At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.
We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!
What age group of adults would you think is the happiest? If most people were to guess, they’d likely assume people in their 20s and 30s are the most content. Why wouldn’t they be, right? They are young and likely healthy, and they have their whole lives ahead of them, full of potential and exciting events.
If you think young adults have it all, you may be surprised to learn the results of a study conducted out of the University of California-San Diego; the research results were published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Happiness comes with maturity…
The study’s author, Dr. Dilip Jeste, is a geriatric psychiatrist and the director of the university’s Center on Healthy Aging. He and his team of researchers used a random sampling of 1,546 adults in the San Diego area, age 21 to 99.
The subjects in the study underwent a phone interview with a member of the research team and then completed a lengthy survey assessing their physical, cognitive, and mental health. They were asked about their overall happiness and satisfaction with their life. In addition, they were questioned on their stress levels and any depression or anxiety they were experiencing.
It is often assumed that happiness would form a sort of U-shaped curve over the course of life—high in early adulthood, dropping in middle age, and then ticking back up in late life. But this isn’t what the study found.
The researchers discovered that despite potential health issues and physical decline that are often inherent to the aging process, the older research subjects were actually happier overall than the younger adults. Surprisingly, it was those in their 20s and 30s who were found to have the lowest levels of happiness, life satisfaction, and wellbeing, in addition to the highest levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.
Although the study did not follow the research subjects over time to determine if their responses were just a reflection of that moment in time or a more long-term trend with their mental and physical state, it does suggest that overall, people appear to have improved mental health and overall happiness as they mature and age.
Think about it: In your 20s and 30s, you’ve been released into the “real world,” which can be a difficult transition that includes educational and career pressures, romantic turbulence, trying to keep up with the Joneses, and other “adult stuff” like bills and taxes. It becomes clear why it can indeed be a stressful, anxiety-filled time.
Contrast that to older people. With the wisdom gained over the years, they appear to have more emotional stability, self-awareness, and contentment with their stage in life. They have learned to let more things roll off their backs, which results in greater happiness.
…But not for all seniors
While this study from the University of California-San Diego is certainly good news when it comes to the overall emotional state of our nation’s older citizens, it is not suggested that we should assumethat all seniors are in their happiest phase of life.
There is a “loneliness epidemic” among the elderly, particularly those who live alone, with roughly 40 percent of those seniors saying they often feel isolated—a risk factor that can have a more detrimental impact on health than things like smoking or obesity.
CCRCs can help facilitate happiness
Living alone, in and of itself, does not necessarily translate into loneliness, although it is a contributing factor for many. Likewise, surrounding one’s self with lots of people doesn’t always translate into avoidance of loneliness. Ultimately, it is about quality of relationships and other factors. Yet, this opportunity to socialize more frequently, develop new friendships, and stay active are among the many benefits of living in a retirement community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, also called a life plan community).
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The above article was written by Brad Breeding ofmyLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.
If this title caught your eye, you may very well be on the horns of dilemma. You might be an adult son or daughter, a spouse, or a good friend from church or the neighborhood, and you’re dealing with a very tricky problem – your loved one probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. There have been a few too many “Mr. McGoo” moments, perhaps a damaged garage door or fender with no explanation? Or worse? An accident where someone has been injured? The latter is actually easier to deal with than the former, I’ve found.
Summertime means graduation season and there is a recent and growing trend among college graduates that is garnering a lot of attention. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, by 2020, 43 percent of college students are expected to be age 25 and older. And among these older grads are more and more seniors.
You may have seen some news stories about older people who recently got their diplomas. ABC News highlighted Bob Barger, a WWII Navy pilot, who received his associate degree in technical studies from the University of Toledo in Ohio. After returning home from the war, he had dropped out of college to focus on his job and earn a living for his wife and two children.
CBS News shared the moving story of 89-year-old Ella Washington, who, after raising 12 children and putting in a lifetime of hard work, completed her associate degree in interdisciplinary studies from Liberty University in Virginia. She’s already begun work on her bachelor’s degree, majoring in history.
Bob and Ella are just two of the many older people who are taking advantage of the free time that retirement offers to pursue their education and learn more about subjects they are passionate about. And studies show that the benefits of seniors’ pursuit of lifelong learning are abundant.
Learning something new, such as a new skill or hobby, can help boost your memory. Neuroscientists at the University of Texas at Dallas conducted a study that found that seniors who took on a new, mentally challenging hobby saw a lasting increase in their memory skills. These researchers believe that taking on a new, challenging activity—like learning to quilt, playing an instrument, or operating a computer, for example—strengthens numerous networks within the brain.
A research study conducted by neurologists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that engaging in a lifelong pursuit of mentally challenging activities may actually help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that seniors who frequently read, played mentally challenging games like chess, or engaged in other intellectually stimulating activities are 2.5 times less likely to have Alzheimer’s, which impacts approximately 4 million Americans.
And another study out of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School had similar findings. Using participant interviews and brain scans, those researchers found that seniors who reported higher levels of intellectual stimulation throughout their lifetimes had a marked delay in the onset of memory problems or other Alzheimer’s-type symptoms, even though these study participants didn’t actually have any lower incidence of protein plaques on their brains. The ability to delay or even prevent the potentially debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s offers substantial advantages when it comes to seniors’ quality of life.
Pursuing lifelong learning activities has benefits that go beyond boosting your brain power. Cognitive neuropsychologists at the University of Sussex in England did a study that found that reading for even just six minutes lowered study participants’ stress levels, slowed their heart rates and eased tension in their muscles. And lower stress has wide ranging benefits for seniors’ cardiovascular health, decreasing blood pressure and reducing the risk of a stroke or heart attack, boosting immunity, and lowering levels of depression.
But researchers at Harvard and Princeton had even more impressive findings in their research on the connection between lifelong learning and health. The study authors found that one more year of education increased life expectancy by 0.18 years. They discovered that the more educated a person, the lower their rates of anxiety and depression as well as the most common acute and chronic diseases (heart disease, stroke, hypertension, high cholesterol, emphysema, diabetes, asthma, ulcer), and they were far less likely to report that they were in overall poor health.
Now, there is a “chicken or egg” debate on whether the increased level of education caused these positive health results, or if the people who were healthier (perhaps based on lifestyle factors like drinking, smoking, eating habits, etc., or the impact of their economic standing) were simply more likely to pursue educational opportunities, but the findings are still significant.
Put on your thinking cap
There are numerous lifelong learning opportunities available to seniors. If you live in a town with a university or community college, call them or visit their website to find out what types of continuing education classes are offered; some colleges will even allow older adults to “audit” a college class—sit-in on classes for no credit, but also for little to no cost. If you don’t live near a school, there are also numerous online learning programs offered by colleges across the country.
AARP compiled a helpful list of the best colleges for older or returning students, which includes online learning opportunities.
If you’re looking to take up a new intellectually stimulating hobby like quilting or painting, contact your local arts and crafts store to see if they offer classes. To learn how to play an instrument, contact a nearby high school to see if the band director can offer recommendations on teachers, or you can even do an internet search to find teachers in your area. Your local library is another great resource, providing not only a treasure trove of mentally stimulating books, but also offering programs and presentations for eager learners.
Lifelong learning at CCRCs
One of the many advantages of living in a senior living community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community), is the array of activities and events offered to residents. Knowing the many benefits to their residents’ mental and physical health, CCRCs in particular put an emphasis on lifelong learning opportunities. From guest speakers to art classes to affinity groups like chess, bridge, and book clubs, CCRCs provide their residents with numerous ways to keep their minds active, all in a close-to-home location.
Some CCRCs have even made lifelong learning a major component of their resident programming, forming cooperative ventures with local universities and professors. Courses include everything from literature, history, and creative writing, to art and music appreciation, philosophy, and current events. Classes may take place at the retirement community or at the university, or both.
Food for thought
Whether you are interested in getting educated on a new subject or acquiring a new skill, there are near-countless ways that lifelong learning benefits seniors. So why not challenge yourself and try something new? It’s a lifestyle choice that’s good for your mind, which in turn is good for your health!
The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.
What is your attitude about the aging process? Do you view it as a positive rite of passage or a negative phenomenon that must simply be endured? Learn more about changing your mindset about growing older by clicking the link above.
There has been a media blitzkrieg (and resulting changes in state and federal regulations regarding nursing home care) about the benefits of staying at home “as long as possible” as we age. Who wouldn’t, after all, want to stay at home? It’s well, home. And home can be familiar and welcoming, with daily routines, good memories, and familiar surroundings.
But what if staying at home isn’t the best option? Click above to learn more about the case against staying at home as you age and the many benefits of continuing care retirement communities.
With summer on its way, there’s a sense of renewal and opportunity; it’s a great time to make a fresh start!
Perhaps, after discussions with loved ones over the spring, you’ve begun considering a move to a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or life plan community) this year. There’s no doubt that it’s a big decision to make, but many people feel a great sense of relief once the choice is made. When you live in a CCRC, all of your needs along the continuum of care will be provided in one location, and for most CCRC residents, there is comfort and security in knowing that.
Top 5 tips for prepping your home
Now that your senior living decision has been made, the tough part is over. There’s just the “small” matter of selling your house. While this can feel like a daunting task on the surface, it doesn’t have to be. Spring is a great time to sell since many people want to be in their new home in time for the new school year in the fall. So right now—in January and February—is a good time to start doing a few things to prepare your house. Here are five ways that you can boost your home’s value and make it more attractive to would-be buyers.
- Clean-out time
One of the first tasks to tackle when you decide to sell is to declutter your home. This is a bigger task for some people than others, but it’s also a good opportunity to enlist the help of your friends and family. As I’ve written about before, host a “declutter party,” complete with music, snacks, and a reward at the end of the day. Separate things into keep, sell, giveaway, and trash categories. It can be helpful to have your adult children assist with this task so that you aren’t saving things that you think they may want when they actually don’t.
If you feel overwhelmed by this clean-up project, there are “declutter specialists” who you can hire—professional organizers who will help you tackle this sometimes-daunting project. Your realtor will be able to refer you to an experienced provider.
- Make it shine!
Once you have gotten rid of the excess clutter in your home, it’s time for a top-to-bottom cleaning. Wipe down all surfaces including counters, sinks and tubs, baseboards, and floors. If you have a smoker or pets in the home, or if you often fry foods or use pungent spices, you also will want to address odor issues. Have the carpets professionally shampooed to help remove lingering smells. A fresh coat of paint on the walls may even be needed in order to eliminate strong odors.
- Curb appeal
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and this is true for your home too. Take a look at your landscaping: First ensure that your grass is well-kept, and then do a little extra sprucing up with some colorful flowers and a fresh layer of mulch in the beds.
Also look at your home’s front entrance. As prospective buyers wait for their real estate agent to unlock the door, they will be noticing your front steps, porch, and doorway. Be sure there is no peeling paint on the door or molding, cobwebs have been swept from the corners, the stoop is free of leaves or debris, and consider adding an attractive planter full of vibrant flowers to the porch or a seasonal wreath on the door.
- Make repairs
It’s time to finally take on that honey-do list! Repair that sagging gutter; fix the broken ceiling fan in the den; nail down that squeaky step. Again, your realtor can offer advice on specific cosmetic repairs that should be made, but you also will want to be sure that all of your home’s appliances and major systems (heating/cooling, water heater, etc.) are in good working order. Once you have an offer and are under contract, problems with these things will turn up on an inspection report, and you don’t want such issues to scare a buyer away, so you might as well repair known issues now.
- Neutralize your color palette
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and nowhere is this truer than in people’s taste in home décor! You may love your cherry red kitchen and the floral wallpaper in your bedroom, but a prospective buyer could find them to be a huge turn-off…even a deal-breaker. That’s why you may want to tone down your house’s color palette, freshening up walls with a neutral paint tone like a cream, light gray, or beige. These colors are unobjectionable to almost everyone, and a fresh coat of paint can instantly brighten up a room, making it feel bigger.
Expert real estate advice for seniors
Again, a realtor can help you look at your home objectively to determine which of the tasks above you need to do before listing your home. If you don’t already have a trusted realtor that you want to work with, you may want to consider finding a “seniors real estate specialist” (SRES). These are realtors who have undergone additional training to learn how to better address the unique needs of older clients who are buying, selling, or refinancing a home.
One of the big benefits of SRES realtors is access to their extensive network of related service professionals such as real estate attorneys, financial planners, and accountants who also have expertise in senior-specific legal and financial issues. Learn more about the advantages of utilizing a SRES-certified real estate professional by visiting their website. As with any provider, you will still want to be sure you vet a SRES realtor and ask for references.
The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.
What does it mean to be healthy as we get older? For most of us, it’s simply the opposite of illness. And staying healthy equates to managing diseases and chronic conditions.
But there is a movement to expand the definition of health and wellness in order to accommodate the idea that being healthy is the process of getting the most out of what life has to offer — regardless of physical age.
Click above to learn more about active aging.
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