The Importance of Aging and Friendship

Forging new friendships during your golden years may require a little extra effort. It always seemed effortless to make friends when younger. Back then, it seemed like every social interaction ended with a new best friend. Then you go to college and/or into the workforce, and what seemed to come easy is now more difficult.

As you get older, common life changes such as the loss of a spouse, retirement and issues with health can take their toll on your social life and, by extension, your well-being. Loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline, dementia and depression. It also has been linked to heart disease, stroke and blood pressure. In fact, one 2015 study famously concluded that a lack of social connections was as damaging to a person’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The conclusion? Friends are essential.

Just as loneliness can hurt our health, friendships can actually improve it in far-reaching (and sometimes surprising) ways. Studies have found socializing can strengthen the immune system. It can help us recover more quickly from illness, lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, sharpen memory and help us even get a better night’s sleep. Socializing can also improve our odds of living longer. According to one study, people with strong connections to family and friends have a 50% greater chance of outliving those with fewer social ties.

Nurturing friendships takes effort at any age. To keep yours in good order, it helps to make socializing part of your routine.  Regularly text or call friends to say you are thinking about them.  Set up the next get-together when on the first one and establish standing dates. Have lunch with a friend every three months or attend scheduled reunions.

Volunteering, taking a class, becoming involved in your faith community, exercising or joining a social group just for seniors are just a few ways to make friends.  Be patient as it may take a while to make these new connections, but they will happen. Try to always greet people with a smile. Be willing to chat, and pretty soon those chats may turn into longer conversations. People will get to know you and begin to like you, and you’ll begin to like them. And before you know it, you’ll have new friends and your new social community will feel more like home.

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over 14 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Aging with Integrity vs. Despair

Integrity versus despair is the eighth and final stage of Erik Erikson’s stage theory of psychological development. This stage begins at approximately age 65 and ends at death. Psychologists, counselors, and nurses today use the concepts of Erikson’s stages when providing care for aging patients.

Erikson’s theory suggests that people pass through eight distinctive developmental stages as they grow and change through life. While many tend to focus purely on childhood events, Erikson was one of the few theorists to look at development across the entire course of the lifespan. He was also one of the first to view the aging process itself as part of human development.

At each stage of psychosocial development, people are faced with a crisis that acts as a turning point in development. Successfully resolving the crisis leads to developing a psychological virtue that contributes to overall psychological well-being.

At the integrity versus despair stage, the key conflict centers on questioning whether or not the individual has led a meaningful, satisfying life.

What Are Integrity and Despair?

Integrity refers to a person’s ability to look back on their life with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Characteristics of integrity include:

  • Acceptance
  • A sense of wholeness
  • Lack of regret
  • Feeling at peace
  • A sense of success
  • Feelings of wisdom and acceptance

Despair refers to looking back on life with feelings of regret, shame, or disappointment. Characteristics of despair include:

  • Bitterness
  • Regret
  • Ruminating over mistakes
  • Feeling that life was wasted
  • Feeling unproductive
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness

The integrity versus despair stage begins as the aging adult begins to tackle the problem of his or her mortality. The onset of this stage is often triggered by life events such as retirement, the loss of a spouse, the loss of friends and acquaintances, facing a terminal illness, and other changes to major roles in life. During the integrity vs. despair stage, people reflect back on the life they lived and come away with either a sense of fulfillment from a life well lived or a sense of regret and despair over a life misspent.

Benefits of Integrity

There are a number of benefits to successfully achieving feelings of integrity at this stage of life. These benefits include:

  • Ego integrity: Successfully resolving the crisis at this stage leads to the development of what Erikson referred to as ego integrity.
  • Peace and fulfillment: People are able to look back at their life with a sense of contentment and face the end of life with a sense of wisdom and no regrets.
  • Wisdom: Erikson defined this wisdom as an “informed and detached concern with life itself even in the face of death itself.”

Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of integrity. Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain wisdom, even when confronting death.

Causes

There are a number of different factors that can influence the integrity versus despair stage of psychosocial development. Some factors that influence the outcome of this stage include:

  • Family: Having supportive relationships is an important aspect of the development of integrity and wisdom.
  • Work: People who feel a sense of pride in their work and accomplishments are more likely to experience feelings of fulfillment at this stage of life. 
  • Contributions: Those who reach this stage feeling that they have made valuable contributions to the world are more likely to achieve a sense of integrity. This often involves contributing to things that will outlast them through their children, friendships, mentorships, work, or community involvement.

Consequences of Despair

Despair can have serious consequences for a person’s health and well-being as they face the end of life. Research suggests that ego integrity and despair are important life-space development indicators of well-being.

Some of the consequences of despair include:

  • Increased depressive symptoms: Feelings of despair at this stage of life can be marked by feelings of low mood, hopelessness, sadness, and feelings of worthlessness, which are also symptoms of depression.
  • Increased regret: People who look back on their life with despair are more likely to ruminate over mistakes and feel regret for the life they have lived. 
  • Decreased life satisfaction: When people feel despair at this stage, they are also less likely to feel satisfied with their lives going forward. This can have an effect on their ability to cope with stress and decrease their resilience. Those who are unsuccessful during this phase will feel that their life has been wasted and will experience many regrets.  The individual will be left with feelings of bitterness and despair.

How to Improve Integrity

This stage of psychosocial development often depends on many of the events that occurred during earlier periods of life. However, there are things that you can do to help develop a greater sense of ego integrity as you age.

  • Start early: The things you do during middle age will play a role in your feelings about life as you age. Focus on doing things that will support your emotional wellness as you grow older, such as getting involved in your community and strengthening relationships to ensure you
  • Seek meaningful relationships: High-quality relationships with people you care about and who care about you are important. Focus on those relationships and work on making peace with relationships that may not be as strong.
  • Reframe your thinking: Rather than ruminating over regrets or wishing you can change the past, focus on reframing how you think about those events. For example, you might focus on what you learned from those experiences rather than dwelling on what you wish you could do differently.
  • Practice gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of your life rather than paying excessive attention to the negative. 

How to Decrease Despair

If you find yourself experiencing a sense of despair as you age, there are steps that you can take to improve your well-being. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Reach out to others: Focus on building social support. Discussing your feelings with friends and family can help, or look for new connections by participating in community groups or organizations.
  • Focus on the positive: Think about the memories and events that brought you feelings of pride and happiness.
  • Explore new experiences: Seek out activities that bring you pleasure and joy in the here-and-now.
  • Engage in spiritual practice: Find ways to explore your spirituality, which may help bring feelings of peace and well-being.
  • Get help: If you continue to struggle with feelings of despair, consider talking to your doctor or mental health professional. You may be experiencing symptoms of a condition such as depression or anxiety. Your doctor can recommend treatments that will help.

Contributor: verywellmind.com

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For 14 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

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Keys To Successful Aging

There are some who say that we should never use the term successful aging. They believe it’s ageist because either you’re a success at it or you’re a failure. Success is different for all of us, and we each have the right to define it for ourselves. Teaching kindergarten and shaping young minds might represent success to one person, while running a global corporation might represent success to another. What makes a successful marriage, business or vacation? You get to choose. Likewise, you get to decide what successful aging means to you. 

These 9 keys below will dramatically increase the odds because they’re informed by two decades of studying, interviewing and learning from hundreds of ordinary people living extraordinary lives into their 80s, 90s, and even 100s. These are the lessons learned from active centenarians.

1. Prehabilitate

Prehabilitation is simply positive lifestyle modification. It’s preparing for the inevitable health challenges and physical setbacks that are part of the human condition. The types of interventions available to us when we suffer those setbacks, and the extent and speed of our recovery afterward, are determined by our health and wellbeing at the time — not by our age. That makes regular exercise, better nutrition, good sleeping habits, and stress reduction aging’s ultimate no-brainer. 

2. Adapt and accommodate. 

The single most common denominator shared by those who live active lives into their 90s and 100s is loss. The key is not to mourn what’s lost but to celebrate what remains. To not identify with limitation but rather identify with possibility. To adapt to and accommodate the loss. Grandma Moses had a passion for embroidery. She had to give it up in her late 70s after developing a debilitating case of arthritis. She could have easily lost a creative passion that gave her life purpose. Instead, she took up painting because her arthritic fingers could still hold a big brush.  The rest is art history. She remained happily engaged in something she loved until her death at 101. 

3. Have purpose in your life. 

Purpose fuels the life force. It’s important to have something that gets us out of bed every morning. We need unfinished business. It’s common to hear about people passing away not long after retiring from a lengthy career or following the death of a spouse. That’s largely because the job or the relationship provided purpose. Your purpose doesn’t have to be profound. It must simply move you to action. It could be painting or reading or anything, as it was for Grandma Moses.  

4. Be curious and never stop learning. 

Curiosity leads directly to lifelong learning: the ongoing, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge. It promotes brain health, creates social connection, increases happiness, reduces stress, and leads to a multi-dimensional life. 

5. Love 

The two most common questions we ask ourselves just before death are: “Was I loved?” and “Did I love?” In other words, love is the true source of happiness. It’s also an important component of health. Research has proven that love raises our immunity, lowers our blood pressure, and reduces stress and depression. And it doesn’t have to be the romantic kind of love. Close friendships and loving family have the same effect.  

6. Stay socially engaged. 

We’re social animals who are hardwired to engage with others. It’s in our DNA. When we’re separated from the herd, we decline rapidly. Social relationships have a profound influence on mental and physical health, mortality risk, and longevity. Active, healthy, happy friends are the vaccine against sickness, depression and cognitive decline. Community is immunity.  

7. Avoid Negativity. 

Much has been written about the power of positive thinking but little about the power of negative thinking. Research reveals that negative begets negative far more than positive begets positive. While positive thinking alone won’t ensure the success of any endeavor, negative thinking alone will quickly doom it. Negative thinking leads directly to anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, unhealthy behaviors, and ultimately, sickness. As we age, positivity is important but avoiding negativity is crucial.   

8. Say Yes. Be an Amateur. 

As we age, we have to resist the urge to regress into that which is comfortable and familiar. We have to continue to say “Yes!” to life. We have to be willing to risk embarrassment, social unease, and failure. To be afraid to fail is to be afraid to live. Forget perfection. Develop a beginner’s mindset, which is open to new ideas and possibilities and understands that failure is nothing more than important feedback.  

9. Embrace Opportunities

This is my one key that incorporates all the others: Never let an opportunity pass you by, because none of us know what’s around the corner. I don’t believe that when one door closes another one opens. I believe that when you stop opening doors, the ones you’ve already opened begin to close. Don’t sit back. Lean in. 

Article: Marc Middleton (Growing Bolder)

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For 14 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Party of One After 50

For generations, if you were older and single, the assumption was that you weren’t happy about it.

Older women, especially, who were alone for any reason — widowhood, divorce, or simply not meeting the right person — were the recipients of sympathetic clucks and dating suggestions from well-meaning friends, and they often felt shy about attending events usually frequented by couples.

But increasingly, men and women in their 50s and 60s are thumbing their noses at the notion of couple-hood as an expectation — or even a desire.

“Dating? Absolutely not. I have zero interest,” says Janice (last name withheld), a divorced 59-year-old who lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

“I love my freedom and independence,” says entrepreneur Linda Rodin, who just turned 70.

Why single is the new normal

Whether or not people are choosing to stay single for good, statistics show that it’s become far more common, across all ages. While only 28% of U.S. adults were single in 1960, the number now stands at an astounding 45%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

This is fueled by a rising divorce rate among older Americans: The divorce rate for adults age 50 and up has doubled since the 1990s, according to a Pew Research Center report. And only 15% of divorced or widowed women say they want to remarry, found Pew, while 29% of men say the same.

“It used to be that only couples were invited to a party or a dinner. Now, there is no stigma to showing up single.” Helen Fisher, senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute

And while the overall rate of remarriage is high, single older boomers are starting to view remarriage less favorably, says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at the University of Washington.

“When they get divorced or widowed or have been single later in life, the motivation to pair up and shake up their life is muted,” she says. “And often, the conditions of past marriage were painful enough and difficult enough that they are loath to re-enter that fray.” 

Women, in particular, who were raised to feel they needed a husband for financial stability and validation, often find themselves reveling in their newfound independence, says Schwartz.

And then there’s the sweet freedom.

 Says Janice: “Yes, I have some caregiving responsibilities to my aging mom and my adult kids, but this is the first time in my life that my needs come first — and it’s pretty damn glorious.”

The perfect party of one

In the not too distant past, you may have found it hard to have a full social life as an older single. “It used to be that only couples were invited to a party or a dinner. You really couldn’t go out alone. But now, there is no stigma to showing up single — at all!” says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist who is senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and chief scientific officer at Match.com.

Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and a psychoanalyst, agrees. “If a single person has designed their life as they want it and filled it with things that reliably make them happy, they are really only looking to pair up with someone who truly enriches their life,” she says. 

That’s true for Rodin. “I see my family and friends, and I have the time to pursue my passions.

And by middle age, you may be well aware that there’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken. “The annual Single in America Survey I work on found that people over 60 are least likely to give up the lifestyle they have unless they are head over heels, and they often can’t be bothered to look,” says Fisher.

That makes sense to Janice. “I’m working harder than I imagined I would at this age, and I’m able to travel to the places I always wanted to — my life is full, and my heart is happy,” she says.

The gender gap

Prevailing wisdom has it that it’s primarily women who are happy alone (consider the “crazy cat lady” stereotype). And, as Pew reports, divorced or widowed men are far more likely than women to say they want to remarry.

But while it’s true that women dominate the single-by-choice crowd, men are increasingly jumping into the fray, says Schwartz. “When it comes to men, staying single may be the minority, but it’s not the anomaly.”

Robert (last name withheld), a divorced 63-year-old Midwesterner, is precisely one of those men. “I can’t tell anyone — my kids, my friends, my coworkers — that I don’t want to date. They’ll just lecture me. Everyone wants me to be on the dating sites, saying, ‘You’re such a catch’ and ‘You don’t deserve to be alone.’ But I don’t think being alone is punishment!”

Yes, there are things he misses. “I’ve had to learn how to grocery shop, deal with the dry-cleaning and a bunch of other things. It still sometimes feels weird to come home to a dark and empty house. And for sure, there are times when I would really like a warm body next to me in bed.”

Thinking about the compromises that warm body would entail, though, makes Robert think twice. “Real-life romance isn’t what you see in the movies,” he says, “It’s hard work. For me, there’s genuine pleasure in being able to crash on the couch, watch endless football, and leave a dirty dish by the sink.” 

Says Janice: “If Prince Charming appeared on my doorstep, perhaps it would be OK.  In the meantime, I am reveling in the freedom — after 30 years of cooking dinner every night — to just be at home and order whatever food I want, when I want.

“That, and the lack of laundry and having the bathroom to myself, are huge upsides for me right now.”

Contributor: Janet Siroto/Considerable

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over 13 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Aging Gracefully

Aging gracefully isn’t just about trying to look younger—it’s about living your best life and having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. You can even get better with age, with the right care. Aging gracefully is more about being healthy than keeping the wrinkles at bay. Here are a few tips on how you can age gracefully!

Exercise

Exercising regularly can significantly lower your risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and can help you retain your mobility longer. Exercise also lowers stress and improves sleep, skin and bone health, and your mood.

The Department of Health recommends that adults do:

  • 2½ – 5 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise, 1 ¼ – 2 ½ hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises, or a combination of the two
  • Muscle-strengthening activities of moderate intensity that involve all major muscle groups two or more days per week
  • Older adults should also focus on activities that include balance training in addition to aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises.

Evidence shows that people who even begin exercising later in life can also experience improved heart function.

Mental Health Matters

Being happy and keeping stress to a minimum plays a considerable role in helping you live and age well. Here are some helpful tips to help you stay happy.

  • Spend time with loved ones: Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity.
  • Accept your age:  People who maintain a positive attitude about aging live longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable, and learning to embrace it can make all the difference.
  • Do things you enjoy: Taking time to do things you enjoy will only fuel your happiness.

Healthy Food For Thought

Diet is shown to be an important part of how people age. Make sure you are paying attention to the glycemic index value of the foods you are consuming. Foods with a higher glycemic index value can raise your BMI, increase your waistline, and spike your blood sugar. Also, make sure you are consuming the recommended amounts of vitamins as they help contribute to bone health as you age.

Eating well is not just about your weight. It can also help protect you from certain health problems that occur more frequently among older adults. Eating unhealthy foods can increase your risk for some diseases. If you are concerned about your diet, talk with your doctor about ways you can make better food choices.

Also, drink plenty of water! It helps improve energy level, brain function and your skin.

Get Enough Sleep

Good sleep is important for your physical and mental health. Adults over the age of 18 should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Getting enough sleep has proven to:

  • Lower the risk of heart disease & stroke
  • Reduce stress & depression
  • Lower the risk of obesity
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve focus & concentration

Lower your stress

The effects of stress on your body are vast, ranging from premature aging and wrinkles to a higher risk of heart disease.

There are a number of proven ways to relieve stress including:

  • using relaxation techniques, such a meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga
  • exercising
  • getting adequate sleep
  • talking to a friend

Find New Social Activities

Finding new and meaningful hobbies, joining a group and social interests can help maintain a sense of purpose and keep you engaged throughout the course of your life. According to the National Institute on Aging people who engage in hobbies and leisure and social activities are happier and experience less depression.

Making new connections and having an active social life has been proven to help you live longer.

Make sure you maintain a healthy lifestyle, surround yourself with people you love, and do things that bring you joy!

Contributor: Augusta Health

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For 13 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

How to Prevent Social Isolation During Covid-19 from Making Loneliness Worse

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One of COVID-19’s harshest ironies: Just when we need each other more, we’re being forced apart.

America had a chronic loneliness problem before COVID-19, but the battle to stop the spread of the disease is poised to dramatically increase the risk for loneliness, says 19th U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. Social distancing, while a vital strategy to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, can worsen people’s sense of isolation.

“We find ourselves with a silent but common challenge of loneliness that people are struggling with all over the country and all over the world. And now on top of that, we’re being asked to pull back from life-sustaining interactions with other people,” says Murthy, now a Distinguished Policy Scholar in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Murthy knows loneliness. He experienced it as a child and saw its pernicious effects on patients when he was a physician, as he described in a recent Hopkins Bloomberg Public Health magazine article.  While on a 2014 listening tour with people across the U.S. after being named Surgeon General by President Barack Obama, Murthy was surprised how frequently loneliness came up in conversations.

More than 20% of Americans reported that they often or always feel lonely in a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation study.  Loneliness has been linked to a 26% increased risk for premature death, noted a 2015 Perspectives on Psychological Science article.  

Data like these and his own observations pushed Murthy to write the soon-to-be-released book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World (HarperCollins).

Faced with the necessity of social distancing as COVID-19 continues to spread, Americans can take some simple steps to ameliorate their loneliness and others’, Murthy says.

  • First, spend at least 15 minutes each day talking with or writing to a loved one. “15 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but when done consistently that small amount of time can make a big difference in how connected we feel,” Murthy says.
  • Second, dial down distractions and give undivided attention to people. Refreshing your social media feed or scrolling through emails is obvious to the person you’re speaking with. “The cost to our relationships is significant. It impacts the quality of the interaction, and ultimately the quality of the relationship,” he says.
  • Third, find ways to serve others. “We can call a neighbor …and check on them to make sure they’re doing okay. We can drop food off to somebody,” Murthy says. “We can write to people to let them know … that we know, that they’re going through a tough time and that we’re thinking of them. These are small but powerful ways in which we can seek to serve others.”

Actions like these can be especially valuable for the more than 35 million Americans who live alone.  Family, friends, and coworkers should make a special effort to stay connected with them. Another group who need help in the COVID-19 era: The quarantined (people believed to have been exposed to someone infected) and isolated (people who have been infected and need to be prevented from infecting others).

Such efforts combat the chronic loneliness that can pull one inward and insidiously chip away at one’s sense of self. “You start to believe that the reason that you’re lonely is because you’re not likable or because you’re not lovable,” Murthy says. Serving others shifts the focus outward, he says, and reminds people of their own value and ability to contribute to the world.

Even if you’re staying at home, Murthy says you can still call a neighbor to check in with them, take food to someone who isn’t able to go out, or write a note to a friend. “These are small but powerful ways in which we can seek to serve others,” he says.

Another way to fight loneliness: Allow people to help you. Some people have a hard time accepting help, but it can be affirming for both, Murthy says. “There is something very powerful about allowing others to help you. It requires you to be vulnerable in a moment, but the truth is that all of us are vulnerable, especially right now,” he explains. “Both helping others and now allowing yourself to be helped … ultimately strengthen your connection with others.”

 

John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Brian W. Simpson

 

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For almost 13 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

Advice For Happiness After Age 65

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Many years ago, age 65 was considered elderly and that life was over.  How things have changed!  Age 65 is now considered the prime of life with possibly many years ahead to enjoy!

For the most part, our culture is youth-driven, so we assume that the young and beautiful also happen to be the happiest. Young people who have time on their side may appear happy, but the notion that they are happier isn’t necessarily true. Happiness actually may increase with age.

There are plenty of small things that you can do every day. The following points of advice can help you today and to look forward to even more happiness in the years to come!

 

01 – It’s time to use the money you saved up . Use it and enjoy it . Don’t just keep it for those who may have no notion of the sacrifices you made to get it . Remember there is nothing more dangerous than a son or daughter-in-law with big ideas for your hard-earned capital . Warning : This is also a bad time for investments , even if it seems wonderful or fool-proof . They only bring problems and worries . This is a time for you to enjoy some peace and quiet .

 

02 – Stop worrying about the financial situation of your children and grandchildren , and don’t feel bad spending your money on yourself . You’ve taken care of them for many years , and you’ve taught them what you could . You gave them an education , food , shelter and support . The responsibility is now theirs to earn their own money .

 

03 – Keep a healthy life , without great physical effort . Do moderate exercise ( like walking every day ) , eat well and get your sleep . It’s easy to become sick , and it gets harder to remain healthy . That is why you need to keep yourself in good shape and be aware of your medical and physical needs . Keep in touch with your doctor , do tests even when you’re feeling well . Stay informed .

 

04 – Always buy the best , most beautiful items for your significant other . The key goal is to enjoy your money with your partner . One day one of you will miss the other , and the money will not provide any comfort then , enjoy it together .

 

05 – Don’t stress over the little things . You’ve already overcome so much in your life . You have good memories and bad ones , but the important thing is the present . Don’t let the past drag you down and don’t let the future frighten you . Feel good in the now . Small issues will soon be forgotten .

 

06 – Regardless of age , always keep love alive . Love your partner , love life , love your family , love your neighbor and friends.

 

07 – Be proud , both inside and out . Don’t stop going to your hair salon or barber , do your nails , go to the dermatologist and the dentist , keep your perfumes and creams well stocked . When you are well-maintained on the outside , it seeps in , making you feel proud and strong .

 

08 – Don’t lose sight of fashion trends for your age , but keep your own sense of style . There’s nothing worse than an older person trying to wear the current fashion among youngsters . You’ve developed your own sense of what looks good on you – keep it and be proud of it. It’s part of who you are.

 

09 – Always stay up-to-date . Read newspapers , watch the news . Go online and read what people are saying . Make sure you have an active email account and try to use some of those social networks . You’ll be surprised what old friends you’ll meet . Keeping in touch with what is going on and with the people you know is important at any age.

 

10 – Respect the younger generation and their opinions . They may not have the same ideals as you , but they are the future , and will take the world in their direction . Give advice , not criticism , and try to remind them that yesterday’s wisdom still applies today.

 

11 – Never use the phrase In my time . Your time is now . As long as you’re alive , you are part of this time . You may have been younger , but you are still you now , having fun and enjoying life.

 

12 – Some people embrace their golden years , while others become bitter and surly. Life is too short to waste your days on the latter . Spend your time with positive , cheerful people , it’ll rub off on you and your days will seem that much better. Spending your time with bitter people will make you older and harder to be around.

 

13 – Do not surrender to the temptation of living with your children or grandchildren ( if you have a financial choice , that is ) . Sure, being surrounded by family sounds great , but we all need our privacy and our OWN life.  They need theirs and you need yours. If you’ve lost your partner, then find a person to move in with you and help out. Even then, do so only if you feel you really need the help or do not want to live alone .

 

14 – Don’t abandon your hobbies . If you don’t have any, make new ones . You can travel , hike, cook, read, dance. You can adopt a cat or a dog, grow a garden, play cards, checkers, chess, golf . You can paint, volunteer or just collect certain items . Find something you like and spend some real time having fun with it .

 

15 – Even if you don’t feel like it , try to accept invitations. Baptisms, graduations, birthdays, weddings, conferences. Try to go . Get out of the house, meet people you haven’t seen in a while, experience something new (or something old ). But don’t get upset when you’re not invited. Some events are limited by resources, and not everyone can be hosted. The important thing is to leave the house from time to time. Go to museums, go walk through a field. Get out there.

 

16 – Be a conversationalist. Talk less and listen more. Some people go on and on about the past , not caring if their listeners are really interested. That’s a great way of reducing their desire to speak with you. Listen first and answer questions, but don’t go off into long stories unless asked to. Speak in courteous tones and try not to complain or criticize too much unless you really need to. Try to accept situations as they are. Everyone is going through the same things, and people have a low tolerance for hearing complaints. Always find some good things to say as well.

 

17 – Pain and discomfort go hand in hand with getting older. Try not to dwell on them but accept them as a part of the cycle of life we’re all going through. Try to minimize them in your mind. They are not who you are, they are something that life added to you. If they become your entire focus, you lose sight of the person you used to be .

 

18 – If you’ve been offended by someone – forgive them. If you’ve offended someone – apologize. Don’t drag around resentment with you. It only serves to make you sad and bitter. It doesn’t matter who was right. Someone once said : Holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Don’t take that poison. Forgive, forget and move on with your life.

 

19 – If you have a strong belief , savor it. But don’t waste your time trying to convince others. They will make their own choices no matter what you tell them, and it will only bring you frustration.

 

20 – Laugh A Lot . Laugh at everything. Remember, you are one of the lucky ones. You managed to have a life, a long one. Many never get to this age, never get to experience a full life. But you did. So what’s not to laugh about ? Find the humor in your situation .

 

21 – Take no notice of what others say about you and even less notice of what they might be thinking. They’ll do it anyway , and you should have pride in yourself and what you’ve achieved. Let them talk and don’t worry. They have no idea about your history, your memories and the life you’ve lived so far. There’s still much to be written, so get busy writing and don’t waste time thinking about what others might think. Now is the time to be at rest , at peace and as happy as you can be!

 

 

Article Contributor:  MAYBIENVH.WORDPRESS.COM

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For 12 years, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

To Age Well-You Need Friends

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Who is likely to be happier and healthier at 90? A woman who  moves across the country to live with her daughter and sees a grandchild every month, but rarely interacts with friends—or a woman who socializes with friends all the time, and sees family members mainly on holidays?

With any two real people, the answer depends on all kinds of factors. But most people assume that strong family ties are a bigger influence on well-being in old age than friendship. If you don’t have much family, you might worry that you’re likely to end up old and sick and alone. That assumption is wrong, according to an April, 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging.  Actually, as you age, friendship is thicker than water.

Over the years, much research shows, your friends influence your happiness and habits—whether you’ll smoke or drink, work out, stay thin or become obese. The new research found that the importance of friendship increases with age. This works both ways—quarrels with friends, it suggests, are tied to chronic health problems. The key is to keep friendships in good order. You may need to repair, or replace, friendships as you age.

The study, designed by Michigan State University psychology professor William J. Chopik, looked at two sets of data—one drawn from people around the world at different ages, and another from older Americans.

The first data set came from more than 270,000 volunteers ages 15 to 99, from nearly a hundred countries. The volunteers answered questions about how highly they valued different kinds of relationships and how happy they were. Instead of tracking the same people over time, it tracked “representative” groups of different ages at intervals over the years.

The result: from about age 65 on, valuing friendship highly turned out to make a bigger difference than it did when you were younger.  Strong family ties were linked to happiness, but their importance stayed about the same over the life span.

In a separate analysis, researchers examined data from close to 7,500 American volunteers in their sixties and seventies. This time, the data followed the same people over time.

Getting support—be it from spouses, children and friends—predicted greater well-being over an eight-year period, although more extended family didn’t seem to make much difference.

These questionnaires asked about “strain” within relationships, among other questions. It turned out that people who experienced strain within friendships were more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and psychiatric problems. This was true even if they also had support from immediate family.  Strain with family, surprisingly, wasn’t tied to more illness.

To add this all up, valuing your immediate family is good for your health and happiness at any age. But the older you become, the more important it is to have strong friendships. You’re happier and healthier when they’re happy–and you’re more likely to be sick when you don’t value friendship or your friendships are in trouble.

Other research has found what might seem to be a contradictory observation—we tend to socialize with fewer people as we age. But, as Chopik points out, we also invest more in a choice few. Those choice few help to keep us healthier, not just happier.  “Friendship quality,” he writes, “often predicts health more so than the quality of other relationships.”

Some of us take friendship for granted—friends are supposed to be “easy,” while we work at family relations. But over the years, friendships run into trouble as well.  You can decide to work through those trouble spots—ideally, getting closer—and move away from friendships that drag down your health. Don’t meet the old drinking buddies at the bar if you overdrink; see your girlfriend who eats a box of cookies at midnight for a morning walk instead.

As you get older, people move away, divorce and die. You no longer may see work buddies if you retire. You may find yourself needing to make new friends. Community organizations, religious groups and volunteer work may make all the difference

Invest in friendships that inspire you to stay healthy and you have a good chance at being healthy—in fact, this is probably the best bet you can make, the older you get.

 

 

Article Contributor: Psychology Today

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over a decade, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Healthy Aging – 9 Scientific Secrets

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The second half of your life can bring some of your most rewarding decades. You may be more confident than your younger self. You gain wisdom and patience. Sure, your hair sprouts more grays and your face sports more lines. But you can grow older with your body and mind as healthy as they can possibly be.

Here are science-backed secrets to do just that.

 

Eat Whole Foods

It’s more a way of eating than a formal diet. You load up on veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy. You eat less fatty meats, butter, sugar, salt, and packaged foods. Many studies have found that this diet can help you live longer and protects against heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe one way it works is by physically changing parts of your chromosomes linked to age-related diseases.

 

Walk

Aim for 30 minutes every day. If that’s too much, break it up into shorter strolls. Regular exercise — especially if you do it briskly enough to feel a little breathless — delivers huge health benefits. It help keep brain cells healthy by delivering more blood and oxygen. In fact, research suggests aerobic exercise may delay or improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

It also helps:

  • Control your weight
  • Boost your mood
  • Keep bones and muscles strong
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Makes you less likely to get heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol

 

Stay Connected

Loneliness is harmful to your health. If you feel lonely — whether you live alone or with someone, have lots of friends or none — you are more likely to get dementia or depression. Seniors who report feeling left out and isolated have more trouble with everyday tasks like bathing and climbing stairs. They also die earlier than less-lonely folks do. Researchers found that lonely people have higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation, or swelling, linked to arthritis and diabetes. Another study found more antibodies to certain herpes viruses in lonely people, a sign of stress in their immune system. Just connect.

 

Add Fiber

It’s an easy way to eat your way to better health with every meal and snack. Swap out your white bread for whole grain. Add kidney beans to your soup or apple slices to your salad. Fiber fills you up and for longer. It cuts your cholesterol levels and lowers your chance of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer.

It also helps you avoid constipation, which is more common in older adults. After age 50, men should aim for 30 grams of fiber a day and women should get 21 grams a day.

 

Stop Smoking

Tobacco kills. It harms almost every organ in your body. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine cause heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, and many other health problems. It’s never too late to quit. Your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette. Your chance of a heart attack goes down right away. In a year, your odds of heart disease drop by half. You’ll also live longer. Ask your doctor for help.

 

Try Tai Chi

This gentle Chinese exercise combines slow movements and deep breathing. It’s like meditating while you move.

Tai chi may help older people avoid falls, a top cause of injury among seniors. It also can:

  • Ease stress
  • Improve balance
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Increase flexibility
  • Lessen arthritis pain

 

Select Supplements

It’s often better to get your nutrients from food, not a pill. And you usually don’t need special supplements aimed at seniors.

After age 50, your body does need more of some vitamins and minerals from foods or supplements than before. They include:

  • Calcium (to keep bones strong)
  • Vitamin D (Most people get it from sunlight, but some seniors may not get out enough.)
  • Vitamin B12 (Older people have trouble absorbing it from foods, so you may need fortified cereals or a supplement.)
  • Vitamin B6 (It keeps your red blood cells strong to carry oxygen throughout your body.)

Tell your doctor about any supplements you take so you can avoid bad interactions with any medications or treatments.

 

Stay Optimistic

Life tests us in many ways. Loved ones die, layoffs happen, and health problems can mount. But positive thinking can be a powerful ally. When you choose to be optimistic and grateful, your mind and body respond in kind. People with a rosier outlook live longer and have fewer heart attacks and depression than more negative people. Positive emotions may even lower virus counts in people with HIV. You can learn to be optimistic. It just takes time and practice. Things you can do include:

  • Smile, even fake smile. It can help lower stress.
  • Reframe. Spin your thoughts to the good things instead of dwelling on the bad.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Do good things for others.
  • Surround yourself with people who boost your spirits.
  • Accept things you can’t change.

 

Stick to Sleep

Insomnia is common in older adults. It’s when you have a harder time falling and staying asleep. It helps to wake and sleep on schedule every day. That can help keep your body clock in sync so you get the sleep you need.

Also try and:

  • Keep your bedroom dark. Turn off your TV, cell phone, and laptop.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol in the evening.
  • Don’t nap longer than 20 minutes during the day.
  • Ask your doctor if any of your meds might be keeping you awake.

 

A long time Harvard study found that some of these other following factors turned out to be predictive of whether you’d move successfully through middle age and into your 80s:

  • Avoiding cigarettes
  • Good adjustment or coping skills
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Pursuing education (stimulates the mind)
  • Avoid alcohol over indulgence
  • Keep up with yearly checkups

 

The main goal is to live longer well, staying healthy enough to continue doing the things you love. While having good genes certainly helps, a growing body of research suggests that how well you age depends largely on you and what you do. Fortunately, research also finds that it’s never too late to make changes that can help you live a longer and healthier life.

 

Article Contributor:  WEB MD

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over a decade, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

Americans And Loneliness

downloadLoneliness isn’t just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.

Now a nationwide study by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.  The holidays can make this feeling of loneliness even more prominent.

Using one of the best-known tools for measuring loneliness — the UCLA Loneliness Scale — Cigna surveyed 20,000 adults online across the country. The University of California, Los Angeles tool uses a series of statements and a formula to calculate a loneliness score based on responses. Scores on the UCLA scale range from 20 to 80. People scoring 43 and above were considered lonely in the Cigna survey, with a higher score suggesting a greater level of loneliness and social isolation.

More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.”

The survey found that the average loneliness score in America is 44, which suggests that “most Americans are considered lonely,” according to the report released Tuesday by the health insurer.

“Half of Americans view themselves as lonely,” said  David Cordani president and CEO of Cigna Corp. “I can’t help but be surprised [by that].” (Cigna is an NPR sponsor and a major provider of health insurance for NPR employees.)

But the results are consistent with other previous research, says Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University, who studies loneliness and its health effects. She wasn’t involved in the Cigna survey. While it’s difficult to compare the loneliness scores in different studies, she says, other nationally representative estimates have found between 20 percent and 43 percent of Americans report feeling lonely or socially isolated.

Loneliness has health consequences. “There’s a blurred line between mental and physical health,” says Cordani. “Oftentimes, medical symptoms present themselves and they’re correlated with mental, lifestyle, behavioral issues like loneliness.”

Several studies in recent years, including ones by Holt-Lunstad, have documented the public health effect of loneliness. It has been linked with a higher risk of  coronary heart disease and stroke.  It has been shown to influence our genes and our immune systems and even recovery from breast cancer.

And there is growing evidence that loneliness can kill. “We have robust evidence that it increases risk for premature mortality,” says Holt-Lunstad. Studies have found that it is a predictor of premature death, not just for the elderly, but even more so for younger people.

The study also found that people who spend less time looking at screens and more time having face-to-face social interactions are less likely to be depressive or suicidal.

However, the Cigna survey didn’t find a correlation between social media use and feelings of loneliness. This would on the surface contradict the new findings on screen time, but Holt-Lunstad says that previous research shows that how people use social media determine its influence on one’s sense of isolation.

“If you’re passively using it, if you’re just scrolling feeds, that’s associated with more negative effects,” she says. “But if you’re using it to reach out and connect to people to facilitate other kinds of [in-person] interactions, it’s associated with more positive effects.”

That last finding is also corroborated by the Cigna survey across all age groups. Respondents who said they have more in-person social interactions on a daily basis reported being less lonely.

The survey also found that working too little or too much is also associated with the experience of loneliness, suggesting that our workplaces are an important source of our social relationships and also that work-life balance is important for avoiding loneliness.

Cigna wants to work with employers to “help address loneliness in the workplace,” says Nemecek.

Social connection or the lack of it is now considered a social determinant of health. In a 2014 report, the Institute of Medicine (now the Health and Medicine division of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine) suggested that health providers should collect information about patients’ “social connections and social isolation” along with information on education, employment, lifestyle (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) and psychological health.

“But this hasn’t happened,” says Holt-Lunstad. “I would hope that with a large insurer like Cigna [releasing a report on loneliness], that it would start to be more on the radar of major health organizations but also actual health care providers.”

 

Article Contributor:  Health News from NPR

 

Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of  Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina.  For over a decade, Silver Connections has provided unique local events, travel opportunities, personal service, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.

 

SILVER CONNECTIONS WEBSITE:

www.silverconnections.org

 

 

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