Many Kentuckians are either enjoying their retirement or looking forward to it. However, some approach their golden years with dread, worrying that their best years are behind them.
Stereotypes of aging include an unrewarding life, a decrease in physical activity and mobility, an inability to contribute to society, mental decline, loneliness, and depression.
But Deborah Danner of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging says this viewpoint is shifting, and rightfully so.
“These negative stereotypes are being shattered by the current active generation of older adults,” says Danner, director of the Education Core for the Alzheimer’s Disease Center. “These people are taking responsibility for their health and are continuing to keep their physical and mental capabilities sharp. And they are being rewarded for their efforts by finding enjoyment and satisfaction in their later years.”
Aging gracefully takes work, Danner notes. Regular exercise, determined in part by an individual’s physician, and a healthy diet of good food choices are keys to a sound body and good mental health. Individuals should seek activities that stimulate the mind, including reading, taking classes, doing word games or puzzles, and staying connected with family and friends.
By adopting these habits, people can make an easier transition into their elder years, while cutting back on their risk for conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Every decade of life comes with different demands, but Danner says anyone can benefit from these simple guidelines:
• Maintain a healthy weight. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Get regular exercise. Most healthy individuals can handle at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week, regardless of age.
• Avoid smoking and heavy drinking.
• Keep a positive attitude when dealing with stress.
• Keep your support system going strong. Make time to see family and friends.