Nobody really wants
to live in an assisted living facility. I would venture to say
that given the choice, we would prefer to live with family, a
spouse, or friends, or even alone in an independent environment,
taking care of ourselves and enjoying all of our personal freedoms
that our able bodies and minds allow us to do when they are working
Of course, I do realize
that as we age, and really, at any age, our physical and mental
forms can break down due to disease, injury, bad genes, and
any number of other reasons beyond our control, lessening our
functions to where we do need help - which is where assisted
living often comes in. I feel glad, and extremely fortunate
that we live in a country that offers such a wide variety of
assisted living and other long-term care options.
Many assisted living
facilities offer exercise classes, healthy meals, and mind/body
instruction (meditation, yoga etc), so adopting or continuing
a healthy lifestyle even after entering a care environment is
now more accessible than ever.
Here are the things
that I believe have contributed to my parents' (entering their
70's) and my mother-in-law's (age 79)
excellent health, happiness and ability to stay out of a managed
care or assisted living environment (so far):
- My parents both exercise, and they have ever since I can remember.
My dad was a runner when he was younger, and now he does a lot
of walking, stationary machines, and even yoga! Another great
low-impact exercise both of my parents do is water aerobics.
They both take a class at their local recreation center a few
times a week. My mother-in-law - just slowing her down is a
challenge - she is buzzing around everywhere all day long, so
I am sure she clocks several miles a day. She also does deliberate
walks every morning, as well as yoga classes at her local "Y."
I believe that since they have all made exercise a priority
in their lives, their bodies (and minds) have greatly benefited.
2) They're no
saints - I say this in the best way possible. My parents
both drink, but in moderation. As long as I can remember, my
parents have enjoyed having a drink with dinner, or when they
are celebrating something. I do believe that drinking in moderation
can help to reduce stress. I have also read this to be true
in a number of health books and journals, and that moderate
drinking can even help your heart. Again, all of them say that
moderation is the key.
On the food front...just
this past weekend, my parents were visiting and "splurged"
at the restaurant - each ordering a big, greasy cheeseburger
with a plate of french fries. Again, this was a treat, and not
the norm for them. Most any day of the week they are eating
veggies, oatmeal, lean meats, and lots of whole grains.
dad and mother-in-law also both used to smoke - but they both
quit in their 40's. I think it goes without saying quitting
has contributed to their good health.
3) Staying unflinchingly
positive - My parents, especially my dad all avoid
negativity and worthless personal conflicts. I almost consider
my dad to be Zen-like in his demeanor and actions - always positive,
and always seeking out the positive in himself and others. My
mother has had to struggle with this in her life somewhat -
being always upbeat and happy like my dad - but her persistence
has paid off. She is now always quick with a laugh, or a smile.
They avoid people who are constant complainers, drama kings
and queens, and "emotional vampires" as my dad appropriately
I believe that this
constant effort towards positivity shows in their beings, souls,
physical and mental health, and has greatly contributed to their
longevity and happiness.
I heard something recently
that really made a lot of sense with me. After leaving the presence
of someone else - do you feel better for spending time with
them, or worse? I think many people don't ask themselves this
4) Keeping the
mind active - I think everyone, especially seniors
have heard time and time again how important it is to keep your
mind active to keep it healthy. Just like any other part of
your body, the brain is something that needs to be exercised
- kind of the "use it or lose it" philosophy that
I fully agree with. Many Alzheimer's experts believe that actively
doing things that challenge the mind and brain can help delay
or prevent the onset of Alzheimer's and other dementias. Simply
choosing to learn something new every day can help - a new game,
puzzle, word, or task - all worthwhile.
My mother is a Bridge
nut - she plays this mentally challenging card game every week.
Now, with the internet - she plays almost daily online. She
even "dropped in" on an online game with Bill Gates
once (yes, **the** Bill Gates - he has a unique "handle"
when he plays Bridge, and only in certain online groups). My
dad plays Sudoko, and is constantly reading new books, and learning
new things. He has been considering switching from a PC to a
Mac recently, just for the exercise of learning something new.
My mother-in-law - just trying to keep up with her and all of
her projects is enough to keep me busy!
There IS something to
it - I am convinced. I know that there is the argument that
"my dad is 98 years old and doesn't' do any of this stuff..yadda
yadda. However, for most people I absolutely believe - and with
plenty of evidence backing - that where you are in life with
your health and happiness is the sum of you decisions, actions,
and attitude up until that point. Sure, there are the curve
balls - accidents, genes, and bad luck - but if we can use most
of our precious time doing the things that really matter in
life, more than likely a long life will happen - and
happen on our own terms.
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- by the staff at
Assisted Living Directory