The golden years, we all picture it, a time of relaxation, deep connection, and engagement with our interests. Though this vision is different for each of us, there are universal components that we can all value and strive for. The thing is, when we picture our golden years, we often imagine good health, spiritual connection, being a part of a community, and having sharp cognitive abilities. These four components are the pillars that make up successful aging, a process of growing older while retaining our health, sense of community, cognitive functioning, and spiritual connection.
These pillars of health can be broken down and defined as social, spiritual, physical and intellectual. Let’s explore each and see what it takes to meet the mark.
Throughout our life we spend time engaging with others in our community, our work, and our family. Whether an introvert or an extrovert, humans are social beings, and as such thrive when offered social interaction. The damaging effects of isolation can be seen in the uptick of a mental health crisis during and after the pandemic where socializing came to a halt.
As we age and step away from work and other roles, it is important to continue socializing and engaging in a community. Though investing in relationships can be difficult at times the benefits of maintaining friendships as you age are certainly worth it. In fact social health directly ties into the physical and intellectual pillars as it can reduce stress and boost your mental health.
It should be said that all the pillars have a similar symbiotic relationship. This is why it is important to focus on all four.
Our physical well-being can be measured in many different ways and certainly does not look the same for everyone. A great way of viewing physical health is maintaining your current abilities for as long as you can, adapting as limitations arise, but always striving to do what is possible. With this in mind, being active in whatever capacity is right for you will always go a long way. For some, doing an exercise routine as a group or individually will reap great benefits and also offer the opportunity for social interaction. For others, functional fitness based around daily living will help with maintaining daily functional ability.
No matter the type of exercise, being active as often as possible, and staying consistent is crucial to bolstering physical health.
Spirituality has a different meaning for everyone. In the context of health, we can define spirituality as having a sense of purpose, being present, and striving to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. There are many ways to hit these marks including volunteering, teaching, and social activism, as well as faith-based practices. No matter the outlet, it is the pursuit and willingness to take time to focus on self-awareness that improves a sense of spirituality.
Learn how to cultivate your purpose with a spiritual approach.
Similar to physical health, our goal with intellectual health is to retain our current cognitive ability for as long as possible, shifting expectations with time, but always pursuing our best. In order to achieve this, we need to challenge our brains. This can be through puzzles and games like mind teasers and crossword puzzles, thought provoking conversation, reading, and much more. With reading in mind, joining a book club can come with the added bonus of socializing, another key facet to retaining cognitive ability.
In the realm of cognitive health, many seniors worry about memory. Much like exercise, our memory needs to be worked on a semi-consistent basis to be at tip-top shape. This means taking in information through conversation, reading, and other mediums and then practicing recall, writing down notes, or providing follow-up questions in social encounters. Getting adequate rest and practicing a healthy diet are also important as is striving to learn new topics and ideas. Read our blog about 8 Daily Activities To Help Boost Your Memory for more ideas.
A Balancing Act
As we have reviewed the four pillars of health, we have often mentioned how they are intertwined. Though our focus might not always be on each, it is important to recognize the value of all the pillars, striving to maintain them all for a well-balanced life.
For those wishing to age in place, having a strong foundation of health is important though there are other considerations such as long-term care insurance, financial planning, and transportation. Blakeford Senior Living, through the LiveWell program offers a revolutionary suite of benefits expertly managed and personally delivered to your home, so you can still live at home. Our progressive and highly personalized plan is designed for healthy and independent adults who are 60 and older. To learn more, visit our LiveWell page, or contact a senior living expert.