Our culture, combined with the media, will have you believe that getting older is a terrible process that we should do everything in our power to prevent; more often than not, when we see the word ‘age’, it has ‘anti’ written in front of it. In our youth-obsessed society, we often associate old age with illness, loneliness and loss, but in reality, the oldest members in our society are often the happiest.
Unexpected? Well, that’s not all. Older people have higher self-confidence, are more likely to ‘live in the moment’ and they’re even having better sex. Maybe you’re on the cusp of ‘old age’ or you’re reading with a family member or loved one in mind – either way, being happier no matter your age can improve your health, social life and appearance. We’re just going to go ahead and say it – happiness is no laughing matter.
How to achieve happiness in older age
Happiness in older age can stem from many things; decreased responsibility, relief from the stress of working life or just the fact that you’ve grown into yourself enough not to care what other people think anymore. However, there are some key behaviours we should take up to improve our mood.
Exercise is the best place to start, but fear not, you don’t need to be pumping iron down at the gym to stay fit. Just getting out and about or doing gentle yoga at home is an easy way to boost your mood. A little bit of exercise not only makes you feel great, it’s also really important for good health. Doing just 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of serious illness and even lowers your chances of becoming disabled by 25%.
You may not realise it, but your diet actually impacts how you feel. Eating a healthy diet full of fibre has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase serotonin levels. You should also make an effort to eat regularly and not skip meals as this keeps your blood sugar levels constant and reduces mood swings.
It’s common knowledge that maintaining deep meaningful relationships with the people we care about is great for our happiness levels and mental health. What might be more surprising is that small interactions with passers-by, supermarket clerks and baristas actually affect our mood too. So, try to stay involved with family as much as possible and do your best not to become isolated as this can lead to loneliness and in turn, depression.
A sense of purpose is incredibly important to wellbeing, though it can be hard to get back into the swing of things post-retirement. Consider taking up a hobby such as gardening or knitting (if this one’s for you – be sure to participate in Age UK’s The Big Knit!) or volunteer once a week. You can find out more about volunteer opportunities here or contact local organisations to see what’s going on in your area.
Don’t leave things to chance
Planning for retirement or even long afterwards can be daunting, but peace of mind can do wonders for our confidence. Knowing what will happen in your future and having a plan for different situations is a sure fire way to feel at ease. Reducing uncertainty lowers stress levels and allows us to live in the moment, knowing that we’ve got a plan no matter what happens.
Get support during life changes
Retirement can be hard, downsizing can be disorientating and losing someone you love is hell. We all need support during big life changes and your later years are often filled with them. Join a support group to build a network of people going through a similar situation and be sure to open up to family, friends or professionals who can help.
Happiness in older age might not always be easy – but making an effort to change your mood for the better is always worth it. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University College in London found that happier people are more robust and fit. Not to mention that many of the things that make us feel better emotionally (exercise, eating well etc.) are also really important for our physical health.
What are you waiting for?
The author of ‘The Longevity Process’ Howard Friedman, who is also a psychology professor at the University of California, says that genes only contribute a quarter of your longevity. The rest? Well, that’s up to you.
Staying happy means staying healthy, which will give you the independence and confidence to live in the moment and enjoy your golden years. Kintell is a device that supports you through retirement and other significant life changes so you can adjust to your new normal and improve your habits – making you happier and more confident as you age. To find out more about Kintell, visit our website or find us on Facebook.