staying healthy

According to the 2014 United States Census, more than a quarter of adults over 65 — 11 million people — live alone. Social isolation is considered a risk factor for illness and even death in older adults. Staying socially connected, physically active, and mentally engaged helps people stay positive as they age. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that active adults are less likely to develop dementia and more likely to: live longer, be happier, have better coping skills and thinking abilities.

Many retired adults stay connected by volunteering, joining clubs or groups, visiting family and friends, attending religious services or activities, or moving to a retirement community. Ann Pore, a 74-year old resident of Friedrichs, an independent living community at Wartburg in Mt. Vernon, loves living in such an active environment. She believes that it is important to “live around people with a sense of community who interact with one another.”

Pore thinks that, as you age, “the social aspect is key…it is important to stay connected to friends and family and to reach out to people.” She likes to be around people who keep up with what is going on in the world and in her community. She also enjoys spending time with younger people who often have different interests and viewpoints. Pore states, “I try to surround myself with people who are positive thinkers.”

Staying physically active is an essential way for a person to stay positive as they age. Going to medical appointments, doing health screenings, managing chronic health issues, and getting enough sleep are vital. In addition to improving one’s mood, being physically active can give a person more strength, balance, and energy.

Nellie Williams, another resident of Friedrichs, thinks that staying active is important as a person ages. “As you grow older, it’s more of a challenge to stay busy. Sometimes you get up and you have your aches and your pains but if you don’t [stay busy], you are going to be in trouble — because the less active you are [now], the less active you are going to be.”

Eating well and exercising are also key components to being healthy and positive. Pore states what numerous studies on exercise suggest: “Exercise is good mentally and physically.” Pore likes to walk around the extensive Wartburg campus. She also enjoys exercise classes, yoga classes, and visiting the gym.

According to the NIA, being intellectually engaged may help keep a person’s brain healthy. Working, volunteering, reading books, and participating in new activities may stimulate the brain and improve a person’s cognitive ability. These activities may even prevent dementia.

Pore works part-time at the Westchester County Center as well as for the Westchester Parks system during the summer months. The time she spends working keeps her mind engaged and helps her stay socially connected. She likes to attend lectures, music concerts and visit places she hasn’t been before. She shares that, “New experiences are very important to keep your mind stimulated.”

Susie Aybar

Susie Aybar

Susie Aybar, BSN, MFA, is a writer based in Westchester County. A published poet, Susie facilitates a “Healing Through Writing” class for people who are affected by cancer at Gilda’s Club in White Plains.
Susie Aybar

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