Aging Gracefully
Studies indicate that our approach to the world makes a big difference in the quality of our lives. Negativity and anger lead to more of the same and can create sickness. On the other hand, those who approach their days with a positive attitude, feeling grateful for what they have, are much more likely to lead healthier and happier lives.

“When you adopt a positive attitude, you can reframe your outlook on your life,” says Stephanie Fitzsimmons EdD, MSN, RN, APRN–BC, Saint Peter’s University Hospital’s director of Adult Communities in the Monroe residential developments and the Saint Peter’s Adult Day Center, also located in the township. “After years of working with seniors, I have witnessed how personal outlook affects health.”
Dr. Fitzsimmons offers the following tips for cultivating a positive life.
  1. Step out and help out.  Many agencies that do great work are eager to take on more seasoned older helpers who have been around the block a time or two. That’s because you have valuable lessons to share. And you will feel good about yourself, too. Knowing that you are helping others can yield huge amounts of personal satisfaction.
  2. Do what you can to avoid stress. Stress can accelerate aging. It can trigger a fatal heart attack, drain one’s health, and generate age-related diseases. Yoga, walking, meditation, exercise, coloring - whatever the activity - find an enjoyable outlet to minimize stress.
  3. Connect with friends and family. Social networks are critical to staying vibrant.
    It is well-established that social connections lift the mood and help keep depression at bay.
  4. Eat well. Eat as close to a simple, fresh, natural diet as possible. That means fewer processed foods, i.e., those with ingredients that typically contain excess sugar, salt, and unnatural chemicals. Focus on making healthy food and beverage choices from all five food groups - fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy - to get the nutrients your body needs.
  5. Consider an individualized plan. Base your calorie intake on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity level. Building a healthier eating style can help you avoid becoming overweight and will help reduce risk of ailments such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A nutritionist can help you create a healthy eating plan.
  6. Get enough regular, moderate exercise. Your body was made to move, not sit all the time. Move it or lose it is an important anti-aging principle. Find an exercise that you enjoy and easily fits your schedule.  Get an exercise buddy. He or she can help motivate you.
  7. Reconnect to nature. Walk in the park or consider buying some seedlings and growing vegetables that you like at home.  Gardening brings joy, happiness, and provides clean fresh air and good food.  If it is difficult for you to get on the ground, plant seedlings in pots and place them on an outdoor table.

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