Boston Magazine’s 2019 Guide to Aging Well
Long gone are the days when we worked one job for 40 years, cashed a pension check each month and lived out the rest of our days puttering around the house or garden. The 50s and 60s are the new 40s, and today’s active seniors and soon-to-be-seniors are traveling the world, discovering new hobbies, and living healthier lives that will allow them to thrive well into old age. Read on for some tips and resources to help you enjoy this period of your life while setting yourself up for success in the next stage.
Don’t Let Your Fitness Hibernate This Winter
Tips and tricks for staying active—no matter how cold it is.
When Boston’s winter freeze sets in, it can be tempting to steep yourself in hygge. While we’re all for the books, candles, and cozy nights in, don’t let your health take the backseat. Here are a few easy and fun ways to stay active throughout the cold winter months. Your body will thank you come spring.
Build in Active Play
When even just walking to grab
lunch seems treacherous against Massachusetts’s winter gusts, it’s easy to spend much of the day sedentary, even if you’re hitting the gym for an hour. Try swapping your everyday activities for something more active. Instead of shopping online, head to the mall. Forgo the movies in favor of a visit to the bowling alley or indoor roller rink. And cook dinner at home instead of eating out. The goal is just to get on your feet and moving.
Embrace the Season
Snow offers a whole host of fun activities, whether it’s sledding with the grandkids, taking up snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or taking a scenic hike. Even shoveling your snow gets the heart rate up. Just make sure to layer up properly—start with a moisture- wicking top and layer on fleece and a waterproof coat to stay cozy and dry— and head inside if you start shivering.
Get Your Class On
There are a huge range of boutique fitness classes available in the Boston area. Try out the classics—spinning, bootcamp, yoga—but don’t be afraid to branch out and do something new. Channel your inner ballerina at Barre Groove, get your boxing on at EverybodyFights, or fall in love with running again at Heartbreak Hill Running Company.
The home gym doesn’t need to entail a dedicated room filled with a gym’s worth of exercise equipment. Grab a yoga mat and some hand weights and stay active in your living room. If you’re short on time, try a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout, which is usually over in 15–20 minutes. If you have more time to spare, YouTube offers a host of free workout videos that run the gamut.
Get a Hobby and Live a Happier, Healthier Life
Reinvent yourself in the empty nest years and reap the benefits.
Ahhhh, the empty nest. After decades of juggling work and family, most people imagine a life filled with date nights carefree weekends. For some people, however, the empty nest may not be all they had envisioned. The sudden change in routine and responsibility can leave them questioning their purpose in life or feeling as if they have lost their identity. That makes this stage the perfect time to pick up a new activity or delve deeper into an old passion that’s fallen by the wayside. You may even find some benefits you didn’t expect.
Hobbies Keep You Active
Countless studies have proven that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health, so why not try a sport you’ve always been interested in but didn’t have time to pursue—like golf, tennis
or swimming? If you’re not the athletic type, take up a hobby such as gardening, cooking or photography.
Hobbies Keep Your Mind Sharp
Learning a new skill has been shown to stimulate neurons in the brain, help stave off dementia, and even increase your speed of learning. You might consider learning a new language, taking a technology class, or joining a book club to help keep your mind sharp.
Hobbies Keep You Connected
When you have young children, your social circle is often determined by them and their activities. Once that anchor is gone, it’s important to make new connections. Whether you are volunteering at an animal shelter or playing a round of golf with friends, the social connections will benefit your physical and mental health.
Hobbies Reduce Stress
Hobbies are activities that are meant to be enjoyable and some of them are especially good at reducing stress. Yoga, dancing, reading, knitting, writing, gardening, and hiking have all been scientifically proven to increase relaxation and reduce stress levels.
Dance to Keep Your Brain Sharp
Anyone who enjoys dancing knows that it’s good exercise, but did you know it can also be good for your brain? In a study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, learning and remembering dance steps was found to stimulate a key area of the brain and slow down its natural aging process.
There’s more good news. Dancing also enhances areas of the brain responsible for improving balance, and has been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia, even more so than swimming, biking, reading or playing board games.
So put on those dancing shoes and dust off your best moves to keep your body and mind healthy in your golden years.
Kick-Start Your Morning
We all know good health starts with good nutrition, but even when you have the best of intentions to make a balanced breakfast, life happens. Both your parents and your kids need your help. Work responsibilities beckon. And breakfast becomes a pastry grabbed on the way into the office. One quick and filling solution: this fruit- and veggie-laden smoothie.
1 Frozen Banana
1⁄2–1C Additional Frozen Fruit
Mix it up! We love pineapple, mango, or blueberries.
1⁄2 C Chopped, Frozen Zucchini
It adds a rich, creamy texture and promotes healthy bone tissue.
1 C Spinach or Another Leafy Green
Heartier greens like kale and chard will add a “greener” taste, while spinach will taste more mild.
1 TSP Chia Seeds
3 tablespoons of chia seeds offer more calcium than a glass of milk, so don’t shy away from adding extra!
Dairy, almond, or soy are all good choices.
Directions: Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
Don’t Let Joint Pain Slow You Down
From exercise to surgery, finding relief from chronic pain.
Snap! Crackle! Pop! As you age, it’s common to hear these sounds emanating from your knees, hips, and shoulders. In some cases, the sounds go hand in hand with pain and stiffness that signifies a worn-out joint. For athletes, joint pain often starts in the 40s or 50s, perhaps well before you expected to be limping up the stairs.
There is good news—joint pain doesn’t have to be a part of aging. There are many treatments and life- style modifications that can help you manage your pain and live an active life. These include over-the-counter and prescription medications, corticosteroid injections, hot and cold therapy, and lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a normal weight and doing low-impact aerobic exercises.
When all nonsurgical options have failed to relieve the pain, however, your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery. Today’s joint replacement techniques are much less invasive than in the past and the artificial joints more effective than ever. This means patients can often get back to enjoying the active life they desire much faster than they expect.
Six things to keep in mind when finding a surgeon:
- Look for a hospital that performs a high number of joint replacements.
- Choose an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the joint you need replaced.
- Research a surgeon’s complication rates.
- Ask your family doctor who he or she would recommend.
- Consider getting a second opinion before having surgery.
- Ask a lot of questions; a surgeon should be happy to answer them.
The Big Move
Navigating parents through the senior-living facility transition.
As big life decisions go, this one is huge. Selling the family home, from a practical and sentimental standpoint, is rarely an easy decision. Often it’s an emotional transition for not only your parents who are still living there, but for the whole family. Here are a few steps you can help your parents take to determine if now is the right time.
Test the Waters
For starters, determine how much equity they have in the home. Have a real estate agent evaluate it—doing so doesn’t obligate you to put the home on the market. Don’t be shy about asking how much they would net after their fees. And don’t forget to consider any improvements you’d need to make to get the home ready for sale, as well as an estimate of what your moving costs may be. In terms of belongings, a lot of companies specialize in downsizing for seniors, and they’ll consult your parents and then handle the entire process.
Dispel the Misperception
Much of the trepidation about moving to a senior-living facility tends to stem from a misperception about such a place. Many people envision an outdated and quiet “old folks’ home.” But modern senior- living facilities are much more vibrant places. Once freed from home maintenance chores and surrounded by lots of others like themselves, many seniors discover a fountain of youth after their move. Touring some facilities should help remove much of that fear of the unknown for both you and your parents.
Calculate the Cost of Staying
While many are concerned with the cost of a senior-living facility, staying at home comes with its own set of costs. Your parents should sit down and calculate all the monthly expenses related to their current home, including the mortgage payment (if they have one), insurance, landscaping costs, housekeeping, and an average of what they spend on repairs. Then consider any big expenses that are looming over the next five or 10 years, like a new roof or a chair lift to get to the second floor. This will give you a better side-by-side comparison of the costs of staying versus selling. Ultimately, however, this will be a personal deci- sion. The most important thing you can do is help your parents realize they have options and you’ll be there to support them through the process.
The highly skilled, renowned orthopedists at The Bone and Joint Center offer advanced treatment for sports and hand injuries; broken bones; back, foot, and shoulder pain; joint wear and tear; and more.
The Commons in Lincoln offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. The Commons features exceptional maintenance-free senior housing, a wide variety of premium services and amenities, and a full continuum of on-site healthcare.
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Brighton & Newton
617-787-7400 | thcevaluation.com
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