What Is Positive Ageing And Why Is It Important?
What Is Positive Ageing?
Positive ageing is an approach that encourages a healthy mindset and a commitment to staying physically, socially and cognitively active in our older years. Positive ageing encourages people to revel in the positive aspects of old age and continue to engage in an enjoyable and fulfilling lifestyle.
This approach is about maintaining or improving your quality of life as you age and not falling into the trap of believing that your best years are behind you. Positive ageing is also sometimes referred to as healthy ageing, productive ageing or competent ageing.
Why Is Positive Ageing Important?
The older age demographic already makes up a large percentage of the population and is growing rapidly. It’s important to address attitudes towards old age in order to help create meaningful, satisfying lifestyles for people in the later years of their life course.
Positive ageing simply refers to maintaining a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle. While this seems easy, the circumstances of many of the typical approaches to old age can present obstacles to this. Some of the difficulties that older people might find include:
- Maintaining social networks, particularly if they can’t participate in hobbies as easily or if their family doesn’t live near them.
- Remaining free of debilitating disease or injury – as old age makes muscles weaker, bones more frail and our bodies more susceptible to illness, this can make it difficult to maintain a positive outlook. It can also make it harder to participate in physical activity.
- Sadness or loneliness – many older people feel like they lose their sense of purpose as they age, particularly when they retire. Poor mental health is also common in the older population because of the difficulty of adjusting to the change.
It’s important for aged care facilities to address some of these factors and take steps to help positively shape the lifestyles of their residents. Aged care providers can begin to implement positive ageing strategies by establishing social activities, facilitating physical activity and accommodating individual lifestyle preferences.
Key Features Of Positive Ageing
One of the main principles of positive ageing is to encourage positive attitudes towards ageing and the possibilities of life as an older person. Some examples of attributes and strategies to help maintain a positive attitude include:
- Being flexible and unafraid of change
- Not losing your sense of humour
- Accepting limitations and wanting to make the most of what you can do
- A desire and willingness to maintain social relationships
- Having a sense of optimism and determination
- Wanting to live a quality life
The changes that come with ageing may be challenging and difficult to accept. Some of the transitions that you may need to work through include:
- Retiring and adapting to a lifestyle without the constant routine of work
- Requiring different living arrangements or a greater level of care
- Changes in your health or the health of loved ones
How To Promote Positive Ageing
There are a number of different avenues that could be used to promote positive ageing and combat the negative stereotypes associated with old age. Some of the most important aspects of positive ageing include encouraging social interaction, getting enough physical activity, actively developing a positive mindset and keeping your mind sharp.
A personalised care plan can help give an older person and their loved ones an understanding of their limitations as well as the kind of lifestyle adjustments that they’ll need to adapt to. This can also help the person feel that their personal safety is assured, which can go towards improving their outlook.
Strategies For Positive Ageing
There are a number of strategies that can help achieve positive ageing.
Don’t allow yourself to become lonely and isolated. Find as many ways to make new connections as possible and stay in touch with existing companions as much as you can.
Different ways to foster social connections and create communities throughout old age include:
- Joining and participating in social groups, such as a book club, a walking group or a gardening club.
- Reaching out to family members or friends over video chat if it’s not possible to physically see them.
- Signing up to do volunteer work or take a class – this would provide a great opportunity to meet people.
- If you’re single and looking for a life partner, you might consider online dating.
It’s important for everyone to maintain a level of physical fitness, but as you get older it can be something that becomes more difficult and seems less important, leading you to neglect it. On the contrary, it’s very important for older people to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week. This doesn’t have to be an intense run or a gruelling workout, it could be as simple as doing something you enjoy, like gardening or going for a walk.
One strategy to make physical activity more enjoyable is to join a group of people who enjoy the same activity – such as a yoga class. If you want to engage in a certain type of exercise but you’re not sure if it’s safe for you, you should ask your doctor.
One of the most important aspects of positive ageing is to commit to maintaining a positive outlook and relieving and reducing stress whenever possible. You can do this by engaging in activities like tai chi, meditation or deep breathing exercises.
For some people, stress relief might also mean staying close to their family and remaining active community members. Banfields Aged Care provides flexible services for those who wish to stay in a familiar living environment. Others may wish to move to more age-friendly communities.
Maintain a healthy diet
It’s especially important as you get older to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to support your bones and muscles and reduce the impact of disease. You should also attempt to maintain a healthy weight by eating until you no longer feel hungry, rather than eating to the point of being full. This strategy is useful because it can take around 20 minutes for our brain to identify that we’re full and by that point we might’ve already eaten too much.
Stay mentally engaged
It’s important to find ways to continue to stimulate your brain as you get older, because this can help reduce the chance of experiencing memory loss or impaired brain function. Some strategies to work on your mental fitness include:
- Doing crossword puzzles or sudoku
- Enrolling in an educational course to learn something new – it’s never too late for personal growth
- Playing board games or card games, especially games that require strategy (e.g. chess)
- Learning a new language
Research has made it clear that a positive attitude is essential to improving your quality of life as you get older. A positive ageing strategy can help you enjoy your older years and find a new sense of fulfilment and purpose.