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Habits of People Who Age Well
Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker Pamela D. Wilson - Caregiving Expert, Advocate & Speaker
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Denver, CO
Wednesday, March 27, 2024


Habits of People Who Age Well

The Caring Generation®—Episode 189, March 27, 2024. Do you know the habits of people who age well? Learn tips to live a better life as you grow older. Whether you are a caregiver or a person with health concerns, it is never too late to embrace positive habits and live a happier life.

10 Tips for Aging Well

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Questions about the habits of people who age well are a frequently discussed topic. Some people live to 100 and are fairly healthy, while others suffer from health problems beginning much earlier in life and don’t live as long.
Caregiving is an unexpected role that can significantly affect physical and mental health. Caregivers often neglect self-care because they are too busy caring for others.
With all of the experience and knowledge that caregivers gain by caring for grandparents, aging parents, spouses, and others, why are they sometimes the least prepared for what it takes to age well?
Whether you are a caregiver, a person who needs care, or someone who came across this podcast and is somewhere in the middle, these ten tips will be valuable to you as you age so that you can live better as you grow older

1 Everything has a shelf life or wears out

Think of the items in your refrigerator like milk, eggs, cheese, and salad dressing. These have expiration dates. Think of your car, a refrigerator, washer and dryer. These eventually break down and must be replaced.
The problem with the human body is that, in total, it’s not replaceable. Parts like hips, knees, and shoulders can be repaired.
The opportunity with the human body is becoming aware of how we treat it from the time we’re born to the time we expire. The challenge is that most people don’t learn about this opportunity early in life.
Doctors and health enthusiasts discuss the benefits of exercise. What is the balance between daily activity, exercise, and muscle-strengthening activities?
When we look at world-class athletes, several have had injuries and still go out and play sports. Golfer Tiger Woods is one of these individuals. There is an article in Golf.com about Tiger Woods saying he hurts “everywhere.”
An injury in one body part can affect other body parts. For Tiger, this includes his right foot, back, knees, neck, and hips. Serena Williams, the tennis star, dealt with recurring shoulder and knee injuries. Lindsey Vonn, a skier, tore the ACL ligament in her right knee and fractured the knee.
How many of you know a friend who has had a knee or hip replacement or rotator cuff surgery? How well did they recover?
Injuries become more common with age. While people who exercise may experience physical injuries, they are generally healthier overall than people who don’t exercise.
People who exercise recover from health issues more quickly. They also tend to spend time with people who exercise and have healthy eating habits.
So, look at the habits of the people you spend the most time with and decide. Is this the lifestyle and quality of health you want, or is there a better or healthier way to live?
Starting and making exercise a habit may be a challenge, but after you make it past the initial hump and establish a consistent day-in and day-out habit, you will miss any day that you don’t get some type of physical activity.
The risks of not exercising include chronic health issues. Being physically inactive can lead to heart disease, being overweight, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and other conditions.
Add to this weak muscles and bones, more mental and emotional health concerns, and poor sleep. Not to mention that people who don’t exercise can appear to age faster than those who do exercise.
So, while bodies age, the best thing you can do to protect your physical health and mental well-being is to exercise and be active every day. Embrace the habits of people who age well early and often.

2 Being in poor health is expensive

While there are many complaints about the cost of health insurance, being sick and needing ongoing care or treatment is expensive.
Let’s say you have employer-subsidized health insurance. There is the annual deductible, and then you may have another portion called “out of pocket,” which is a cost share percentage.
For the average person, an annual deductible and out-of-pocket costs can range between $7500 and $10,000 a year. Do you have this amount of money sitting in your bank account for a health emergency or diagnosis?
Medical debt is one of the top reasons individuals file for bankruptcy. By being proactive about your health, you can save money and embrace the habits of people who age well.

3 Catch things before they catch up with you

Let’s say you’ve been doing great with exercise and eating habits, and a stressful event happens that takes you off track. Now, you’re going to Starbucks every day for a Moca Frappuccino in a 20-ounce cup that has 500 calories, 140 mg of caffeine, and 79 grams of sugar, and to Dunkin Donuts for a chocolate glazed donut, 360 calories.
That’s 860 calories, about half of the total suggested daily allowance of calories. Suddenly, the numbers on your scale are up 5 or 10 lbs.
Did you know that the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar in a day; for women, the number is 25 grams? When you consider Moca Frappucino or a 12-ounce can of soda with 32 grams of added sugar, most people have reached their maximum with a single drink.
Be attentive to the small things and habits of people who age well to avoid surprises. The small things might seem small until they become major health problems with significant costs.

4 Stuff: accumulating and decluttering

This topic frequently arises when adult children caregivers help a parent move and find 40 years of accumulated stuff in the attic or basement stuffed into dresser drawers and closets. So before you have a house filled to the brim with stuff, ask yourself, do I really need all this stuff.
Declutter your home every six months, making this an easy habit for people who age well. Having stuff might be nice; however, there are time commitments to take care of possessions and accept more responsibilities.
For example, the idea of having a dog might be nice. Dogs are amazing companions, but they do not come without responsibilities. You have to walk the dog and feed it. If you want to go somewhere for a weekend, you must take the dog or find someone to take care of it. If you work outside the home, does the dog need to be let out during the day?
Another fun thing is having a boat and the social opportunities this offers. Having a boat is great, but you may need a boat trailer and a truck instead of a car to tow it. Cleaning the boat after use can become an entire weekend project. Insurance and gas for the boat can be expensive.
Having stuff and nice things is wonderful. However, things represent responsibilities and duties of care. Before you add to your possessions, make sure you understand the commitment involved so that you can join in the habits of people who age well.

5 Be aware of the practical aspects of where and how you live—your home

When you’re young, married, and raising children, you may need a large house. When it’s only the two of you or, or you’ve always lived alone, do you really need all that house and yard work and maintenance that gets more expensive over time?
Does your home need a lot of maintenance and upkeep? When you are on a limited income after retirement, how affordable will this home be? If you belong to a community with a homeowner’s association, how much have the dues increased year over year?
While you may think you have forever to plan, something like a fall could happen tomorrow that will make caring for a home more difficult. Or if you are a caregiver, your parents may want you to move to be closer to them.
Adult children who have experience with aging parents who must downsize or move due to health concerns know that you don’t clean out an entire house and complete repairs and maintenance projects in a matter of days. These projects can take weeks or even months to complete.
So rather than wait until a move is necessary, declutter today, complete home repairs, and be in a position to move if or when necessary. Join in the habits of people who age well and plan where and how they will live in later years.

6 The unexpected happens when you least expect it

Even the healthiest person will need care someday. Car accidents happen every day. Tripping can result in a fall and broken bones. Heart attacks never happen at convenient times.
Eventually, the body wears out and dies. No one lives forever. As previously mentioned, being in poor health is expensive.
However, if you want more choices in life, embracing the habits of people who age well by saving money gives you more options. Access to good healthcare comes through having the ability to shift money for co-pays, treatments, and care.
How many caregivers discover that their parents have no savings and feel obligated to use their money to pay for the care of aging parents? The answer is more than you might imagine. Many adult children place their retirement years at risk by shifting their income and savings to the care of aging parents.
Family culture, guilt, duty, and responsibility are significant motivators to consider when planning for the future. The more you plan from all perspectives, financial, medical and family, the more prepared you will be for the unexpected.
Now that you know this information talk to your parents about the importance of planning for aging well.
If you don’t know how to plan or what to expect, a course on my website, Caring for Aging Parents, will give you an idea of the emotional and financial stresses of dealing with family and the healthcare system so that you can be better prepared.

7 Decisions to live far from or near family

Now, this may not be your choice if your children move away from the family home. Maybe you’re fortunate that all of your family lives in the same town. On the other hand, you may be the one who moves.
Moving away from family necessitates habits of creating friendships and joining groups so that you have non-family support. If you have no children or family nearby, then you need a better and earlier plan for aging well.
Part of this plan can be building a network of friends in similar situations who commit to supporting each other. Some housing communities are being built today that are dedicated to offering support to solo agers.
Homeowner’s associations and local neighborhood groups have started senior groups by creating lists of resources for those who need help and hosting regular social events and get-togethers. Building a network of friends is another habit of people who age well. Start building your network today. .

8 Develop good coping and adaptation skills

There will be times when it’s wise to give up or make adjustments to things you enjoy. For example, giving up the car keys due to physical concerns or memory loss can be a significant loss because of the perceived restriction of freedom and being able to come and go.
Researching transportation options is one solution in this instance. Especially if you are an adult child encouraging a parent to stop driving or if you have the power of attorney and have a duty to take away the car keys.
If you are older and have friends and you drive, you may offer to become the driver for a friend once a month or pick them up for a social activity. If you are the person who had to give up the car, you may make transportation arrangements through a friend, a local transportation service, or a taxi-type service.
Let’s say you are an avid downhill skier, but your knees and back don’t love the bumps and hills anymore. So, instead, you take up cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. You still enjoy the outdoor winter weather, but you are now choosing to be active differently.

9 Years pass quickly

Societal and medical bias exists for individuals perceived as “older.” Older can be perceived by the presence of a physical disability, weakness, illness, or simply gray hair
It’s important to note that if you are older and working with the healthcare system, the more factual and detail-oriented you can become, the better care you will receive. Doctors are short on time and benefit from factual information.
This concept may be difficult to understand until you are in a situation where a physician is not listening to you or accommodating your health differences. You may feel that you go to the doctor, and nothing resolves, which can be frustrating.
In this case, you must be an aggressive advocate or have family members who can do this for you. Cultivating an attitude of continuous learning and responding to life’s ups and downs is another habit of people who age well.

10 Living alone or being isolated poses risk factors

If you live in a rural area, are you prepared for storms or weather-related events? If something happens to you do you have an emergency plan? What if your car breaks down?
In addition to practical considerations, social participation, activities, and friendships become more important with age. Research confirms that remaining socially active is good for the body and the mind.
The after-effects of COVID confirmed the risks of isolation on mental abilities, including increasing depression. Individuals who suffer from depression are more likely to be diagnosed with more chronic diseases.
family caregiver support programs
So, if you have no friends or social outlets, try to find and engage in new hobbies and join social groups of individuals with similar interests.
Find a way to do something you enjoy every day or an activity that allows you to learn something new.
Take a class at a community college or through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
There’s no reason to feel isolated, alone, or bored! Regarding aging, you have a significant amount of control over your life the earlier you begin to embrace the good habits mentioned in this podcast. The earlier you start, the more opportunity you have to create the life you want. Start today.

Looking For Help Caring for Elderly Parents? Find the Information, Including Step-by-Step Processes, in Pamela’s Online Program.

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Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, is an international caregiver subject matter expert, advocate, speaker, and consultant. With more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, fiduciary, and care manager in the fields of caregiving, health, and aging, she delivers one-of-a-kind support for family caregivers and aging adults.

Pamela may be reached at +1 303-810-1816 or through her website.

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Name: Pamela Wilson
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Group: Pamela D. Wilson, Inc.
Dateline: Golden, CO United States
Direct Phone: 303-810-1816
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