By Karen Everett Watson
The longer I live, the more convinced I am that everything in life is linked together. Experts are now finding that when we stay active in their later years we will be less likely to have trouble with dementia, and just generally experience a more satisfying life.
That exercise and staying involved is good for us isn’t really all that surprising. Just think about the most interesting and successful senior that you know. Chances are good that they stay active, both in body and in mind. People who are never done learning and doing are interesting, suffer less depression and enjoy life until their last breath.
Exercise engages are senses, works our muscles, and usually involves some socializing. How many of you walk with a friend, or take an exercise class with a buddy? Dancing, golfing, and even bird watching usually is done with a friend. The more we engage in conversation and socializing, the better it is for our mind and our outlook on like. Research shows that conversing with different people works different parts of our brain. Just try talking to a 4-year-old. Now that can be a work out for anyone’s brain!
Every physical activity has merit when it comes to building a strong body. Sweeping the porch, or weeding the flower bed works our muscles and that means were less likely to suffer a fall. Our balance improves when we stay active. Even though we might start to take a tumble, we’re able to catch ourselves more easily when we have strong muscles.
I truly admire my mother for how active she stays. She not only works tirelessly in the yard, but she reads everything, listens to music, always has a jig-saw puzzle going, and never misses going to worship. She always has time for the grandkids and the great-grandkids. She’s gets tired, but she is truly happy. Being a well-rounded person means being a healthier person – body, soul and mind.
When an elder loses a spouse, they often lose the person they are active with. While staying in our own homes is what we all hope for, sometimes it’s not for the best. If you know an older person who has become less active and has dropped socializing with friends, you have reason for concern. Many elders I have interviewed in retirement communities have told me that moving was the best thing they could have done. Most did not have much of a choice due to a health crisis, but once they settled into an assisted living, or retirement community, their lives changed for the better. They made new friends, became more active. Their whole outlook on life changed. Isn’t that a lot better than sitting by yourself in a big house?
So the lesson for us all is to stay active, stay engaged, and never stop learning. Each season in our lives brings new lessons to learn. We may be wiser when we are older, but we’re not finished yet!
Guest Blogger for Aileen Brazeau