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Aging Gracefully
By Dr Lavina Noronha

February 17, 2013


Aging is not a disease. Key to successful aging is acceptance of the changes that are taking place in the body and the mind. Experts agree that aging gracefully is not always easy but attitude matters a lot. Aging in itself is not a problem but what you think and feel about the aging process could be. It is true that the clock begins to tick away whether you like it or not. Therefore, denial is not going to get you anywhere.

Anticipating the changes that come with aging could help you from being overwhelmed when it does happen. Preparing oneself psychologically for what is yet to come is an art in itself. There is a positive side to aging- it also means you are wiser and are more experienced and it has its own perks. As you board a crowded bus, four youngsters get up to give you their seats (they used to).

Dentures, bifocals, hearing aids, walking canes, and adult diapers are things invented to make the lives of the elders comfortable and not to embarrass them. However, it has to be borne in mind that coloring the hair may make you look younger but it may not make you feel younger. It is impossible to fool oneself no matter how hard one tries. In a society that is obsessed with anti-aging formulas, graceful aging becomes a challenge. Face-lifts, tummy tucks, wigs and Botox are no remedies for the sense of isolation and emptiness experienced by many elders.

One of the realities of aging is that you start attending funerals more than Christenings or weddings. Death of a spouse, or close friends can be unnerving for many and the question “will I be next?” becomes a natural outcome. One has to develop a mature perspective about these threats and not slip into depression. Losing one’s freedom is much worse than sagging muscles or aching bones and many elders retaliate when well-meaning loved-ones overwhelm them with do’s and don’ts. (Try not to be irritated if your children call you from across the ocean to ask you if you have turned off the stove or bolted the door.

Given below are some tips to help you age with grace:

- Regular exercise is good to keep your mind, your heart, your metabolism active. Walking, jogging, swimming is good enough at least two to three times a week. “Exercise can help make you stronger, prevent bone loss, improve balance and coordination.” says Dr. Chanda Dutta, Chief of Gerontology at the National Institute of Aging.

- Even when folks are bed-bound or restricted to a wheelchair, there are exercises that can be done sitting down or lying down. If the elder is a paralytic, then the loved-ones or caregivers can assist them in exercising- massage, physiotherapy definitely help in recuperation and rejuvenation even in survivors of stroke.
 
- Challenge yourself physically, mentally and socially. Phrases like “I am too old, I am weak, I cannot do it” should be eliminated from your vocabulary. Be realistic but do not lose hope. You may not be able to run like you used to 10 years ago but you can walk.
 
- Learn something new, unlearn what is destructive. There is no age limit to learning. Keep your mind alert and active with brain exercises.
 
- Laugh more. Humor strengthens the immune system. Learn to laugh at yourself. Smile more frown less. Cry if you feel like it but do not feel sorry for yourself.
 
- Let go of all the bygones that are unpleasant. Forget past hurts, it is not worth hanging on to them. Besides, if you hang on to the past, the present could become a nightmare.
 
- Try to make friends with the younger generations. There is a lot we can learn from others. Communicate with people your own age. Learn how they are handling the aging process.
 
- Keep the spirit alive. Even when the body is falling apart, you can keep your spirits up.
 
- Respect your body - do not indulge in smoking or drinking or any risky behaviors. When the immune system is compromised, these habits could be deadly. Eat in moderation. As we advance in age we should be eating to live not living to eat.
 
- Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Increasing fiber in the diet helps regulate the metabolism. Remember, dentures are not just for cosmetic purposes, they help in chewing the food which enhances assimilation and digestion. Constipation and bloating are two complaints common among the elderly that result from not chewing the food and lack of fiber intake.
 
- Take care of legal issues. Make a will.
 

Always remember, senior citizens are not second class citizens. When someone treats you like one, you gently remind them that they too will be seniors someday.

 

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Comments on this article
Candle, MangaloreThursday, February 21, 2013
Wonderful article with full of positiveness.Thanks Doc, you make me feel young.
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Lingappa, Kuppepadavu /DublinThursday, February 21, 2013
Mate,, good write up,very informative, though I am a fitness freak,your insight had made me feel younger than my 44 years !
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Dr. Savitha Pereira, MangaloreWednesday, February 20, 2013
Very good information! Inspiring to take measures before we get into problems.
Thank you Dr. Lavina for this wonderful article.
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Florine, Mangalore-BangaloreWednesday, February 20, 2013
Dr. Lavina,

Bravo, very well written indeed ! The article gives insight to all the unwanted fears we people go thru & how to sail smoothly while greying ! Plse do keep writing !
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geoffrey, hat hillTuesday, February 19, 2013
We don't stop playing because we grow old we grow old because we stop playing. -GBS
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TC , Mangalore/SydneyTuesday, February 19, 2013
Aging gracefully -nice topic and well presented thoughts by Dr. Lavina -it is easily said, but hard accepting in reality though, because it`s quite natural and normal for any human being to strive to look young and feel good at all times, irrespective of their age, so they tend to do their best and go to any extent to present themselves young and healthy by dyeing their hair and/or facial make up. There are a number of reasons for this, I suppose, the main reason being, for instance, if one is rather young who has full of grey hair that displays an older look, which incidentally is quite common these days and they just do not want to go about with that look. The presentation of younger look also helps them to feel good for themselves, and especially, helps them to secure or maintain a job in the present extremely competitive employment market, and in addition, of course, their overall acceptance in the present, rather harsh and cruel society and social circle, and not being written off as oldie and used by status. Moreover, dyeing ones hair or some facial make up helps one individual to look and feel good themselves, and brightens their life so that they go up and running. I, for one, even though I had the grey hair as early as in my late twenties, which I did not like at all, started dyeing my hair at that stage, and am still doing so till now - and mind you, I am nearing 70 now, I feel good myself and I still do maintain my younger and healthy look because I like that way
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Francis J. Saldanha, Moodubelle / BahrainMonday, February 18, 2013
Once again a very informative article from Dr Laveena. The best and positive way of looking at things when gradually gets in to the senior citizen zone. Hence discipline in one’s life is utmost important especially for someone who is not so young. I for one certainly believe that aging is not a disease!!!
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Fr. Richard Mascarenhas SJ, Puttur/MundgodMonday, February 18, 2013
It is a very good article in deed! I only wish that the present aging members of our society get an opportunity to go through such articles and have a proper attitude for a peaceful evening of their life. Of course we all of us have to go through this experience in our lives. According to Carl G.Jung each stage (Morning, Noon and Evening) of our life is very important and it has to be appreciated and lived gracefully. Congrats Dr. Lavina for enlightening the growing members of our human society.
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Lita D Silva, Kulshekar, MangaloreMonday, February 18, 2013
Laveena as usual a very good and informative article.
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ad, mangloorMonday, February 18, 2013
Ageing is the beginning of a new life, a devine life for which we are born and destined to. Calling ageing persons senior citizens is albeit a political one.

Growing old is a process everyone and everything goes through. Recent times have looked ageing is an end but it is not.

The younger generation must understand and care the ageing persons when they can not look after themselves.

Learn from the aged because this way the wisdom never gets buried.
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Jawar D'Souza, M'lore/DohaSunday, February 17, 2013
A very good article from Dr. Lavina, though every one knows that every second moves forward one second is lost from our Lives. No one takes this seriously. Anyway we will follow some healthy habbits and live longer.
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Dr K S Bhat, MangaloreSunday, February 17, 2013
Thanks Dr Lavina for this great article with progressive ideas. I always wanted to express my sadness and disapproval on one aspect of ageing these days. I think this is the perfect forum.

As mentioned ageing is universal and is for everyone. As people get older these days they resort to excessive facial and hair colouring. People look really really artificial with the face of a 60 year old having hair of a 20 year old. Sorry to say, I do not want to hurt anyone but I have seen some old men/women hardly able to walk but with complete hair colour and facial. Further the body and posture clearly shows their age but the face is made to look exceptionally young.

The concept of ageing gracefully is totally missing in our society. I think people should be more mature and accept ageing process gracefully. We shoudl not forget that the younger generation is looking up to us.
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Lydia Lobo, KadriSunday, February 17, 2013
So true especially the particular ending note.

When we hear that a particular incident happened to the narrator when s/he was fifty, we feel 'Oh ! that is still too far'. But we never know how we slowly drift closer to the milestone of fifty ! Lets be prepared always.

Thank you for this wonderful article.
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anita britto, Mangalore/AucklandSunday, February 17, 2013
Apt and informative article for so many of us who are 40 ....

Or rather closer to approaching 50 :)

Nice perspective into looking at the positive side of aging with handy tips which are easy to follow.

Thanks, Dr. Lavina
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