By Kelly Parsons
University of Kentucky
What goes up and never comes down again? Your age.
September is Healthy Aging Month and a time to celebrate the positive aspects of aging.
Keeping in touch with your neighbors, the community and the world lowers your risk of developing dementia. Staying social and engaged improves brain health.
There are many ways you can get involved in social activities, a local senior center, the Silver Sneakers program and volunteering with organizations in and around your community. Aging can be filled with self-growth and exploration. Healthy Aging Month is a reminder that engaging in social and productive activities has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve mood and help you live longer.
We experience significant changes as we age, retire, move to a new area, and changes in health or mobility can affect our ability to stay connected. These events can cause a loss of connection, which can cause you to become isolated or feel lonely, or both.
Here are five ways to celebrate Healthy Aging Month and encourage healthy aging in your life:
1. To become active — The body is the vessel of the soul. That is why maintenance is one of the most important elements of healthy aging. When it comes to exercising, it’s important to stick to a routine. Find a workout partner, take a dance class, or get outside and enjoy the fresh air. These are all great ways to stay active while having fun. You’ll be looking forward to your next workout sooner than you know.
2. Keep your mind sharp — Keeping your mind active will keep you mentally sharper than ever. Learning new recipes, playing word or number games, learning a musical instrument, and even joining a book club are fun ways to exercise your mind.
3. Keep exploring — Keep your life exciting by visiting new places, volunteering, and even traveling. Local libraries, senior centers, colleges and universities have programs for all interests. The University of Kentucky’s Office of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) offers educational and enrichment courses, forums, shared interest groups, travel, events and more for adults age 50 and older.
4. Stay up to date on your health status — Over time, it can be easy to lose track of routine doctor visits, but as we age, taking care of our health is more important than ever. Make this September the month to repeat annual vaccinations and screenings. Remember, Medicare pays for your annual wellness visit. Keeping up with your health can help prevent serious health problems in the future.
5. stay motivated — Sometimes, getting older can affect your mental and emotional health. Know that you are not alone. Finding a community can help keep you motivated.
Whether you’re in your 40s or your 80s, it’s never too early — or too late — to start your healthy aging journey. Celebrate Healthy Aging Month by making the decision to take care of yourself.
Kelly Parsons is a social worker at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.