Aging Well, Today and for the Future
Aging well is a big topic. It’s something we all strive for, which is likely why it’s inspired an entire wellness industry. At The Nathaniel Witherell, we’re blessed to count several centenarians among our residents. They’ve aged well, weathering many of life’s storms. But they also have something to teach us about longevity from their positive attitudes, connections to family and community, and lifelong attention to a healthy lifestyle.
Jane Brody, a New York Times columnist and past guest speaker at a Friends of Nathaniel Witherell luncheon, recently wrote an article, “How to Age Gracefully.” We’ve always appreciated Jane’s wry and intelligent take on aging. After turning 80, she was inspired to do a self-inventory to avoid missteps that might derail her path to aging gracefully. Her advice, simple and smart, inspired us to add to the “aging well canon.” Here we share what we’ve learned from our residents and from the Witherell’s experts who help our community thrive.
Our “Top 5” tips for aging well, today and for the future…
- Connect now. Don’t wait: Life is best when shared with others. Friends, neighbors, family, children, grandchildren, colleagues, parishioners, pets—seek out and nurture those connections. Our centenarians never sweat the small stuff, and neither should we.
- Find meaning: The benefits of volunteering are proven. One of the surest ways to minimize your own struggles is to help minimize the struggles of others. Researchers point to a “helpers high” that helps relieve depression and stress. Volunteering also helps people stay engaged and mentally alert. Many of the wonderful activities our Witherell residents enjoy are powered by volunteers. Find out more about volunteering at the Witherell here.
- Practice prevention: Many people delayed check-ups and health screenings during the pandemic. Others put off their flu shots and vaccines. Keep a diary, get screened and see your doctor annually to derail preventable diseases. Download the American Cancer Society’s guide to essential cancer screenings here.
- Be realistic: As Jane Brody notes, “The secret to successful aging is to recognize one’s issues and adapt accordingly.” While driving, climbing up ladders, or strenuous exercise might have been part of daily life in the past, it’s important to adapt to new routines as you age. Ask for a ride; hire a handyman; switch to low impact exercise. Those are some realistic steps to aging well.
- Eat less, move more: Do what you can now to build healthy bones and reduce disease risk through diet, exercise, and taking supplements, if needed. Our centenarians all eat several small meals a day, mostly what is now known as a “Mediterranean diet.” This includes lots of fish, vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, berries, olive oil, and lean protein. Some also enjoyed red wine on occasion, but in very small amounts.
The bottom line is that aging is inevitable, but aging well is not; it requires some thought and flexibility. As our residents prove every day, there is so much joy in being an older (and wiser) adult. So, let’s start today to age well tomorrow.