Choices in Senior Care Blog

Don’t Just Age…Successfully Age!

Posted by Brook Dickerson on Aug 24, 2016 10:52:45 AM

Americans are living longer. In fact, the number of people in the 90+ age group has more than tripled over the last three decades according to the US Census Bureau This may be good news to many, but how are we aging? Are we only aging chronologically?  I don’t know about you, but I want to do more than merely live longer.  I want to age successfully in both body and mind.

Ann Bowling and Paul Dieppe asked the question: “What is successful aging?” in the British Medical Journal. They found that it was an ill-defined term, filled with personal bias. However, the ideal for “Successful Aging” included, but was not limited to, success in several of the following areas:

  • Life expectancy
  • Life satisfaction
  • Mental and psychological health, cognitive function
  • Personal growth, learning new things
  • Physical health and functioning, independent functioning
  • Social networks, support, participation, activity

They concluded that the achievement of successful aging needs to be viewed “as an ideal state to be aimed for, ….and the concept itself should be placed on a continuum of achievement rather than subject to simplistic normative assessments of success or failure”.  (Bowling & Dieppe, 2005)

The MacArthur Foundation funded a longitudinal study and published the results in the book Successful Aging in 1998. Findings of this study revolutionized the way researchers viewed aging, looking less at decline and more at the factors that contribute to successful aging. Many of their findings still hold true today. The authors, Rowe and Kahn, stated that part of successful aging involved engagement with life and maintaining high cognitive and physical functioning.  They found that the “successful agers” in their study participated in similar activities such as:

  • Participation in mental games and exercises for example: crossword puzzles and scrabble
  • Engagement in regular conversation
  • Visiting others and talking about current events regularly
  • Playing bridge, pinochle and other card games
  • Reading on a daily basis
  • Babysitting for grandchildren or other young children
  • Writing letters often
  • Volunteering weekly

 

This is certainly not an all-inclusive list, however, all of the above activities help encourage engagement with the world around you and help you achieve successful aging.

 

By Melanie Cahill, MS, CCC-SLP

Tags: aging, aging in place, General, communication, fun activities, health, independence, seniors, socialization

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