By Kelly Parson
University of Kentucky
What goes up and never goes down? Your age.
September is Healthy Aging Month and a time to celebrate the positive aspects of aging.
Staying in touch with your neighbours, your community and the world reduces the risk of developing dementia. Staying social and engaged improves brain health.
There are many ways to participate in social activities at a local senior center, the Silver Sneakers program, and volunteer opportunities with organizations in and around your community. Aging can be filled with personal growth and exploration. Healthy Aging Month is a reminder that participating in social and productive activities has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve mood and help you live longer.
We go through significant changes as we age, retire, move to a new area, and changes in our health or mobility can impact our ability to stay connected. These events can lead to a loss of connection which can cause you to isolate yourself or feel lonely or both.
Here are five ways to celebrate Healthy Aging Month and promote healthy aging in your life:
1. be active — The body is the vessel of the soul. That’s why caring for it is one of the most important parts of healthy aging. When it comes to exercise, it’s essential to keep a routine. Finding a workout partner, joining a dance class, or getting out and enjoying the fresh air are great ways to stay active and have fun while doing it. Sooner than you know, you’ll be looking forward to your next workout.
2. Keep your mind sharp — Keeping your mind active will keep you as mentally sharp as you’ve ever been. Learning new recipes, playing word or number games, learning to play a musical instrument, and even joining a book club are fun ways to exercise your mind.
3. Keep exploring — Make your life exciting by visiting new places, volunteering and even traveling. Local libraries, senior centers, colleges and universities have programs for every interest. The University of Kentucky Office of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) offers educational and enrichment classes, forums, shared interest groups, trips, events, and more for adults aged 50 and over.
4. Stay on top of your health — Over time, it can be easy to lose sight of routine doctor visits, but as we age, staying on top of our health is more important than ever. Make September the month to take stock of injections and annual checkups. Remember that Medicare will pay for your annual wellness visit. Tracking your health can help prevent serious health problems in the future.
5. stay motivated — Sometimes getting older can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Know that you are not alone. Finding a community can help you stay motivated.
Whether you’re in your 40s or 80s, it’s never too early — or too late — to start your journey to healthy aging. Celebrate Healthy Aging Month by choosing to take care of yourself, for you.
Kelly Parsons is a social worker at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky.