By Rachel Welch
It’s easy to become fixated on the negative aspects of getting older as we age. But the truth is, there are many reasons to celebrate the continuation of life and even embrace the later stages.
With age comes wisdom, experience, and a sense of self that can only be gained through living.
And with a few simple lifestyle changes, both men and women can age gracefully and continue to live their best lives well into their 50s, 60s, and beyond.
In this article, we'll explore five keys to aging gracefully that can help you feel confident, vibrant, and fulfilled regardless of age. From staying active and social to nourishing your body with healthy food and your spirit with positive relationships, these tips will help you embrace the beauty of aging and live your best life at any age.
So, whether you're a man or a woman, over 50, or just getting there, let's dive in and discover the secrets to aging gracefully together.
Common Ailments of Aging That You May Experience
As people age, they may experience several common complaints, some of which contribute to the negative stigma and criticism that often accompanies aging.
Chronic Pain: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic pain affects approximately 50 million adults in the United States. As people age, the likelihood of experiencing chronic pain increases. Various factors, including arthritis, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions, can cause this pain.
Chronic pain can significantly impact the quality of life, and it's essential to manage it effectively to maintain overall health and well-being. Chronic pain seems to increase steadily after age 20, with veterans reporting higher rates than non-veterans.
Cognitive Decline: As people age, they may experience changes in cognitive function, such as memory loss, difficulty with attention and concentration, and a decline in problem-solving skills.
These changes can be a normal part of aging, but they can also be associated with the development of dementia or other cognitive disorders.
A longitudinal study examined a group of almost 3500 individuals over 20 years while measuring signs of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. They found that after 20 years, approximately 10% of the participants aged 65 and older had dementia, while over 22% had cognitive impairment.
Social Isolation: Some people may experience changes in their social networks as they get older from the difficult loss of friends and family members. This can lead to social isolation, associated with adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
Sleep Problems: As people age, they may experience changes in their sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including medication use, chronic pain, and changes in circadian rhythm.
Vision and Hearing Loss: As people age, they may experience changes in their vision and hearing, which can impact their daily activities and overall quality of life. These changes can be caused by things like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and presbycusis (age-related hearing loss).
While these are some of the lesser-loved side effects of aging, you can do plenty of things to help keep them at bay while ensuring positivity remains throughout your later years.
5 Keys to Graceful Aging and Feeling Youthful
To address some of the common ailments mentioned above, we found the 5 best tips to help you navigate the journey of aging.
In terms of physical aging, you can do a few things to ensure you maintain a healthy, youthful appearance as the years go by.
Nurturing Ageless Beauty in Your Skin
The skin is the largest organ in the body, which always sounds strange when you compare it to your heart, lungs, or kidneys. However, it provides a multitude of services to the body by protecting it from outside bacteria, creating a barrier against injury, and healing rapidly, when necessary.
It is only fair that we treat our skin as well as our skin treats us, and this can be done in several ways.
First, staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin’s overall health. This helps to ensure that your skin’s elasticity, healing capabilities, and overall appearance remain healthy and vibrant. Also, moisturizing regularly will keep your skin from cracking or becoming irritated.
Considering your skin is your largest organ, you should be mindful of what you put onto it. That’s why using a nontoxic lotion or moisturizer that does not contain parabens, fragrances, or other potentially harmful chemicals is important. Avoiding these problematic ingredients can not only help with aging but can also reduce the risk of related allergies or skin reactions.
Thankfully, there are apps to make nontoxic shopping much more accessible. Apps like Think Dirty and the Healthy Living app by the Environmental Working Group have a large database of products and a fountain of helpful information. They provide easy-to-understand lists of ingredients and why certain chemicals are less safe than others.
While the sun is a bountiful resource of vitamin D that the body craves, too much sun exposure can also damage the skin if not pursued responsibly.
Experts have found that sun exposure is the number one cause of visible aging, which they refer to as photoaging. High energy visible light (HEV) is responsible for about 10% of this, and not only comes from the sun but also from our electronic devices. HEV light is apparently to blame for sunspots, melasma, freckles, and spots that can turn into skin cancer.
This presents a balancing act; spending time in the sun is important to get vitamin D, endorphins, and other lovely benefits. But you don’t want to spend too much time in the sun for fear of being at risk of skin cancer or the acceleration of visible signs of aging. What’s the solution?
How Long to Stay in the Sun
When assessing how to get just the right amount of sun exposure, consider differences in skin tone. Those with lighter skin tones absorb sunlight more quickly than people with darker skin tones.
Additionally, factors like air pollution, weather, time of day, and season can alter the amount of available sunshine. Experts say that, on average, it takes the body around 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure to create vitamin D. Therefore, it is recommended that you spend 15-20 minutes outside without sunscreen to allow the vitamin D creation to begin. After that timeframe, applying sunscreen for the remainder of your time outside is recommended to prevent sun damage and the related aging of your skin.
Keep in mind that any part of your body exposed to the sun can absorb its beneficial rays and create vitamin D. If you are most concerned with aging or sunspots on your face, you could wear a hat while leaving your arms exposed with sunscreen, etc.
Or, if you wish to stay covered from the sun completely to avoid the aging side effects, you can always consider taking a supplement for vitamin D, thus reducing your necessary time in the sun altogether.
Graceful Transitions: Navigating the Path of Aging
When considering the ailments that aging may bring, you should also remind yourself that aging does not have to be a scary or negative experience.
Aging can be a graceful and joyous process if approached properly. Exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, maintaining valuable social connections, sleeping well, and managing stress all contribute to aging well. With aging comes unavoidable social pressures, but those can be disregarded. March to the beat of your own drum, so to speak. You’ve earned it!
The most important factor in aging is not how society sees you but how you feel and see yourself. By keeping the five keys in your back pocket, you can age with grace and, hopefully, with happiness.
Compare these four food analyzer apps to see which one is the right fit for you and your health goals!