As you and your parents grow older, the media will send you messages that aging is somehow bad. From advertisements for plastic surgeries to coloring your hair, the message is you should never look old. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The concept of aging gracefully acknowledges and embraces your age, never hiding it. At the same time, aging gracefully does not mean that you sit and simply waste away either. When you age gracefully, there are specific mental, emotional, and physical decisions you make.
Yes, you are getting older. Yes, your parents are getting older. However, this does not mean you sit on your couch, throw up your arms, and wait to die. Maintaining at least a semi-active lifestyle is paramount to aging gracefully. This does not mean that you have to hit the gym and toss around absurdly heavy weights. While resistance training is a great way to exercise, you have to acknowledge the physical changes that come. Using resistance bands or lighter weights is one choice. Another is changing to lower impact forms of exercise. Yoga is an exceptional low impact exercise that will keep you flexible. It is also great for your skin, helping you glow without resorting to makeup or plastic surgery.
No matter your age, change is hard. Accepting that your needs and abilities change as you grow older is one of the key emotional components to aging gracefully. However, keep in mind that accepting change does not mean that you succumb to it. It means that you do not let the fear of change become the driving reason behind your decisions. In the West, there is an ingrained cultural fear of death. Aging gracefully acknowledges that the clock will keep ticking no matter what you do, so you make the decisions that will keep you physically and mentally healthy. By accepting that death is a part of the natural cycle of life, you are aging gracefully emotionally.
Mentally Accepting Time
Keep your mind sharp with mental exercises. Growing older does not mean you have to become addlepated. Crossword puzzles are a great way to keep you active mentally. Consider volunteering at a local library or shelter. Keeping yourself busy with a variety of activities as you grow older will keep you sharp. A mental activity that you may not consider is video gaming. There are games designed specifically to maintain mental acuity in a wide range of areas, from memory to pattern recognition. Consider taking classes at a local community center or college. Look to see if your local college needs someone to audit courses. Alternately, you can watch free lectures from many colleges online, including Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Caltech.
Just because you and your parents are aging does not mean that you have to sit idly by and let it happen. It also means that you do not need to chase chemical and surgical options to try to fend off time. Rather, you should make the decision to age gracefully. Accept that you are growing older, but make the decisions to embrace it mentally, physically, and emotionally. With this acceptance, you can maintain a high quality of life for you and your parents.