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Making Your Senior Years the Best Years of Your Life

As we think about the later year of our lives there seems to be two basic schools of thought on the subject: Those who refer and believe them to be the “Golden Years” and those who stress about their age and supposed decline in health and social life that accompanies it. Here’s a couple of questions for us to consider. First, look back on your life and think about which decade was your best. Is it possible that your senior years can be the best years of your life? Or have you already made up your mind that they will be the worst? Have you made a list of your top five goals  as you move into your senior years? For instance they might include financial security, good health, spending time with family or maybe more travel. It’s probably pretty easy to list more than five goals.

Ok, so you’ve written your list, set your goals. Now what? The surprising truth here is that the most successful seniors, in terms of lifestyle and health, are the ones who obsess about it the least. Those who spend time enjoying their retirement and doing what they’ve been looking forward to all these years don’t have time to worry about fulfilling their bucket list. The key is not to obsess about the list. The most fulfilled seniors just live their lives! Simple, right?

The Power of Positive Thinking

There is a lot to be said for and a lot of research to back up the power of positive thinking. Some agree wholeheartedly with the philosophy and others disregard the evidence. When it relates to aging, it all has to do with the attitude that you bring with you into your seniors years. If you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to embrace your future you will have a much more positive experience than someone who enters their 60’s or 70’s kicking and screaming. The latter group is adding so much stress by trying to look and stay young that they actually do themselves a disservice. While this group is fighting mother nature the more positive thinkers are out having fun and enjoying themselves which results in them actually feeling mentally and physically younger. Plus, you have to wonder how much the worry and stress is taking years off their lives.

What are your expectations as a senior?

Are you anticipating more illness, low energy levels, and a general decline during your older years? If that is what you’re expecting, it’s probably what will happen. This is not because the thoughts themselves have any power but instead because you send  signals to your mind and body that there will be no effort to stay fit and healthy. Because there is not effort made in those directions, poor health and low energy will result. This can be referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Seniors who think that they will do well, maintain an active lifestyle and enjoy good health will do just as good as they think they will. Their counterparts with a negative attitude seem to be able to think themselves into illness and old age.

Cause and effect play a huge roll in scheme of things, especially as we age. A common example is someone who is active, gets out more, takes on projects, spends time with others and refuses to let old age get to them are the ones who stay happy and healthy longer and have a better quality of life throughout their retirement years.

Do unto others…

Another paradox of the importance of attitude on the quality of life as a senior has to do with thinking of others more than themselves. Older adults who volunteer and are active in helping others appear to be happier and more successful member so the senior community. Simply put, those who worry about others instead of themselves, benefit the most personally. Conversely, seniors who only worry about themselves have the most to worry about.

So if negativity comes more naturally to you and you’re interested in changing that try seeking better companionship. The old saying, misery loves company, holds true here. To improve your mental attitude hang out with people who are happy and active.  It’s worth it to change your outlook on life after retirement. If your attitude says you will get the best from life as a senior, you will experience just that. In fact, your senior years may end up being the best years of your life!

By: Kristen Sheston

Kristen Sheston is the Assistant Manager at The Continental at St. Joseph’s, the leading assisted living community in southern Iowa, located in Centerville.

Visit the website: http://www.thecontinentalatstjosephs.com

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