By Kelly Parsons
University of Kentucky
What goes up and never comes down? Your age.
September is Healthy Aging Month and a time to celebrate the positive aspects of growing older.
Keeping in touch with your neighbors, community, and the world lowers the risk of developing dementia. Staying social and engaged improves brain health.
There are many ways you can engage in social activities a local Senior Center, the Silver Sneakers program and volunteer opportunities with organizations in and around your community. Aging can be filled with self-growth and exploration. Healthy Aging Month is a reminder that engaging in social and productive activities has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve mood, and help you live longer.
We experience significant changes as we age, retirement, moving to a new area, and changes in health status or mobility can impact our ability to stay connected. These events can result in a loss of connection which can cause you to become isolated or feel lonely or both.
Here are five ways to celebrate Healthy Aging Month and promote healthy aging in your life:
1. Get Active — The body is the vessel of the soul. That is why taking care of it is one of the most important elements of Healthy Aging. When it comes to exercising, keeping a routine is key. Finding a workout partner, joining a dance class, or getting outside and enjoying some fresh air are all great ways to stay active and have fun while doing it. Sooner than you know it you’ll be looking forward to your next workout.
2. Keep Your Mind Sharp — Keeping your mind active will allow you to stay as mentally sharp as you’ve ever been. Learning new recipes, playing word or number games, learning to play a musical instrument even joining a book club are fun ways to exercise your mind.
3. Keep exploring — Keep your life exciting by visiting new places, volunteering, and even traveling. Local libraries, senior centers, colleges and universities have programs for all interests. The University of Kentucky’s Office of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) offers educational and enrichment courses, forums, shared interest groups, trips, events, and more for adults 50 years and older.
4. Stay on Top of your health status — Over time, it can be easy to lose track of routine Doctors’ visits, but as we age it is more important than ever to stay on top of our health. Make this September the month to re-up on annual shots and checkups. Remember, Medicare will pay for your annual wellness visit. Keeping up with you health conditions can help prevent serious health issues 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 to keep you motivated.
Whether you’re in your 40s or in your 80s, it’s never too soon — or too late — to begin your journey of healthy aging. Celebrate Healthy Aging Month by making the choice to take care of yourself, for yourself.
Kelly Parsons is a social worker at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.