Psychological Services

Dementia and Aging: Tips for Aging Gracefully

Aging gracefully depends upon how well you have taken care of yourself physically and mentally throughout your life.

  • Did you treat your body like a machine that you expected would keep going no matter what?
  • Have you been happy through your life?
  • Do you look for the worst case scenario?
  • Do you think everything will work out somehow?
  • Do you spend time making sure you have the right foods and practice good nutrition?
  • Do you practice good sleep hygiene?
  • Do you avoid addictive and health-threatening habits?
  • Are you in contact with toxic substances?
  • Do you see yourself in control or the world controls you?

So what does it take to really age gracefully? It takes belief and will; the determination to keep on going, to not give up and to live life to the fullest. It is also important to diagnose memory problems early as is true of any illness. It is commonly known that the following groups are more susceptible to aging difficulties or less than graceful aging:

  • Divorced men and women
  • Men and women without children
  • Individuals with a tendency toward negative thinking
  • Men who have lost a spouse
  • People who are continually stressed and do not take precautions

Symptoms of Stress:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Too much to do and no time to do it
  • Increased distractibility
  • No energy

The Secret to Graceful Aging: Keeping Your Brain Alive and Well

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase exercise
  • Increase social activities and participate in group activities
  • Operate under the belief that things always work out the way they are supposed to
  • Share lots of love and happiness on a daily basis
  • Eat healthy
  • Use vitamins and medicines wisely (have medications analyzed for interactions)
  • Brain training, stretching your brain on a daily basis

Tips for caregivers of loved ones who are terminally ill:

  • Plan your days: one day for shopping, errands, doctor appointments
  • Use structure and routine
  • Take time for social activities
  • Laugh several times a day, find something funny
  • Keep your surroundings pleasant: bright colors, sunny, and airy
  • Avoid arguments, agree to disagree
  • Avoid choices if your loved one cannot make decisions
  • Re-direct conversation if your loved one becomes agitated
  • Be flexible because your loved one is not.
  • Learn to disregard comments that are made, understand that things are said and not meant.
  • Make sure that you maintain your own care- do not give or offer to do something that you truly cannot afford
  • Make doctor appointments for yourself
  • Make it a point to preserve the image of your parent or loved one in your mind
  • Develop your own growth as you emerge from being a child to the caretaker of your parent or loved one
  • Avoid becoming over-burdened by tasks that you find distasteful such as baths or cleaning wounds

Good Sleep Habits

  • Regular relaxing routine to unwind at night
  • Take a walk at dusk to stay up later if you fall asleep too early
  • Try not to watch the clock if you wake up at night
  • Don’t stay in bed if you cannot fall back asleep
  • Avoid all products containing caffeine later in the day and evening.
  • Avoid smoking and smokeless tobacco
  • Avoid use of alcohol
  • Establish regular exercise, sleep and diet routine
  • Avoid long naps—limit your naps to 30 minutes or so

For more information: See the article on Non-medical Treatment of Adult Sleep Disorders on this website

Aging Facts:

  • Reading rate does not change during aging process
  • Memory does not decline until the late 80’s or 90’s in the normal aging process.

Nutrition

  • Eat properly and don’t skip meals

Cognitive Therapies: Keep Your Brain Alive with Use.
IM Training and Brain Training

  • Improved memory, use of memory strategies
  • Increased focus and attention to task.
  • Motivation increased.
  • Improved self-esteem.
  • Decreased anger.
  • Calmer disposition.
  • Decreased symptoms of depression.
  • Increased sense of well-being.
  • Increased overall arousal and alertness—more energy.

Take Home Message

The goal is to age as gracefully as you can, to enjoy life, be loving and happy. Essentially, to have coherence and contentment in your life every day.