Boomers have been accustomed through every stage of life to altering their take on society and its institutions. They have made learning the Periodic Table a fun song instead of the mind numbing rote; vibrant sock hops instead of the proper decorum of tea dances; and masters competitions an option to rocking chairs.
This generation has built expectations that they will also make changes to the aging process. It may come as a great surprise that, as Ira Gershwin wrote, “it ain’t necessarily so”. Medical interventions, joint replacement, stents, lasik eye surgery, calcium supplements and Grecian formula can decelerate the aging process, but only so far.
A good precaution is never wasted.
Tide and time waits for no Boomer, so the best way to prepare as you age is to be safe and healthy; making incremental adaptations starting with safety proofing the home to prevent falls and scalds, both of which can lead to hospitalization. Falls are particularly bad since they are the leading cause of mortality in older age. Hold down loose rugs with double-sided tape. Better yet roll them up out of the way. Keep stairways clear of clutter and well lit; kitchen and bathroom floors and counters clear and wipe up spills right away.
Prescriptions should be well marked in a safe place. Be up front with your pharmacist for possible conflicts or side effects of over-the-counter medicines you are using. Review nutritional intake and drink lots of water. Reduced hydration can affect medicine’s value. Have your eyesight and hearing tested regularly to see where you’re going and hear all the latest gossip.
De-stressing and social networks
Practicing self-care as discussed above and having a strong social network are two prime de-stressors. Limited socialization and restricted mobility often come along with aging – stressing, if not depressing. Friends, neighbours may move away for various reasons and that lifetime network that worked so well before may shrink. Keep socially active. If driving is restricted, ask friend or family for rides to social events. Grandchildren are always looking of opportunities to drive.
With Skype and other social media, keeping in touch with lifetime friendships is doable and good for morale. An important aspect of self-care is helping others. A good de-stressor for a friend living alone is to phone them to share the events of the day – and; nothing beats a good laugh for de-stressing.
Mary Ellen Tomlinson