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Elements of healthy aging

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Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

What is the secret to successful aging? Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with your income, being free from illness or a life free from disappointments. Living a healthy lifestyle, but also maintaining a positive attitude and friendships are just a few ways to age well.

September is Healthy Aging Month! The aim is to help people have a more positive outlook about growing older. David Bowie once said, “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.” So don’t let the negative perceptions and stereotypes of aging control how to live your life!

What can we do to ensure we age successfully? I’ll outline six key elements of aging well, whether you’re 16 or 65.

  • Find purpose. As we pursue our passions, we feel relaxed, at ease, and motivated. Our passions may change throughout life but it’s important to engage with them on a regular basis. Think about what gets you up in the morning and excites you? How often do you engage in your passions? Is it once a week or only once a year? Volunteering is a great way to build purpose and brings with it a sense of fulfillment. Reflect on your skills for ideas about what you might offer to others.
  • Be social. Research indicates our social connections have a powerful effect on our health, both physically and mentally. Whether in-person, online, or with a pen and paper, look for ways to connect with those important people in your life. Remember to reach out to those who cannot get out as much.  
  • Stay positive. It’s easy to fall into a negative spiral of emotions and self-doubt but that won’t help you achieve your purpose. To boost your mood and outlook on life try surrounding yourself with positive people, practicing positive affirmations each morning, and writing in a gratitude journal at night. Staying optimistic is shown to boost creativity, resilience and over-all wellbeing. A key to staying positive is to live gratefully each unrepeatable day.
  • Eat well. The foods you choose and eat often can help predict health later in life. It’s never too late to make changes to your eating pattern! Fill up on foods that fuel your body and mind such as fatty fish, plant proteins, whole grains, and of course, fruits and vegetables.
  • Be active. As we age, we begin to lose muscle and bone mass. Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility. Weak bones can lead to fractures. Maintain your muscle and bone mass by staying active and adding resistance exercises to your weekly routine. Daily walks, gardening, and basic household chores can all count toward your physical activity goals. Start small and choose activities you enjoy for long-term success.
  • Challenge yourself. In addition to physical exercise, think of ways you can workout your brain. Challenging your brain with new, interesting and increasingly difficult tasks helps maintain memory and cognitive function as we age. Why not take up a new hobby or challenge yourself and some friends to a new card game or escape room?

The key to aging successfully is all about remaining vital, not about staying young. There are many ways we can add quality to our years and make the most of the precious time we have. For more ideas on positive aging and activities you can do at home, visit wvik.org/wellness.
Thank you for listening! This has been Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition & wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Wellness Wake Up Call is produced by WVIK in partnership with University of Illinois Extension, and sponsored by The Planning Center in Moline, assisting men and women with financial wellness and preparation for life's transitions, including retirement planning, college savings, marital changes, and estate planning.

Additional Resources:

  • University of Illinois Extension, Discover Healthy Aging series
    • I’s Positive, I’m Aging
    • Looking for the Funny Side of Life
    • Finding Your Get Up and Go
    • Someday is Today – Live Your Bucket List
  • National Institutes of Health, Social Wellness Checklist

More Baby Boomers have retired since COVID-19 began than before | Pew Research Center

Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.