There’s no great secret to aging wisely. However, many people continue to make simple aging mistakes that prevent them from aging wisely. We’ll let you in on how to avoid these mistakes so you can keep living life the kind of life you want.
You may want to take our Aging Wisely quiz to get a quick check up on how you’re doing: Click Here. Bonus: you’ll get our FREE comprehensive checklist to keep you on track through different stages of life.
Failure to plan = planning to fail
Of course, you can’t control everything. But, there are a lot of things you have control over. Without planning, you give up that control. You limit your choices. Others may step in to make decisions you don’t like. You might find yourself caught in an unnecessary legal battle or guardianship process. Your lack of financial/insurance planning might leave you with unattractive options.
How to avoid this mistake:
- Execute advance care planning and estate/financial legal documents.
- Think through your wishes, and talk to your loved ones. Click on the advance care planning link above for conversation starters. Or, set up a care management consultation for help.
- Examine your finances and insurance portfolio.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to seek help.
- Seek an expert when it comes time to make decisions or you’re caught in a crisis.
Being passive about your health
Most of us could do more to be healthy. We encourage everyone to take some “lessons from the blue zones” for a healthy, happy lifestyle. Whatever our current state of health, we can take simple steps to be an active participant in our health(care).
Do you want to enjoy aging and stay independent as long as possible? Then, stop making these simple mistakes. All too commonly, people wait for illness to visit the doctor. A lot of damage is done when the red flag goes up. You can benefit from early intervention with health screenings.
Next, many of us become tongue-tied around the doctor. Suddenly we find ourselves getting tests and treatment we're not sure about. Polypharmacy (taking multiple medications to manage various conditions) creates problems for many seniors. About 50% of people older than age 65 take five or MORE medications per week. About 12% take 10 or more medications per week.
And, finally, our ideas about staying independent may push us towards dependence. Getting a little help at home keeps things manageable. Staying safe and healthy means you have control over your life. Don't let your latter years be driven by crisis.
Avoiding this aging mistake:
- Schedule your yearly wellness visit. Check that you're getting recommended health screenings. The great news is Medicare covers preventative care (open the link for a list of screenings and how often they are covered).
- Use our tips to improve patient-doctor communication.
- Get help from a patient advocate.
- Talk to EasyLiving or a local home care company about household help.
Think old, act old, be old
Just take a look at these amazingly fit aging inspirations. They, along with many artists, business leaders, politicians, writers, and more, prove that late life can be a time of growth and productivity.
Yet, about ¼ of people say they’re happy being sedentary. If you’re tempted to spend most of your time in front of the TV, be aware of the consequences. Staying active, physically and mentally, keeps our brains healthy. Older adults who had medium-high levels of engagement developed cognitive and physical limitations more slowly than did those with low, declining levels of engagement. In other words, thinking and acting old will MAKE YOU OLD.
Additionally, too many elders become “trapped” in their homes. Getting out is difficult; they fear asking for help. They don’t want to leave home, but home becomes like a prison. Social isolation has devastating effects. The challenges that caused the isolation only become worse. Isolation is linked to cognitive decline, poor mental and physical health and even death.
Aging wisely solutions:
- Find ways to keep doing your favorite activities. Our senior concierge team can help arrange outings and in-home activities. We can offer ways to modify activities to fit your situation.
- Keep moving. We highly recommend our friends from At-Home Fitness for age-friendly personal training. Check out the huge variety of fun (and free/cheap) fitness ideas you can try.
- Engage. Volunteer, take a class, learn something new. DON’T just sit in front of the TV. There are many more active (and fun) things you can do, no matter what your limitations.
- Get out of the house. We can help. Contact us about Senior Concierge and Transportation services.
For more ideas, check out our resources for social engagement.
Saving for a “rainy day” in the midst of a storm
Some people avoid mistake #1 and do a great job saving for the future. But, when the future arrives they hesitate to spend money on themselves. We’ve had many conversations with 90+ year old clients/families where the client is terrified to spend any money on needed services. Their great savings habits are hard to break when it’s (beyond) time to spend the money.
Tips for avoiding this mistake:
- Sit down with an objective professional. Our care managers can work out budgets for different choices so you clearly see the costs. We can find you ways to get the most “bang for your buck” and connect you with financial assistance. Your financial advisor can help you work out what you can safely spend.
- Think long term. Spending a little bit on services today can often save you big future costs. A care manager can help you prioritize and analyze cost-effective options.
- Have honest conversations with your adult children. Our society often considers it impolite to talk about money. Unfortunately, this is harmful. Your children may be completely in the dark about how they can help you or what you can afford. You might be holding yourself back with assumptions. For example, you might be worried about preserving the kids’ inheritance. Meanwhile, the kids might just want you to spend the money to take care of yourself.