Tips for coping with old age

Live longer, but also better. Life expectancy is not the same as it was a while ago, but more than being interested in how much, we should be interested in how. This is why active aging is a renewed proposal to face old age, which focuses on the importance of considering the needs, desires and capacities of the elderly.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2015 and 2050 the percentage of the world's inhabitants over 60 years of age will go from 12% to 22%. Although with possible variations, the projections for the year 2020 contemplated that the number of people aged 60 and over would be higher than that of children under 5.

Old age does not have to be synonymous with illness, If not the opposite. It is another stage in the life cycle that invites you to think about new projects and various forms of enjoyment.

Characteristics of old age

In principle, it is important to mention that aging is a unique experience of each person, in which biological, psychological and social factors intervene. However, as a general criterion, it is accepted that the following changes may occur.

At the body level

Body changes are a correlate that accompany aging. Although today the typical image of the elderly is no longer the same, due to advances in science, cosmetic surgeries and lifestyle, characteristics such as skin with wrinkles, decreased sensory capacities (sight and ear), changes in metabolism, loss of bone mass.

Persistent physical changes in old age are, for example, wrinkles, typical of collagen degeneration.

Social changes

These changes become more evident in the roles. For example, in the transition between having a job and then being retired.

Likewise, it was long held that older people tended to isolate themselves. This does not necessarily have to be the case., since there are elderly who seek to take advantage of their free time and join activities.

Sometimes it can happen that this isolation is more due to external causes (death of the couple and other close ties) than of their own free will. Every old age is unique. We will have to be attentive to the moods and the new challenges that these social changes imply.

Cognitive and intellectual functions

Difficulties in remembering, in language and in expression may occur. For example, losing the thread of a conversation, having difficulty remembering a name, confusing people. That is, some cognitive impairment.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that older people cannot learn new things or mind your own business. These changes invite us to think that these are dynamic and not unique situations.

The important thing is to pay attention if they appear and do something with them. Insistently, old age does not have to be synonymous with loss, but with adaptation.

It may interest you: How to accompany old age

Tips for coping with old age

As in any other life stage, for old age you also have to prepare. When we decide to leave our parents' house or start a family, don't we think of a place, at a suitable time, of the necessary resources?

Some tips such as the following can help us think about how we imagine this stage of life and make decisions to choose how we want to live it.

1. Work acceptance

To face old age we must reconcile ourselves with the change and transformations that are happening. Learn to look at the new reality with other lenses and not from loss, handicap, or nostalgia for the past.

Trying to follow the same rhythm or not recognizing some limitations that the body can present leads to greater frustration.

2. Maintain a balanced life

At this point in the game, we hear a lot said "You have to die of something and I prefer it to be enjoying". The truth is enjoyment does not have to be associated with excess.

For positive aging, the ideal is to be able to eat in a healthy way, get enough rest and do moderate physical activity, depending on what the body allows.

3. We are all subjects of care

In their aging process, many people begin to feel frustrated when their independence or autonomy is affected. For example, because they cannot see well, they can no longer drive the car and need someone to drive or bring them. Many older adults feel worthless or a burden to their families.

In those moments, to face old age it is good to remember that all people need care. Therefore, at some times we give them and at other times we receive them.

4. Keep your mind active

You can choose proposals in different formats: podcast, sudokus, documentaries. The important thing is to continue with some cognitive effort.

Likewise, during old age you can also continue learning. It may be time to sign up for a course for which before there was no time or even the development of technological skills.

5. Other activities can be done

Positive aging is not about stopping activities, but about replace them with others or decrease their intensity. For example, perhaps it is no longer pleasant to take care of the grandchildren all afternoon due to fatigue, but instead there is the ability to look for them from school and bring them home.

The key is to calibrate what can be done and offer alternatives and new challenges.

6. Respect decisions

Family members must recognize that older adults are still people with rights and capable of making decisions. For example, many times we interpret that they are depressed because they refuse to go out for a walk at a mall, when perhaps they feel tired.

Sometimes they do not want to have the latest cell phone model, full of applications and more difficult to handle, but something more discreet and that serves their own interests.

We can offer our help, but not impose it. It is important that we learn to understand and empathize when they make certain requests and to respect their decisions.

Each old age is approached from different angles. There are older adults who continue to work, at a slower pace, but for fun.

Discover: Sexuality in old age

Facing old age is not fighting against it, but living it

Finally, as part of successful strategies to cope with old age, it is important to clarify that participation and social change are also necessary. We are at a time when we have ideas of devaluation of old age (uselessness, loss of capacity) and of infantilization of it.

The truth is, both old age and other stages of life have something to teach. To achieve positive aging, as a society we must also accompany.

For it it is necessary to end negative stereotypes associated with old age and position ourselves in those positive aspects: these people took care of us at some point, they have experiences and points of view that teach us many things. It is important to work to build images and discourses that are more real to what old age is today.