HEALTHY LIVING: Don’t just sit there on the couch

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The subject of this column came to me during a visit with my mother in law and her sister, 83 and 84 years young.  Both widows, both have several grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Both adamant in the fact that the want to and like to stay busy and feel useful.  Not to be confused with being used, but feeling like they are contributing to life instead of just existing.  Granted, they are moving a little slower and can’t work as hard as they did 20 years ago, but they wake up with purpose every single day and this makes life enjoyable for them.  They still keep their own houses and help their children with theirs.  They both spoil the kids and babysit regularly.  They both love to cook and take care of their flowers.   The point is they are not sitting and watching TV for hours on end.

As we achieve senior status, after working many years and raising families, some may think that spending quality time in the easy chair with our nose in a book or nodding off to the sound of the TV might be a goal.  However, over the years I have had the pleasure of volunteering with and working with many senior adults and the consensus is, “I want to be busy”!  That doesn’t mean having something planned for every daylight hour of every day, but having something to look forward to and feeling productive is a very good thing.

Older adults who stay active could be shielding themselves from psychological distress such as depression, according to a new study.

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Researchers reported that people who are the most physically active are also the ones who are the least likely to be functionally limited — meaning, the less active a person is, the higher the risk of being functionally limited.

“Physical activity is more powerful than any medication a senior can take,” Dr. Cheryl Phillips, a San Francisco physician and president of the American Geriatrics Society.  Being active can help an aging senior in a wide range of ways, from strengthening social relationships to improving memory and even preventing depression.

There are several ways to remain active, busy, and productive.  Have a hobby.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but being creative exercises the mind and gives a sense of accomplishment.  Check on other senior adults, are there other folks in your neighborhood that also need social interaction?  A short visit, something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee and conversation a couple of times a week could really be a boost to you and the person you visit.  Volunteer at a school, many schools are looking for adults to come and read to their students to help them sharpen their skills.  What a great way to help yourself and the kids.  Take a fitness class, mild exercise is good for the bones, muscles and the brain.  Join an organization, social, civic or both.  Being around others with similar interests and participating in activities opens up your world.   Learn a new skill.  Always wanted to know how to draw?  Write?  Take a class. 

The key to life, aging, and just about everything else, is balance.  Take time to relax and do stop and smell those roses.  But live your life, don’t just exist waiting for life to come to you or worse yet, don’t let it pass you by. 

In mind, body, and spirit, live healthy my friends.