24 Jan What it means to be a healthy 80-years-old
Running an elder care company, I have often thought about how getting old is going to affect me. It is an occupational hazard, I guess.
The main thing that comes to my mind is whether I will be active or will I be home-bound? But then, there was a more fundamental question I had to answer. I wanted to know what it means to be active when I am 80.
These are my thoughts.
1. Engage in regular physical activity:
This includes being able to walk, climb stairs, and perform activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, and grooming. Regular physical activity can help to improve cardiovascular health, build muscle mass, and reduce the risk of falls. Studies have shown that older adults who engage in regular physical activity have a lower risk of disability and a better quality of life. For example, I should be able to do a mean cha-cha-cha on the dance floor. Can I do it now? Nah! Just because I haven’t taken dance lessons yet.
2. Maintain my independence:
I should be able to live independently, with the ability to manage my own medications and make my own decisions. Independence is an important aspect of aging, and older adults who maintain their independence have been shown to have a better quality of life. For example, I should be able to change my own oil in my car. (But…what if my car is electric? Hmmm…)
3. Engage in social activities:
I should be able to maintain social connections with family and friends and participate in activities that I enjoy. Social engagement and social support can help to improve mental health and reduce the risk of depression and cognitive decline. For example, I should have a standing date with my grandkids for video games.
4. Manage my chronic health conditions:
Many older adults have chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or arthritis. I should be able to manage these conditions with the help of my healthcare provider. Early detection and management of chronic conditions can help to prevent complications and improve health outcomes. For example, I should have hypertension and be able to manage it with medications and lifestyle changes, and still indulge in a piece of chocolate cake or a lemon tart now and then.
5. Have a positive outlook:
I should have a positive outlook on life, and be able to cope with the challenges of aging in a healthy and adaptive way. Positive outlook has been shown to be a protective factor against disability and depression in older adults. For example, I should still find humor in daily life, especially when the neighbor’s dog uses my flowerbed as a litter box.
6. Be able to communicate effectively:
I should be able to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally, and have the ability to express my needs and understand others. Effective communication is important for maintaining social connections and receiving healthcare. As long as my cat understands when to give me privacy or not chew out my favorite bag, I should be good.
7. Financial Capability:
I should be able to manage my finances, pay bills, and make informed decisions about my money. Financial capability is an important aspect of maintaining independence and reducing the risk of financial exploitation. For example, I should be able to budget, save, and make wise investments, and still have enough money to treat myself to a fancy cup of coffee once in a while.
It is important to note that everyone ages differently and that some older adults may have more limitations than others. However, with proper care, support, and access to healthcare, many older adults can continue to live active and healthy lives. I hope to do these and more… Maybe I should add another bullet point to the list above… like a trip up Machu Pichu or a walk through the lanes of Florence.