Happiness Is Ageless
Learn why it doesn't hurt to stay optimistic about aging.

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Happiness Is Ageless

Are you worried about getting older? Does aging conjure up images for you of poor health and limited freedom? You may want to consider changing your outlook to a more optimistic one.

It doesn't hurt to be positive. In fact, some studies have suggested that people who have a positive attitude about life may have a greater chance of avoiding heart disease. And choosing to stay positive about aging in particular may be beneficial. Those with a rosy view of aging may be more likely to rebound from a severe disability, one study found.

Negative thoughts can get in the way of enjoying life. Optimism, on the other hand, may help us care for ourselves and face obstacles. It may give us the strength to cope with stress and anxiety.

Change can be difficult at any age. As we get older, many transitions start to take place. Loved ones pass away and health conditions may change. Kids and friends may move away. Retirement or job changes may occur. The key is to take these changes in stride and move forward with your life in a healthy way.

The upside of aging
Have you thought of the advantages of getting older? The constant attention to child rearing may be replaced by carefree visits with grandchildren or friends. If you are retired, you may be free to travel or enjoy working in the garden. You can appreciate what you have already accomplished and explore new activities. And you can relish that cup of coffee or tea late into the morning.

If you feel that you are not able to take pleasure in the things you used to, though, you may be showing signs of depression. Depression is a common but serious condition for older adults. It can interfere with your sleep, your appetite and your daily activities. Talk to your health care provider if you just can't shake off negative thoughts, or if you feel hopeless or find it hard just to get through the day.

Enjoying the years to come
In addition to keeping a positive attitude, follow these tips on how to be healthy into your "golden" years.

  • Accept the things you can't control. Focus on things you can control, like how you respond to challenges. It may help to view problems as an opportunity to learn or to better yourself. Try to keep stress to a minimum.
  • Stay active. Get out of the house and involved in your community. Being productive can help keep you feeling good.
  • Remain connected with family and friends.
  • Get moving. Regular exercise is important for everyone. It can help fight heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and depression. It can also help your balance and keep you strong enough to do your everyday activities.
  • Eat smart. Keep sweets and fats to a minimum. Choose from all the food groups. Eat whole grains for at least half of your daily grain intake, and eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Low fat dairy is important, and if you eat meat or skinless chicken, choose the leanest cuts. Eating seafood twice weekly is encouraged, and limiting your sodium intake to 1500 milligrams or less daily is encouraged for those who are 51 or older.
  • Don't smoke. If you do, see your doctor about quit-smoking methods.
  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. Men should have no more than two drinks per day and women should have no more than one drink per day.
  • Get vaccinated. Make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations and get an annual flu shot.
  • Don't forget screenings. Talk with your doctor about screenings that are right for you.
  • If you're living with a chronic illness, work with your doctor to take the best possible care of yourself.

If you start to feel sorry for yourself or feel resentment at the aging process, it might help to reach out to others for support. Surrounding yourself with positive people may help ward off depression and loneliness. It may help you deal with hardship and loss. It can bring humor and laughter into your life. A positive outlook can help you embrace your later years and be thankful for what you have.

Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.

By Emily Gurnon, Contributing Writer
Created on 05/29/2007
Updated on 10/02/2013
Sources:
  • Helpguide.org. Staying healthy over 50. How to feel young and live life to the fullest.
  • National Institute on Aging. Featured health topic: Exercise.
  • National Institute on Aging. Participating in activities you enjoy — more than just fun and games.
  • National Institute on Aging. Healthy eating after 50.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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