While hope is important to living and thriving, it is not a strategy. However, planning is. Perhaps not as sexy as hope in older age having a plan is a secret to living longer and liking it. What makes me the expert? I work with older adults every day in my encore career as a gerontologist. By creating a plan you make the decisions before a well-meaning loved one makes them for you. Take the following steps and discover the secret to living longer.
Three Steps To Living Longer
• Self-awareness – Physical changes come with age and it is a natural process. Ignoring changes does not make them go away. In fact, it can often exacerbate and create a larger problem. By developing self-awareness you can make choices to improve relationships, health, and attitude. Ultimately, this puts you in the decision-makers seat.
• Become a Changemaker – While you may have never marched or signed a petition to affect change that time is over. If you develop self-awareness you have the potential to make changes. However, this means being okay with being uncomfortable. When you think back to your teen years do you remember growing pains? Similarly, in older age, there are also growing pains. You will make choices for the first time leading to changes for the rest of your life.
• Take Action – Of course, self-awareness and change are great attributes without action they are useless. This step is critical in creating a successful plan. I divide this final step into three parts. 1) Select something new you are willing to try. 2) Identify potential barriers. 3) Brainstorm solutions to overcome obstacles.
Now, here’s how it might look in real life. While I chose diabetes you can use this process to tackle anything life throws at you.
You receive a diagnosis of diabetes. (Approximately 25% of adults over the age of 60 years have diabetes).
You choose to develop lifestyle changes to manage your condition. (Less than 50% of diabetic patients achieve recommended glycemic goals).
You have a busy schedule and help to make changes. First, you ask for a referral to a diabetes management programs. Next, you prioritize regular exercise in your schedule. Lastly, begin a mindful practice to keep the changes required to manage your condition.
Diabetes occurs in people of all ages, however, it’s more common in older adults.
On average, men outlive their ability to drive safely by six years, and women by 10 years.
Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older.
National Council on Aging: https://www.ncoa.org/