The month of September became known as Healthy Aging® Month over two decades ago, just as the baby boomer generation began turning fifty years old. Today, there are more than 76 million boomers over the age of fifty, and many of them are working in the healthcare industry. In fact, today's Registered Nurse averages over 45 years of age. This month’s health observance is designed to promote the positive aspects of growing older and also to inspire aging adults to focus on all aspects of their well-being.
The editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging® Magazine, Carolyn Worthington, shares the sentiment that it is never too late to reinvent yourself by exploring new hobbies, finding time to travel, and learning to take better care of yourself. As healthcare professionals, we should all place great stock in her advice because of the inherent challenges we face in our careers. Nurses are working long hours on their feet, facing stressful, life and death situations on a daily basis, and being asked to do more with less as the industry undergoes mandated legislative changes. Let’s look at ways we can use Healthy Aging® Month, and this year’s theme of “Reinventing Yourself,” to commit ourselves toward a positive approach to the aging process.
One of the most important steps to take a healthier approach to aging is to commit to being more positive in your actions, words, and deeds. Be aware of the negative triggers in your life and take steps to remove or avoid them. For example, if you find yourself getting aggravated over the nightly news reports, take a break from watching the newscast. Take a walk or go for a bike ride instead. If you have certain friends who are stuck in a negative frame of mind, limit your time with them. It may not be easy at first, but when you are surrounded by negative energy, your own positive energy is suppressed.
Another way to take control of the aging process is to stop acting your age! Think about what your favorite years in life were and make an effort to act more like you did then. Sound silly? Sure, but if you let yourself go and be silly once in a while, you are creating more positive energy and will feel better about yourself. The adage “Dance like no one is watching” rings truer than ever as you get older. Cast aside self-consciousness and doubt and have some fun.
To project health and confidence, stand up straight and walk with a purpose. This trick might sound ridiculous but take a look around you. Do you notice people slouching and shuffling along from place to place? You can take years off your appearance and increase your energy and self-image when you walk with your spine straight, your shoulders back and your head held high. If you have fallen out of practice, it may take some work to regain the posture of your youth, but well worth the effort. If you aren’t convinced, check yourself out in the mirror. Which looks better, the slouchy, shuffling you or straight purposeful you?
Nurses have to pay attention to keeping their credentials current, taking continuing education credits, and any other requirements for their particular specialty. However, as we age, it is important to balance the energy we place in learning work-related subjects by taking the time to learn something new. Have you always wanted to learn to paint? Alternatively, play the piano or some other musical instrument? Playing the tuba might be kind of cool. It doesn’t matter what you choose to learn, but the act of trying and learning new things is invigorating.
There are countless ways you can master the art of Healthy Aging, from eating healthier to exercising more, to volunteering at the local pet shelter. There isn’t a single, magic answer! This Healthy Aging® Month, make an effort to reinvent yourself, or even just part of yourself. No step is too small, and it all starts with taking the first one.
What are your tips for promoting healthy aging as an RN? Share your tips with your colleagues in the comment section below or join us on our Facebook page.