The beach towels and umbrellas have been stashed away, the sun is setting earlier, and summer is officially drawing to a close. It’s hard to believe that we are well into final half of 2022—but for many of us at Hospice of Southwest Ohio, September feels like more of a fresh start than the actual New Year. After all, it marks the beginning of a new school year and the entrance of beautiful, crisp autumn mornings. And when the leaves start turning, we start thinking about turning over a new leaf ourselves.
September is also officially designated as Healthy Aging Month, and for more than 20 years, we’ve used this time to focus on the positive aspects of growing older. It’s true that aging can come with a certain amount of stigma, but we know better than anyone that age is truly just a number—and at a time when more than 16% of the U.S. population is aged 65 or older (that’s 54 million people!), it’s more important than ever to think of getting older not as an inevitable drag, but as a time to take stock of your life and maybe even reinvent yourself.
In 2022, there is no shortage of older adults taking out a new lease on life. From running marathons to cultivating new hobbies to saving lives through blood donation, many seniors have realized they don’t have to “act their age,” but rather “act how they feel”—and how you feel can be dramatically improved by prioritizing overall health and wellness. With that in mind, here are five ways to set yourself up for success during Healthy Aging Month.
- Get moving. You might want to take a well-deserved break once you hit retirement age, but don’t let physical activity fall by the wayside. Regular exercise can boost your mood, build muscle, help control blood pressure, and aid in the management of many other conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Just make sure to check in with your doc if you’re planning on taking up an intensive new sport, like marathon running!
- Prioritize your health with preventative care. What better time than Healthy Aging Month to set yourself up for success in the coming year by scheduling your annual physicals? As you get older, it’s even more important to stay on top of your physical health, and regular screenings can keep you in top shape for years to come. Set aside an afternoon to schedule or confirm appointments with your primary care physician, optometrist, dentist, and any other specialists you might see.
- Take up a new hobby. Taking up an unfamiliar and mentally stimulating hobby can keep your from getting bored, but it can help you stay cognitively sharp. Give your brain a workout by picking up a musical instrument, learning a new language, or finding your inner artist through photography. Plus, learning something new is a great way to expand your social circle.
- Stay social. Speaking of social circles, it’s important to cultivate your relationships with family and friends as you get older. We all know that having a strong support system makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but close relationships are essential for physical health, too. In fact, some studies show that social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease. So whether it’s grabbing a coffee with a group of friends or staying connected to family on social media, make sure you taking time to connect with others in your life.
- Share your knowledge. You’re getting older, which means you have a wealth of life experience and important insights to share with younger generations. Consider volunteering with an organization that allows you to work alongside teenagers, offering your time to be interviewed for oral history projects at a local college, or take the time to engage with users on websites like Reddit. After all, what use is all your wisdom if it isn’t shared?
Getting older might be inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace the joys and opportunities that come with aging. This September, we encourage you to start thinking about the positive measures you can take to ensure your physical, mental and social wellness for years to come.