism or a magic wand that can erase your age, prevention, and a healthy lifestyle are there to prolong your mobility and independence. The goal is to reach a higher age through aging more slowly rather than through aging for a longer time.
In one example, I was working in a nursing home with a long-term female resident. She was not active in much of her life, and she rejected old age through denial and distraction. Her active husband, on the other hand, he was playing tennis all the way into his 90s, coming in to visit her. He was active right to the end. His passing was quick. She was docile and inactive. Her passing was long.
Aging as a Woman
A part of both physical and mental changes that can be seen as we age is reflected in menopause in women. Although it is seen as a signal that the body has entered old age and is accepted as a normal occurrence, menopause can be difficult to cope with. A sign of womanhood and fertility, periods mark a huge portion of a woman’s life. Having no reminder left about your womanly attributes can be difficult to deal with.
For this reason, many women turn to consult with both doctors and therapists to better cope with aging and to reaffirm that menopause also has positive effects on one’s body. More stable hormones and a body that can focus its strengths on itself instead of potential offspring have a lot to offer. Once the change has been accepted, a more peaceful and loving period of life can begin.
Aging as a Man
Limits to mobility, aching joints (especially in former professional athletes), and hair loss are all signs of aging that can be seen in men. These adaptations should be accepted as they can otherwise lead to increased levels of depression in mature men. As it always goes, accepting changes is the only way out of negative thoughts and your personal dark space.
Frequently reflecting on gracefully aging men can do wonders for a man who faces inevitable aging. Treatments, both for joints and hair loss, exist, and regular exercise is certain to improve strength and stamina. All of these cost little but offer a lot in return.
How to Accept Aging
Accepting changes that happen to your body is one of the ways that you can live and age gracefully. Being aware of the changes that are to come and preparing for them can make the voyage much easier to bear. The biggest challenge to accepting our aging bodies does not come from the physical changes, however. The challenge is…
Accepting Your Mortality
We shun the idea of death. Even when people are on their deathbed they can resist the idea that they are dying, and if they try to discuss it with family, a common response is “don’t talk like that.” This is a disservice to everyone, particularly the aging individual.
How to accept one’s mortality depends a lot on the individual, but most people find comfort in knowing that they are not alone. Death comes to us all.
People also find solace in faith. If faith in a particular religion is not something you adhere to, science can also lend a hand. Life is a cycle. It can be seen everywhere in nature. Decay leads to more life.
Surround Yourself with Family and Friends
Understanding how your social and family role changes can also help you assume the rightful place in both society and the family: far from someone who is useless, you become the pillar of your family and the bearer of the society.
I chose to name this blog Elder Guru for a reason. “Elder” denotes respect and wisdom in most societies. That’s the way we should view our elders, and viewing them that way depends – in part – on the elders themselves. Exhibit your wisdom. Stay active in society and family. Stay valuable.
Make Lifestyle Changes
The issues of declining health that were so prevalent in previous generations can today easily be mended with the right medication and prevention measures. Indeed, most doctors agree that the following changes can significantly delay the onset of signs of aging:
- Quitting smoking,
- Limiting daily alcohol intake,
- Avoiding red meats,
- Eating more vegetables and salads (including raw, unprocessed foods), and
- Staying mentally active.
These are not magic wands that will erase age from your face but are reasonable measures that just about anyone can undertake to ensure that their bodies and minds can remain as active and as youthful as they can be. Being mindful of the changes that happen to your body means limiting the negative effect that they can have on your psyche.
As all these things come in their due time, there is no need to rush them. Staying informed makes you bring educated decisions about both your life and your health.
Get Surgical Procedures – If They Make it Easier
Many did not have the easy life that they were hoping to have and that certain undesirable events can leave more marks on us than we would like. Financial hardship, illnesses, loss of a loved one, or addiction can all strike uninvited and leave marks on the body that remind us of a painful past and add to the turmoil of daily life.
On the other hand, scars and broken bones from adventures at a younger age, pregnancies, and weight fluctuations can also contribute to these marks on one’s body. Although not as bad as the first set, it is necessary to understand that a part of aging gracefully can also mean removing these marks.
Accepting an aging body does not imply that you should accept signs of hardship. After all, moving from poverty to richness is marked by switching houses or redecorating and is widely celebrated.
So why not apply the same reasoning to reconstructive procedures, taking up a sport at a mature age, or finally starting that daily SPF routine that your dermatologist has been asking you to start for the past two decades? Body procedures do not start with a scalpel but rather with being mindful of your daily activities and hobbies.
Learn to Accept Change
Learning that you can remove some signs of aging does not mean that you should run to a reconstructive or a cosmetic surgeon whenever you wish. Quite on the contrary, enhancing what you already have should be the primary goal. Eyelid ptosis removal can enhance your eyes, a tummy tuck can make you walk around the community swimming pool with pride again, and a good SPF application can prevent those burns that make you hate the sun for the rest of the summer.
Furthermore, taking up a sport does not mean denying the changes that happen to your body. Quite on the contrary, they mean accepting the changes but also acknowledging your ability to limit and prolong youthful mobility and a healthy heart. You cannot fight anything unless you accept it first. If you deny these changes, then what are you fighting for in the first place?
What Is the Meaning of Aging Gracefully?
Aging gracefully means being able to cope with the changes that happen to your body. Understanding that you have partial control over your life and the process of aging makes you make sane long-term decisions related to your health and your daily habits. Aging gracefully also means that you accept aging, but rather than being burdened by it, you enjoy the benefits that old age brings to you.
Why Is Aging a Good Thing?
Aging is a good thing because it adds value and happiness to your life. Being able to retire and enjoy your free time is just one of the perks that come with growing old. Whichever way you decide to spend your old age, you should know that you can have a big say in the quality of life that you have in old age and that you get to be the pillar of the family and a stronghold of the younger generations.
Do you Get Happier with Age?
Many get happier with age. Having more age means having experienced more issues and hardship than younger generations. It also means having learned more about how to cope with these issues and how to prevent them from happening in the future. Having fewer responsibilities is also one of the signs of mature age and should be embraced, as it also means having to do the things you like, as opposed to the things you have to do.
What is the Best Age of Life?
Different people think of different life periods as the best age of life. Many elderly say that old age is the best age to go through. This is so because there are fewer responsibilities, more free time, and more opportunities to enjoy everything that life has to offer to you. Choosing where you want to retire is one of the best things that can happen to one and an adventure in its own right.
Staying mindful of the changes that happen to your body and the mind as you age is the only true way to staying on track and aging gracefully. Accepting these changes is the first step to learning how you can limit them and postpone (quite significantly)any negative impacts they may have on your life.
While it is true that growing old is inevitable, growing sick and dependent is something that you have control and power over. Utilizing these and defining your own path to old age is the best thing that you can do to ensure peace and tranquility for yourself.