Categorised | Health & Lifestyle

3 Suggestions for Maintaining Autonomy as You Age

When all is said and done, we all want to age as gracefully as possible and to continue enjoying a high quality of life for as long as possible — and ideally, forever.

To a significant extent, maintaining a high quality of life, and ageing gracefully, are a matter of maintaining our autonomy as we age. To be able to do as much for ourselves as possible, without having to depend excessively on the assistance of others.

There is, of course, no shame in turning to others for help as we age — but it’s a good basic standard to minimise the degree to which we need to do so.

Here are a few tips for maintaining autonomy as you age.

Use whatever aids might help you

There is an entire, fruitful industry of aids and gadgets that exist specifically to help older adults to maintain a degree of autonomy in their private lives.

The gadgets and aids offered by Vital Living, for example, include things ranging from electric can openers, to mobility scooters, and bathroom aids.

These tools generally work by augmenting your own natural abilities, and allow you to continue living on your own terms, in the way you’re familiar with, in spite of conditions or physical ailments which might otherwise make it difficult to do so.

Avoid sedentary living and focus on a healthy lifestyle

This is a tip which ideally is put into practice throughout your life, but there are also very significant benefits to simply remaining physically active and reducing time spent in a sedentary state, as much as possible.

All the research seems to agree that the people who are the most routinely physically active — meaning things like frequently walking around and doing sustainable levels of exercise, rather than trying to run marathons every week — enjoy better health and live longer on average than those who don’t.

Particularly as you age, there seems to be a “use it or lose it” mechanism that comes into play, where keeping your body moving is especially important in maintaining flexibility, strength, vigour, and health.

Of course, in addition to being physically active, you should emphasise a healthy diet, primarily focused around a reduction in the amount of processed food you’re eating.

Maintain the basic principle of doing as much for yourself as possible

As stated at the beginning of the article, there is, obviously, nothing wrong with seeking help from other people if you need it.

But it’s nonetheless true that psychologists are aware of a phenomenon called “learned helplessness”, where people who routinely depend on others to do things for them — things which they could have done for themselves — naturally become less confident in their own abilities, assume they can’t do things which they could in fact do, and adopt an overall “helpless” approach to life.

You may have a well-meaning relative who wants to make your life as comfortable as possible, and so offers to help you with everything. For the sake of your autonomy, it’s a good practice to turn down the help in all cases where you can safely do without it.

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