How to Age Gracefully | CBC Radio
How to Age Gracefully
Meryl Streep, Catherine Deneuve, George Clooney: when people think about aging gracefully, these elegant, mature celebrities often come to mind. Sure, they look amazing, but aging gracefully is about more than looks. It's about accepting the inevitability of getting older, taking care of your mind and body, and being your best self at any age.
Wear sunscreen.All the time. You've heard it so many times that it seems clichéd, but it's true: protecting your skin from the sun is absolutely essential to looking and feeling good as you get older. Studies have shown that roughly 90% of skin problems associated with aging (wrinkles, blotchiness, dryness, sagging) are cause by sun damage.Apply sunscreen every single day, even when it's overcast and cloudy.
- To maximize protection, look for broad spectrum, waterproof sunscreens with a minimum SPF 30.
- You can buy moisturizers or even makeup with SPF. Make sure it's broad spectrum and at least SPF 30.
- Find a cute, wide-brimmed hat to help shade your face from the sun.
- Prevention is key: it is much easier to take a few seconds every day and apply sunscreen than it is to try and undo a lifetime of skin damage when you're older.
Develop a skin-care regimen.Maintaining healthy skin well into old age requires more than just staying out of the sun. Moisturize your skin daily. Wash your face twice a day with warm water and a mild cleanser (soap can be harsh and dry out your skin).
- If you supplement your skin care ritual with anti-aging products, look for products created for your skin type (dry, oily, sensitive), that are hypoallergenic, and doesn't cause acne (non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic).
- Don't assume the most expensive product is also the most effective. There are plenty of affordable anti-aging products that work just as well or better than the ones that break the bank.
- Exfoliate twice a week to remove dead skin cells. Don't scrub your face when you do this--use a gentle, circular motion with your fingers.
- Use an eye cream or serum to tighten and de-puff the delicate skin around your eyes. Be careful not to pull on this skin--gently work it into your skin with the tips of your fingers.
- Don't forget the skin on your lips. Use a moisturizing lip balm with SPF.
- See a dermatologist for professional advice on how to best care for your skin.
Stop smoking.Smoking actually speeds up the aging process by depriving your skin of oxygen and essential vitamins which leads to premature wrinkles.It also damages collagen and elastin, causing your skin to sag.
- Smoking is linked to serious health problems that can shorten and impair your life, like heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
Plan for life after retirement.It is easy to let your work define you, but what happens when you finally retire? To prevent withdrawing and becoming depressed, inactive, and disconnected from others, think about meaningful ways to fill your golden years. You can focus on whatever passions and interests took a back-seat to your job.
- Consider traveling, spending time with family, developing your spiritual life, and discovering new interests that will keep you engaged and challenged.
Cultivate the Attitude
Embrace your age.Aging gracefully is not about trying to recapture your 20's or look like a teenager. People who age gracefully accept that the aging process is natural and normal. They take pride in the fact that they're survivors. They don't apologize for their age: they own it.
Stop stressing.Stress can make you look ten years older.Stress can impair your immune systemand lead to depression, anxiety, weight gain, heart disease, digestive problems, and more.Stress is also unavoidable. The key is to reduce stress where you can--like agonizing over the aging process--
- Holding on to hurt feelings and harboring grudges can be a major cause of stress, leading to emotional and physical problems. Work on practicing empathy and healing those old wounds so you can make the most of today.
- Meditation can greatly reduce stress and anxiety. Take a class or just practice breathing on your own to experience the benefits.
Be optimistic.Having a positive attitude is linked to longevity and better physical and mental health.Those who age with optimism (not getting angry or obsessing about the process, but accepting it as natural and fine) are less likely to need assisted living and can stay independent longer.
Maintaining a Healthy Body
Exercise moderately and consistently.Exercise is one of the most important factors in staying healthy as you age--both for your body and your mind. You don't have to run marathons or climb mountains--simply walking for 20-30 minutes a day can benefit your heart, help you lose weight, strengthen your bones, keep your mind sharp, prevent constipation, increase blood flow, and much more.
Eat a healthy diet that supports your goals and lifestyle.Look for diets that are low in sugar and rich in vitamins. As we age, our bodies can have trouble creating essential vitamins or we may begin needing more vitamins to maintain our health.
- Vitamin E is found in nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and vegetable oils. It repairs free radicals that damage your cells and can lower your risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Vitamin C repairs free radicals and increases Vitamin E production. It can also repair collagen and may reduce your odds of developing cancer, cataracts, and cardiovascular disease. Get your dose from citrus and potatoes.
- Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones and we need more as we get older. You can get Vitamin D from the sun, but if you need to stay in the shade, you can get it from milk and yogurt.
Turn off the TV.Studies have found that watching excessive amounts of TV can be just as harmful to your health as smoking or lack of exercise and can actually shave years off your life.
- You don't necessarily have to jump off the couch and onto the treadmill: simply going from inactive (sitting and watching TV) to slightly active (getting up off the couch and doing something else) can make a positive impact on your health.
Take care of your teeth.Neglecting your teeth and gums can have dire consequences. A receding gum line or dry mouth can increase chances of decay and infection, which can spread if untreated. Cavities and gum disease can even cause your teeth to fall out. Keep up with dentist appointments, and continue to floss and brush.
- False teeth should be cleaned and maintained with just as much care. Your mouth may change shape as you age, so be sure to have your dentures refitted if necessary.
Maintaining a Healthy Mind
Stay social.Not only will it help prevent isolation and depression, remaining social and engaging with others can actually keep your mind nimble.Keeping up with a conversation and formulating responses makes your brain work and keeps neural connections from weakening.
- It's not enough to just go to activities and events. Actively cultivate relationships new and old to reap the emotional and mental rewards.
Challenge your mind with novel experiences.The more you test and push the limits of your brain, the better it performs.A new experience in particular causes your brain to create new neural pathways and strengthen old connections. Without use, those pathways degenerate and connections are lost.
- Even slight changes--like taking a different route while driving, trying a new cooking technique with a favorite recipe, or using your less dominant hand to do something--can have a positive effect.
Get a good night's sleep.As people age, they can have more difficulty falling or staying asleep. Lack of or poor sleep can lead to depression and, difficulty making and recalling memories, and impair judgment .
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Looking your Best
Wear minimal make up.Though you may be feeling the pressure to hide your wrinkles under powder and foundation, these products will actually make lines more obvious.The idea isn't to disguise your age with tons of makeup and product, but rather to enhance your best features and minimize the less flattering. You should accept your wrinkles, but you don't have to highlight them.
- Instead of applying blush to the apples of the cheeks, apply to the highest point of your cheekbones and sweep up.
- Avoid using mascara or liner on your lower eyelid, as this can draw attention to crows feet and dark circles. Curling your lashes and wearing black mascara will make your eyes look larger and the whites whiter.
- Wear a lip liner to keep your lipstick in place. You can even find invisible liners that do the job without color, so you can use them with any shade of lipstick.
Don't go overboard with surgery.There's no shame in nipping and tucking, but part of aging gracefully is to embrace the aging process. If you opt for plastic surgery, don't try (or expect) to look like a 20-year-old. Talk to your surgeon about looking natural and enhancing your individual beauty and character.
Stay fabulous.Do you love your long hair? Keep it long. Do you think your gray hair looks amazing? Don't dye it. Prefer to be blonde? Then dye it! Stay true to who you are and the things that make you feel your best. Remember that getting older doesn't mean you can no longer be fashionable, have interests, be sexual, or experience new adventures. It doesn't mean you have to trade in your heels for fuzzy slippers--unless you want to!
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