Michael Edlen: Employ Successful Aging Strategies

By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News

Although physical challenges or illness often make it difficult for people to maintain a positive attitude and healthy body as the decades go by, many positive actions can be taken that will play key parts in successful aging. Many of these involve choices that the individual or their family can make that will enhance the quality of daily living.

Prerequisites to healthy living include proper eating with a balanced diet, whether home-cooked, Meals On Wheels, or from other sources. The living environment should be assessed for safety, and improvements made that will help prevent accidents. We have explored many of these aspects in previous articles.

Perhaps the most basic decision that is essential is for aging individuals to stay as active as possible if they choose to stay healthier. This would include walking regularly, exercising to the extent they are able to, climbing stairs if they can, etc.

Equally as important as physical activity is for seniors to keep their minds as active as they can. Some examples are writing, engaging in group classes, continuous learning, reading a variety of books, attending webinars, etc. Computer-based activities will also enhance mental energy. Similarly, participating in new activities such as yoga, meditation, or exploring ideas out of one’s previous comfort zone can enhance mental energy.

Studies have found strong correlations between successful aging and particular types of attitudes as well as activities. For example, attitudes such as optimism, gratitude, resilience and a generally positive feeling about aging will help to maintain a greater degree of health for much longer.

Dr. Dilip Jeste runs an institute for research on aging in San Diego. His studies have identified various “psychosocial strategies for successful cognitive aging.” These include a “psychosocially simulating environment, learning new skills, and specific cognitive enhancing strategies.” These studies note that “It is never too early nor too late to start.”

Some of the conclusions reached in the studies are that successful cognitive and emotional aging is not primarily dependent on physical health or genetics. It was noted that attitudes, behavior and environment do have a major impact on aging.

Social engagement has also been found to be critical in successful aging. Participating in creative group projects, learning new skill sets, and sharing the attention of various pets have all resulted in greater alertness and improved energy in many settings. Programs in some senior care facilities have matched teenagers with seniors for certain periods during the day, and the benefits of the interaction have been notable to both groups.

The Edlen Team is committed to doing whatever it can to help seniors remain in their homes as long as they prefer and are able to. Copies of previous articles on the subject are available on request. Michael Edlen, a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist, has counseled hundreds of seniors regarding various options and housing choices. For more information, call (310) 230-7373 or email Michael@MichaelEdlen.com

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