After gaining years of experience working and caring for the elderly, I can imagine many ways to describe what “aging” means. There are multiple factors that determine if one is considered old. In other words, a high number of years someone has been on this Earth does not define them as being old. In today’s world of medical technology, health products and smarter lifestyles, it may be hard to identify our kūpuna.
Is 65 really old? Is it still considered senior?
As approximately 10,000 baby boomers (those born between 1944 and 1964) are turning 65 every day, we will experience an increased influx of aging people over the next couple of decades. However, considering the way our seniors are aging, it may be more of a staggered increase rather than all at once.
Twenty years ago, a 65-year-old may have looked and acted differently than the 65-year-old of today. With advances in healthcare and the pursuit of healthy lifestyles, is it possible that today’s 65-year-old looks and feels younger … maybe more like a 45-year-old?
Here are some interesting perspectives from the population in question regarding getting older based on a study that was done by Human Development Specialist Nina Chen: “Getting older means more years to add to your life, less activity, less hair, more medicine, more wrinkles, arthritis and more forgetful. When people get older, they lose their dignity and independence. Being old means not being able to do anything.”
Positive outlooks documented were: “Being old means more experiences and having privileges, for instance, senior discounts, senior centers, affordable housing for seniors and senior support groups. Getting older means getting wiser. Older people are just like a walking library. They have true stories — not fiction.”
Lifestyle choices and changes can alter the way we age in general. Below are some changes that may improve how we age:
- Stop smoking to allow more oxygen into your cells
- Stop drinking alcohol to keep your tissues healthy
- Exercise consistently to maintain mobility
- Eat healthy foods to give your body the fuel it needs to regenerate cells
- Drink more water so toxins absorbed from the environment will be flushed out \
- Stay out of the sun to avoid skin damage Retirement leads to less stress; The age of retirement for full benefits is now 70.
- Make and keep friends to stay engaged and thriving in society
Aging looks different depending on your perspective. Although the average lifespan continues to lengthen, it has increased more in the past century than in all of humanity’s existence combined.
Individual self-worth and dignity are important factors as we age. For older individuals, this means living life to the fullest each day and doing what you want to do. Don’t regret what you haven’t experienced. Get out there and seize the day — “Carpe Diem!”
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AGING IN HAWAII EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM by Attention Plus Care — a program providing resources for seniors and their families, covering different aging topics each month. For class information and upcoming topics, call 808-440-9356.