You’re only as old as you feel. The Irish-born artist Francis Bacon summed up the old saying’s meaning by adding this: “I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.” The big question is really this- can we hold back the sands of time by staying young at heart? Even if that’s not technically possible, we’re likely to get more from life by having positive mindsets and being curious and engaged in the world around us. Read on to find out why it’s important to combat negativity and for some practical steps to stay healthier as you age and create a positive mindset.
How Society Can Affect the Way We Perceive Ourselves and How it Influences our Mindsets
Take research conducted by Trinity College, Dublin. It found that negative attitudes to ageing have an impact on our cognitive health and physical wellbeing in later years.
The study prompts questions about how society, in general, perceives older people. It also flags up how a negative perception of the elderly in general affects the very mindset of people themselves as they hit their later years.
In short, negative attitudes in society can create an older generation that feels negative about itself. The study concluded that the way we think, talk and write about ageing may have direct effects on health.
A Collective Responsibility to Stay Positive
Trinity College examined the consequences of carrying negative attitudes towards ageing throughout life. The conclusion was that this can have a detrimental, measurable effect on our mental, physical and cognitive wellbeing.
It’s a view shared more broadly by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Interestingly, one of its findings was that high-income countries were where ageism appeared to be at its highest levels.
One could well argue that there’s an irony here. That’s because, as the WHO itself points out, society would benefit from an ageing population if everyone were to stay healthier for longer.
There’s a collective need and responsibility for all corners of society to reflect on how to reduce levels of ageism. This applies to:
- The media
- Ourselves, our families and our friends
Those behind the Trinity College study are calling on researchers and policymakers to work together. They want them to develop and implement societal-wide interventions. These would target attitudes and perhaps, in the end, find new ways of maintaining health in later life including those in receipt of homecare.
Practical Steps You Can Take to Stay Positive
If we surround ourselves with negative energy then it makes the fight to stay positive even harder and can lead to unhealthy mindsets. Begin with a clearout of any influences in your life that bring you down.
These could be things like:
- Reducing the number of tragic news stories you digest
- Surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good
- Limiting the time you spend in front of a computer screen
- Not engaging too heavily in social media
A key driver of staying healthy in mind and body is to take as much exercise as possible. We all have different physical abilities. Some of us have issues that make exercise challenging. We should do as much as we can.
Why Taking Regular Exercise is Important
Taking regular exercise pumps up our endorphins, sometimes referred to as hormones. These neurotransmitters act to increase feelings of pleasure and well-being. They can also help to reduce pain and discomfort.
When possible, you should set aside time every day to exercise. Comfort Keepers can help here. If you are receiving homecare, talk to your carer for help and advice about how you might be able to achieve your fitness goals.
Many adults over 65 spend 10 hours or more a day sitting or lying down. There’s strong evidence that those who are active have a lower risk of illnesses. They’re less likely to suffer from heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, cancers, depression and dementia.
Taking regular exercise can also lower the risks of having a fall. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with your community, friends and neighbours.
Some Suggested Exercises
Get your body moving. That means doing anything from walking and gardening to some kind of sport. Experts say that older people should aim to take at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. You could do this in short bursts of 10 minutes at a time.
Clearly, not all of us will be physically able to do these activities. However, here are some examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activities:
- Walking Briskly
- Aqua aerobics
- Riding a bicycle on level ground
- Pushing the lawnmower
At the same time, reduce the length of time you spend sitting down during the day. Break the habit of long periods of time in front of the TV, computer use, driving, or sitting to read or listen to music.
There’s plenty of research that proves it’s never too late to reap the health benefits from a more active lifestyle and changing our mindsets.
There’s No Time Like the Present to Change our Mindsets
Mindfulness is a technique that steers us away from concentrating on things we can do nothing about. It helps us to relax, can draw us closer to nature and make us feel more positive about the world we live in.
The great thing is that you can practise mindfulness anywhere and at any time. It can help us to sleep better and get back to sleep if we wake up during the night. As with physical exercise, try and set aside sometime each day for some mindfulness.
Here are some small examples of how it works.
Sit quietly and focus your thoughts on what you can hear, feel and touch. These could be things like the sound of a radiator, traffic or children playing. They might include the feeling of the fabric of a chair on your hand or how your clothes touch your skin.
Don’t worry if at first, your mind wanders off. You can find out more here about Mindfulness and how to practise it. It can be especially useful if you are receiving homecare.
Life Is for Living Whatever Your Age
There’s no question that staying positive and as fit as possible in both body and mindsets is going to help us live happier, more fulfilled lives. Comfort Keepers are on hand to give you or a loved one any extra help needed to reach their full potential.
Get in touch with us now and find out more about the homecare services Comfort Keepers can offer.