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9 Scientific Secrets to Healthy Aging

mature couple preparing meal

The second half of your life can bring some of your most rewarding decades. You may be more confident than your younger self. You gain wisdom and patience. Sure, your hair sprouts more grays and your face sports more lines. But you can grow older with your body and mind as healthy as they can possibly be.

Here are science-backed secrets to do just that.

Aging and motivated cognition: the positivity effect in attention and memory

As people get older, they experience fewer negative emotions. Strategic processes in older adults’ emotional attention and memory might play a role in this variation with age. Older adults show more emotionally gratifying memory distortion for past choices and autobiographical information than younger adults do. In addition, when shown stimuli that vary in affective valence, positive items account for a larger proportion of older adults’ subsequent memories than those of younger adults. This positivity effect in older adults’ memories seems to be due to their greater focus on emotion regulation and to be implemented by cognitive control mechanisms that enhance positive and diminish negative information. These findings suggest that both cognitive abilities and motivation contribute to older adults’ improved emotion regulation.

The positivity effect

Research shows that aging often involves a decrease in the experience of negative affect and might even be associated with a stabilization or an increase in experience concerning positive affect. As it has been suggested that these changes could be related to the processing of emotional information, the aim of this study was to investigate interference and inhibition toward sad and happy faces in healthy elderly people compared to a younger population.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20336546/

COVID-19: Older people’s stories

HelpAge International is working with older people and network members around the world to respond to the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Click on the link below to find out about their experiences and how they are responding to the spread of the virus. https://www.helpage.org/newsroom/covid19-older-peoples-stories/

An ‘Awe Walk’ Might Do Wonders for Your Well-Being

Older men and women who took a fresh look at the objects and vistas around them felt more upbeat and hopeful.

Consciously watching for small wonders in the world around you during an otherwise ordinary walk could amplify the mental health benefits of the stroll, according to an interesting new psychological study of what the study’s authors call “awe walks.”

In the study, people who took a fresh look at the objects, moments and vistas that surrounded them during brief, weekly walks felt more upbeat and hopeful in general than walkers who did not. The findings are subjective but indicate that awe walks could be a simple way to combat malaise and worry. They also underscore that how we think and feel during exercise can alter how the exercise alters us.

There already is considerable evidence, of course, that exercise, including walking, can buoy our moods. Past studies have linked increased physical activity to greater happiness and reduced risks for anxiety, depression and other mental ills.

Feeling a sense of awe also seems to up our overall feelings of gladness and improve health. A somewhat nebulous emotion, awe generally is defined as the sense that you are in the presence of something larger and more consequential than yourself and that this something is mysterious and ineffable. In past studies, people who reported feeling awe also tended to have less emotional stress and lower levels of substances related to body-wide inflammation.

Aging Well

Staying healthy and feeling your best is important at any age. These tips can help you cope with change and live life to the fullest.

Healthy aging means continually reinventing yourself as you pass through landmark ages such as 60, 70, 80 and beyond. It means finding new things you enjoy, learning to adapt to change, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones. Unfortunately, for many of us, aging also brings anxiety and fear. How will I take care of myself late in life? What if I lose my spouse? What is going to happen to my mind? However, many of these fears often stem from popular misconceptions about aging. The truth is that you are stronger and more resilient than you may realize. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/staying-healthy-as-you-age.htm

Focus on the things you’re grateful for. The longer you live, the more you lose. But as you lose people and things, life becomes even more precious. When you stop taking things for granted, you appreciate and enjoy what you have even more.

THE BEAUTIFUL HARMONY OF CARING AND COMPASSION FOR ELDERS

We all like to think that we have compassion for others don’t we?   After all, we give care, so we must have empathy.  Is there a difference between caring and true compassion?

Caring for another person is is an act of displaying kindness and concern for others.  It is the work or practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves, especially sick or elderly people.

Compassion is a form of emotional engagement that is beneficial to patient care.  Compassion involves the  sharing of feelings of another as a means of coming to an understanding and appreciation for how they feel.

Can we provide adequate care to someone else without being compassionate?  Unfortunately I believe our standards of care for elderly, disabled and sick individuals have focused on care without the importance of compassion, empathy and understanding.

If empathy involves emotional engagement with someone else, it also involves understanding their world.  We can care for someone by providing for needs but not necessarily moving into their world, walking in their shoes and sharing in their struggles, joys and challenges.

When compassion and caring merge, care partners build trust, form deeper and more meaningful relationships and go beyond physical needs to digging deeper in understanding and meeting emotional and spiritual needs, these are the values at Luxcare Senior Care.

Compassion training, especially for those caring for someone with dementia, chronic illness, pain and end-of-life can empower both care partners, families and communities in which they live.

Educating families and professionals in understanding and helping those they care for cope with their challenges starts with empathy, compassion and understanding for what that person is dealing with.  When a care giver gains empathy, their world merges with those they are caring for in new and wonderfully positive ways for everyone involved.

Take time to learn the art of compassion and mover from a caregiver to a compassionate caregiver.   Leaders, embrace compassion training for staff and families.  Everyone is better served with more compassionate caregivers.

Luxcare Senior Care, Victoria BC