Positive Aging

Maintaining a positive outlook is important for your mental health regardless of your age, but as we get older, change and loss may challenge even the most optimistic individual. Understanding the changes in your body can help you know what to expect as you age. Understanding the changes in your mind may help you prevent depression and postpone some forms of cognitive impairment. Accepting change and reducing stress can keep you mentally healthy. 

Your local Council on Aging, Area Agency on Aging or in Massachusetts, Aging Service Access Points (ASAPs) can help you to find a number of volunteer opportunities. Helping others often improves our sense of well being. (Click here for more information on volunteering.) These agencies can also help you to find support groups, respite care for those caring for loved ones in their homes, social activities and housing options. The Protective Services/Elder at Risk Department at the Area Agency on Aging can assist those who feel they are at risk in the community, either due to their own circumstances or because others are infringing on your rights. 

Exercise is another way that may help to ward off signs of depression. The local YM/YWCA may offer many programs for seniors, as do many senior centers. A number of health clubs now offer special programs for older adults, that are designed for those who have mobility impairments due to arthritis or other diseases.

Playing cards, games and reading are excellent ways to exercise the mind. Find a new hobby or activity to learn. Mastering a new skill can raise your self-esteem. Listening to music can be soothing and a warm bath or foot soak can often rid you of tension, which may lead to more physical stress. Find your sense of humor. Laughter may very well be the best medicine.

Maintaining good relationships with family and friends is essential for better mental health. Stay in touch even if some of that is by telephone. Isolation can be very destructive. When you have a problem talk to a friend or relative. If this person is helpful to you, reward that friendship by listening to their problems later. See your minister, priest or rabbi for spiritual guidance. 

Some personalities become softer with age, while others may become more critical or domineering. If you find yourself feeling that others are trying to control you, practice ways to tell them your needs and wants. If you feel you are being very critical or angry with others, look inside your heart and find out what is really bothering you. Discuss this with family, friends or a counselor and try to "mend fences" quickly. Holding a grudge will only create more stress for you and your family. 

The Internet offers a wide variety of information and opportunity to learn and interact. Resources such as the National Institute on Mental Health can help with more specific diagnoses, but for many, using the Internet means finding and sharing information that will keep you mentally healthy. Sites such as the National Councils on Aging, National Institutes of Aging and the American Association of Retired Persons will offer information on topics such as transportation, finances, health insurance, etc. Use the web sites on this page to obtain more information.

For information on posiive aging from the Centers of Disease Control(CDC) click www.cdc.gov/aging

For publications from the CDC click www.cdc.gov/aging/publications

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The Aging Body

About Advanced Directives

Diet and Exercise

Elders and The Arts

Growing Old May Not Be So Bad

Memory Among Seniors Improved By Rote Learning

Normal Aging Among Cambodians

Religion Among Elders

Six Dimensions of Wellness

Sleep and Good Health


Stress and Our Adaptions