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Counseling Corner: Yes, you can age gracefully

4/14/2019, 10:40 p.m.
As we age, things change. Some of those changes are obvious in the mirror, while others become evident when a ...
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American Counseling Assoc.

As we age, things change. Some of those changes are obvious in the mirror, while others become evident when a flight of stairs leaves us out of breath, or when we can’t remember the name of that cousin in Omaha.

Accepting the physical and mental changes that occur as we get older can be stressful. The aging process can be frightening in some ways, especially if we aren’t prepared for the gradual changes that we all face. But we can prepare for the inevitable changes aging brings, and take some actions to help minimize the effects of those changes.

Becoming older brings a variety of physical changes. Our bones become smaller and weaker, the heart pumps blood at a lower rate, our metabolism and digestive system slow down, we face more dental problems, and our skin begins to wrinkle and become less elastic.

So what’s the good news?

Simply – there are ways to fight back. No, you can’t stop all the changes that getting older brings, but you definitely can accept those changes and take action to minimize the negative effects.

What this means is being proactive in terms of aging. Staying healthy at any age doesn’t just happen. Diet, for example, is an important part of feeling good and staying healthy regardless of your age, but it is especially important as we get older. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is one way to assist your slowed-down digestive system and to increase overall energy.

You might also check with your family physician about whether vitamin and mineral supplements might be a good idea. And seeing that physician on a regular basis can help minimize the risk of suddenly facing a serious health problem.

We can also fight the aging process by staying physically and mentally active. Exercises like muscle training and resistance work can help reverse bone loss and fight the back problems that often come with aging. Your local YMCA or physical trainer can help set up a program appropriate for you.

Maintaining social contacts, learning something new like a musical instrument or foreign language, or just playing word games or doing crossword puzzles can all help keep your brain active.

Getting older may not always be fun, but you can take actions to help minimize the stress it can bring and overcome the limitations aging might otherwise put on your life.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions can be emailed to acacorner@counseling.org or visit http://www.counseling.org.