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Technology use by seniors has been increasing by the year. Although mobile devices may not be as ubiquitous among older adults as they are among other demographics, the Pew Research Center found that more than 40% of seniors report owning a smartphone and 32% own tablets. Seniors were slower to adopt the internet, but now 67% of older adults go online every day.

Seniors are joining social media, too. Over 30% of older adults have profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and that number is only growing. According to some estimates, as many as 50 million seniors will adopt a social media platform by 2020.

It’s not hyperbolic to say that social media has rewired the way society functions and the way we connect with other people. It can be just as transformative for seniors. Considering that social isolation is linked to shorter lifespan and increased risk for chronic disease, social media use can be as beneficial for seniors’ physical health as it is for their emotional well-being.

The benefits of joining at least one social media platform include:

  • Increased connection with family and friends — It can be difficult to stay in touch with family members and close friends who live out of state, or even a few hours away. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram not only allow seniors to exchange messages with loved ones, but to stay in the loop with daily photos and status updates.
  • Reconnecting with old friends — It’s natural to fall out of touch with certain friends over the decades, as jobs, family, and life takes people in different directions. But there’s nothing like the joy of reconnecting with an old friend after years apart. Seniors can rediscover lost friends by searching for other people who graduated in their year, lived in their town, or worked at the same company.
  • Participating in community events — Many social and volunteer groups use platforms like Facebook to make announcements and organize events. Being active on these platforms can help seniors stay involved in community activities, like a book club, bible study, or volunteering opportunities. Discover other ways seniors can get involved in the community.
  • Staying informed about current events — People are increasingly relying on social media platforms to get their news. Scrolling through your newsfeed, you’ll encounter headlines for the major news events of the day, both in your local community and around the world. Using social media can help seniors stay informed about current events without reading the paper every morning.

Does the senior in your life have a social media account? If not, consider sitting down together to set one up. Help them upload a photo, fill out their profile, and get started by connecting with their closest friends and family members. Pretty soon they’ll be using the platform like a pro—and enjoying the many benefits that come with it.

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The later decades of your life can be among the most rewarding. You have more free time to devote to hobbies and people that make you happiest. You may be blessed with the joys of becoming a grandparent. You have more wisdom, patience, and confidence than you did when you were younger. And you have the perspective to know not to take any of it for granted.

It’s important to keep your body and mind healthy to enjoy these years to their fullest. The key to healthy aging is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are five essential science-backed elements to living a healthy lifestyle at any that any age, which continue to serve as a strong foundation for health and daily well-being as we age.

The 5 essential elements of healthy aging are:

  • Diet
    Many Americans consume far more sodium, sugar, and fat than they should, but following a healthy diet can become even more challenging as we age. Make sure your diet is largely composed of whole foods, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and good sources of protein. If cooking for yourself becomes an obstacle, take advantage of your senior living community’s dining room. The menus are created according to nutritional guidelines and will help you maintain a balanced diet.

 

  • Exercise
    Regular exercise is one of the most important elements of physical and mental well-being at any age. And contrary to popular assumption, it only becomes more important as we get older. Maintaining your physical fitness will help you retain independence, prevent injury, and can provide relief from chronic illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes.If you don’t already have a fitness regimen, read our tips for how to start an exercise routine after age 60.

 

  • Relationships
    Loneliness is among the biggest dangers to your health — especially later in life. Social isolation increases risk for depression, anxiety, dementia, and even early mortality. Maintaining an active social life can certainly become more challenging as we age, but that just means it’s even more important to make this area of your life a priority. Set up weekly calls or visits with family members, go on walks or get meals with friends, and find ways to get involved in your community.

 

  • Mental Stimulation
    Some people assume that cognitive decline is a natural byproduct of aging, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Practicing good habits for your cognitive health can prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia, improve memory, and minimize those pesky “senior moments.” The good news is that following the other four essential habits of healthy aging will naturally support brain health. In addition, find ways to keep your brain active every day. Try new things, learn a new skill, read books, play games, and engage in meaningful activities like volunteering.

 

  • Sleep
    Yes, sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle! Sleep is restorative; while you’re catching Z’s, your body repairs any cellular damage that occurred during the day and reboots your immune system. A good night’s sleep also supports memory, mood, and concentration. Older adults who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to depression, memory loss, nighttime falls, and infection.Insomnia becomes more common as we age. To make sure you’re getting good quality sleep, build a healthy sleep routine and stick to it. Go to bed at the same time every day, keep your bedroom as dark as possible, and avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.

 

If you’re struggling with any of these five elements of healthy aging, ask for help. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your health, reach out to the staff in your community, or confide in a trusted friend or family member. The most important thing to remember about aging is that none of us should do it alone. Take advantage of the support systems around you and ask for help when you need it.

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Seniors often find it harder to tolerate hot temperatures or long hours in the sun. That’s because our body’s ability to regulate temperature declines as we age, making us more prone to dehydration and heat stroke. Following sun safety tips will help prevent the ill-effects of sun exposure. But when you’re planning to spend time outside with an older adult during the summer, you should also look for outdoor activities that limit direct exposure to the sun.

Try these ideas for outdoor summer activities that are enjoyable and safe for everyone:

Fishing – The best hours for fishing are first thing in the morning—conveniently also the coolest time of the day, before the sun is high in the sky. Set up a couple chairs on the dock and spend the early morning hours casting lines and sharing conversation. Fishing is also a summer activity that can be shared across generations, with seniors, their children, and their grandkids alike.

Gardening – Not only is gardening a low-impact way to move your body and spend time outside, it also has countless benefits for your body, mind, and soul. Gardening a few times per week reduces risk for numerous health conditions, reduces stress and elevates mood, improves balance, and supports a good night’s sleep.

Farmer’s Market – Filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, farmer’s markets are an ideal summer outing for seniors. Many markets set up stalls with tents and awnings, which help to limit sun exposure. Head out in the morning before temperatures reach their peak, and spend a couple hours walking around and browsing for the ripest finds.

Golfing – While some seniors remain active well into their 80s, most would benefit from taking a more low-impact approach to exercise. Playing a round of golf in the evening is a great way to engage in mild physical activity without pushing the limits. Because the game moves at a slower pace, it’s also a good opportunity for socializing.

Attend Community Events – Whether it’s the local fireworks show on the Fourth of July, movies outdoors in the park, or a family barbecue, attending community events is a great way for seniors to spend time outside while retaining close social ties. Feeling engaged in a community is essential for mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing for seniors.

It doesn’t matter if it’s family, friends, or a senior living community (or ideally, all three!), it’s important to stay connected. That’s why it’s so beneficial for seniors to get out of the house and not spend the whole summer cooped up inside avoiding the heat. Talk to your loved one about which outdoor summer activities they want to do and make plans for when you’ll get together to do them.

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Cultural stereotypes tend to paint aging in a negative light. “Senior moments” of forgetfulness, fumbling with new technology, and mishearing things are all familiar hallmarks of aging—at least as it’s portrayed in the media. Not only are such stereotypes patently untrue (according to data from Pew Research Center, 46% of seniors over 65 own a smartphone!), they also ignore the many benefits that come as a byproduct of collecting decades.

Recognizing the happy side-effects of growing older can help you embrace and lean into the aging process rather than fighting it. If you struggle with accepting “your number,” the following benefits of aging might help you shift your perspective.

Upsides of Aging That Make Growing Older a Privilege

Wisdom and Perspective

One of the few positive aging stereotypes is the elderly person who doesn’t suffer fools or foolishness—and isn’t quiet about it. By the time you reach a certain age, you’ve experienced enough and witnessed enough to know the difference between what matters and what doesn’t. That perspective frees you up to stop sweating the small stuff and instead devote your energy to the things that are most important to you.

Free Time

For decades, your life is full of work schedules, school schedules, after-school schedules, and social events. By the time you retire, your kids are out of the house and (hopefully) taking care of themselves. So when you remove work obligations, suddenly the only demands on your time are… whatever you want! This abundance of free time can be overwhelming at first, but it’s an amazing privilege. Use your newfound free time to go back to school, start an exercise routine (you’re never too old!), or pick up a new hobby.

Grandchildren

With grandchildren comes all the fun of parenting without the any of the downsides. You probably don’t miss disciplining your kids or arguing about bath time, but you might trade anything for one more chance to snuggle your now fully-grown children in your lap while reading them a bedtime story. Being a grandparent lets you revisit the joys of having kids—and the fun doesn’t stop when your grandkids start growing up.

To Live Longer, Embrace the Aging Process

Maintaining a positive outlook on aging isn’t just fluff. It can actually help you live longer. In a 2001 study, researchers from Yale and Harvard followed 660 participants between ages 50 and 80 for over 22 years to observe how self-perceptions of aging correlated with longevity. The participants who had a more positive attitude about the aging process lived, on average, 7.5 years longer. So figure out what “senior moments” make your life better and celebrate them every day.

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