older adult racers competing on racetrack

Redefining senior moments

Do you ever lose your keys, blank on someone’s name or forget why you walked into the kitchen? You may joke that you’re having a “senior moment.” However, adults over 65 are changing the storyline and showing a younger generation that “senior moment” can mean something entirely different.

Former United States Bocce Ball Champion Tony Battaglia is spending his time running a restaurant outside Detroit and coaching his team for the World Championships of Bocce in spring 2016 in Rome, Italy.

He’s 73 and just had a bilateral knee replacement.

Older adults today are breaking the mold and living life to the fullest in their golden years. They’re staying active, using the latest technology and unhinging outdated stereotypes of their generation. In fact, nearly 50 percent of adults age 65 and older exercise around 30 minutes three or more days a week. Thirty nine percent of those over the age of 70 are most likely to exercise every day.

Paradoxically, most young people identify seniors as “unproductive” or doing the minimum to maintain their health. Sixty six percent of young people believed senior citizens are “fragile.” That is certainly not the case for Las Vegas resident Bertha Shinn, 73, who has taken control of her diabetes and incorporated exercise into her daily routine. Each week, Bertha heads to the Humana Guidance Center in Las Vegas to participate in everything from Tai Chi to ballroom dancing. Today, she has significantly reduced her insulin intake and says she feels “healthy 100 percent [of the time.]”

“I have seen wonderful results. My doctor was shocked [at my positive health outcomes]. She didn’t know me well enough. She didn’t know how determined I was.”

You Are What You Think

Stereotypes can have a debilitating impact and can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. We internalize words like “unproductive”, “inflexible” and “inactive” because it’s what society believes to be the case as we age. Further, older adults often accept these pervasive stereotypes and use terms like “senior moment” to describe their perceived shortcomings.

A recent study by Yale University found a direct correlation between negative thoughts on aging – such as disability, decline in health or prediction of mortality – and poorer overall health. The participants who were presented with more positive messages throughout the study showed improved physical function, memory and self-perception (i.e. emotional well-being).

The “power of positive thinking” isn’t just an expression – it’s a prescription for health. Recognize the outdated stereotypes for the myths they truly are. Like many seniors today, take this opportunity in life to find your passion and apply the term “senior moment” to an achievement or activity that supports your overall well-being.

For example, volunteering not only gives you a sense of accomplishment but it also has been proven to improve overall well-being as we age. Establishing a strong social community and identifying your social role has also been shown to increase overall wellness. Surprisingly, 43 percent of adults report they feel lonely, yet only 18 percent live alone. Socializing could be as easy as joining a local club, like a Humana Guidance Center, which offers group activities like cooking classes or book clubs.

Most importantly, find a physical activity that gets you moving. Whatever you love – hiking, swimming, dancing, gardening – being active can reduce your risk of many health conditions including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Incorporating enjoyable activities into your day-to-day routine supports your emotional well-being in addition to your physical well-being.

Set the Trend

Aging is a fact of life, and some physical decline is unavoidable – however, simple changes of attitude, exercise and socializing can make all the difference in your quality of life.

Just like Tony and Bertha, find the path that best helps you achieve lifelong wellness, and share your inspirational story with family and friends. Together, we can shatter these stereotypes – one “senior moment” at a time.

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