[Note: The following tips are courtesy of the University of Texas Center on Aging https://nursing.uth.edu/coa/healthy.htm which I am motivated to reproduce here to encourage me to take Tip 8 to heart. Meanwhile, I am keeping my eye on Texas (not to mention Wyoming which is a different story).]
1. Don’t Retire: Get a Part-time Job or Volunteer
Treat your brain like any other muscle – exercise it. Working or volunteering in a complex environment can provide challenging problem-solving opportunities for older adults to flex their mental muscles.
2. Social Support Network
Isolation is a powerful risk factor for poor health so it’s extremely important for successful agers to develop a support network of friends, family and others before a crisis occurs. Support comes from many sources and from all age groups, successful agers learn how to ask their support network for help and accept help when needed.
3. Relationships are Essential
Humans are social beings, developing connections with others that are often maintained over a lifetime. Not only do successful agers maintain close relationships with family and friends, but they also develop new relationships by participating in their community. Reflecting on the past with friends and family members strengthens these relationships.
4. Reliance and Adaptability
Maintaining a flexible attitude helps successful agers bounce back from life’s misfortunes. This ability to make changes as we age helps us maintain a balance in life and enables us to transition as function declines.
5. Keep Playing
Successful agers cultivate their interests (particularly non work-related ones) before retirement. Engaging in fun activities enlarges your circle of friends, creating a support network and helps you keep a healthy, happy outlook toward life.
6. Healthy Habits
Eat healthy and exercise. Quit bad habits. Drink in moderation and stop smoking. If you’re struggling with health habits, find a role model and observe their habits.
7. Keep Learning
Retirement doesn’t mean retreating from the world. It’s a time to learn new skills and interests. Aging people with new interests have more positive experiences, and learning keeps you from being “locked in place.”
8. Healthy Attitudes
Positive attitudes are essential for successful aging. Negative attitudes contribute to physical and mental illnesses which reduce life span and quality of life.
9. Maintaining Autonomy
A sense of choice is essential to successful aging. Individuals who learn how to maintain their independence as their life changes will age successfully. Risk-taking should be allowed if it allows elderly people to live their life with “their boots on.”
Successful agers are able to tell stories about themselves and share them with their families. Reliving these stories helps them find purpose in their life.