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Monday, November 26, 2012

Can’t turn back time, but simplicity is key to healthy aging process

INDIANAPOLIS – Have you noticed that the numbers in the phone book seem to be getting smaller? Finding it more difficult to get down on your knees to look under the bed — and to get up again?

There’s no question that age brings changes to our lives. And yes, some of them we’d prefer to avoid. Physically, for example, stiffening joints can make it harder to get around. And many people find that their short-term memory just isn’t what it used to be. Often, difficult personal situations, such as the death of a spouse, can add to the negative changes.

“But age can bring positive changes too,” said Kerry Minnis, manager, Franciscan St. Francis Health Outpatient Behavioral Health. “Many older people say they have less stress and more time for family, interests and hobbies than they used to. In fact, the vast majority of older people report they are satisfied with their lives.”

To a great extent, what older age will be like for you depends on how you live now and how you cope with the changes that come your way. You may not be able to turn back time, but you can move in a direction that may make getting older easier and more pleasant.

Here’s what Minnis suggests:

• Maintain an active mind and body. Remember the adage, “Use it or lose it.”

• Be involved. Isolation can contribute to depression and other health problems. So keep connected to family and friends. Social connections can help ensure that you have physical and emotional support for what comes your way.

• Live a healthy lifestyle. The advice you heard when you were younger still applies: Eat well, maintain a healthy weight, get enough rest, don’t smoke, do what you can to stay safe and see your doctor regularly.

• Relish your leisure time. Do things you enjoy, and allow some downtime. Too much stress can contribute to a host of health problems.

• Practice healthy ways to cope. Believe in yourself, and remember: You can handle whatever comes your way.