Where to start? On one hand, it’s good for us to appreciate our age, as well as the wisdom we’ve acquired. The latest hashtag, #ilookmyage is evidence that this trend resonates. On the other hand, when we’re trying to get a job, we know there is stigma about age; despite legislation, ageism is rife in the workplace. This is partly to do with actuarial tables and financial liability; the older you are, the more likely you are to have health problems plus, if you’ve been with a company for many years, you are owed a ‘debt’ of superannuation, sick leave and holiday pay that is a debit on a company’s ledger.
Ageism, especially in health care, has become so evident that Torrens University Adelaide is running an online short course, Challenging Ageism. Among other elements of age, the course will cover what ageism is and how to combat ageism in the workplace.
How to look and feel younger
‘They’ say age is just a number and for many of us, I guess it is. ‘They’ also say 50 is the new 40. We know our mothers identified as ‘old’ from their forties. That’s not our generation, with many of us continuing to be active and still working until much later in our lives. In some great news for our generation, in a recent article in The Washington Post, the writer noted: ‘Older adults who feel young at heart may not just live longer, but may also have more life satisfaction, lower dementia risk and reduced depression symptoms.’
Older women in particular feel more subject to ageism and feel the need to combat the physical signs of ageing so as not to be stereotyped.
Most of us, when surveyed, say we feel 15 years younger than our chronological age. That’s healthy. When we feel younger and dress more smartly, we’re more likely to be active. We’re likely to socialise more, and socialisation is one of the best predictors of longevity. Not the exercise, not the sugarless diet. It’s all about how many interactions we have with others throughout our day, whether it’s chatting to the barista, meeting up with friends or making conversation while in the grocery store line.
Now most of you are wondering how to avoid the stigma of ageing and how to keep up. We have some ideas for you.
Physical ageing and what to do
If you’ve felt a bit creaky lately, it’s time to get more active. While we know weight lifting and strength exercises are great for bones, we’ll look and feel younger if we’re more flexible. And for longevity, studies have shown that it’s all about leg strength and the speed at which you do things.
Go onto YouTube and you’ll find a multitude of videos like this one on stretches for the over 50s. Touch your toes (or start practising), do some side kicks while you’re waiting for your tea or coffee to brew in the morning and reach for the sky to activate your arms.
Fun fact: An inability to touch your toes in a sitting position could indicate your arteries have stiffened, leading to high blood pressure and other heart issues.
We can (mostly) all walk, right? Regular walking (relatively briskly, mind you) will strengthen bones and muscles, improve lung and heart function and stave off potential diabetes 2. Try for 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day.
- Group fitness classes
Most councils around Australia offer free or low-cost fitness classes for the over 50s. Whether it’s once-a-week yoga or tai chi, some group exercise is good to keep you on track.
The more physically able you appear and the more exercise you can tolerate, the better your skin tone and the lower the less age-related discrimination you’re likely to encounter.
Mental ageing and what to do
We’ve all walked into a room and wondered why we were there. We need to stay mentally alert. You’ll have seen all the articles about doing the crossword or sudoku puzzles; however, there are other strategies you can use to keep our brains active. The most important thing is to keep learning new things. Continual learning helps our brains as well as making us more interesting to be around.
- Online courses
Organisations like FutureLearn and OpenLearn offer free and paid courses in subjects ranging from languages and agriculture to cash flow modelling.
- Courses through local councils
Many local councils offer courses in genealogy, creative writing and many more. If nothing else, you’ll have a destination once a week and meet new people.
Socialising and some options
For women, we want to give a shout out to Silver Sirens, a group dedicated to redefining ageing for women. Check out the Silver Sirens website and their forthcoming conference, Redefining Ageing 2023 Never Too Late, on Saturday 16 September 2023.
Another group we love for women is the Red Hat Society, which is, according to their website, ‘the largest International women’s social club’. We have friends who belong; they love getting out once a week to meet up with other group members and have fun. This group from what we’ve heard is purely social but if you’ve retired and want an excuse to get dressed up regularly, the hatters are for you.
Other options for socialising that offer the ability to give back to your community are membership of organisations such as Rotary or volunteering for charities like the Red Cross or Vinnies or helping out at your local pet shelter. Our uncle Bill, in his 80s, walks a dog twice a day for his neighbour who is no longer steady enough on his feet to do it himself.
Want to learn more about making the most of your next 30 years?
Retirement living can be the best time of your life.
We’re committed to making life better for the over 55s. Check out downsizing.com.au for more insights and great advice on living life to the fullest. We have a great range of properties for the over 55s to help you do that with like-minded people in land lease communities and retirement villages.