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How to age gracefully: Don't be afraid of growing older  By Chris Mautner 

Everyone talks about wanting to “age gracefully,” but what does that really mean?
   
Is it about cheerfully accepting growing older and the changes that come with it? Or is it about trying to stay as youthful as possible — physically and mentally — regardless of the consequences? Or is it just about feeling good and staying as healthy as possible?
   
“There’s normal aging and then there is successful aging,” said Dr. Noel Ballentine of Penn State Hershey Internal Medicine. “Successful aging is being vibrant well into your 80s. It’s not only possible but it’s common.”
   
“Aging gracefully is being as healthy and active for as long as possible, even when your health is in decline,” said Ron Barth, president and CEO of LeadingAge PA.
   
Here are some ways to do that:
   
Get an early start. “You have to start taking care of yourself long before you’re in your 70s,” Ballentine said. “Don’t count on your health to be excellent unless you’ve been working on it for 20 to 30 years.”
   
Keep active physically. We’re not saying you should run a mile every day, but some form of physical exercise is always a good idea regardless of your age.
   
“We try to tell [seniors], ‘Once you start moving you will start to feel better almost immediately,’ “ said Renee Harlow, fitness director at Country Meadows Retirement Communities in Hershey. “It’s never too late to begin exercising.”
   
Keep your mind active. Read. Do crossword puzzles. Your brain needs as much exercise as your body.
   
Eat right. “Good nutrition is vital,” Ballentine said. A poor diet can lead to such problems as diabetes, obesity and joint issues.
   
Be proactive.
Plan for the future. Think about where you are going to be in 10 years and what you want to do. “A lot of people get to the point where retirement hits and are not sure what’s next,” said Matthew Gallardo, a life coach for Messiah Lifeways in Mechanicsburg.
   
Ask yourself tough questions about what you are going to do with your time. What are the things you want to accomplish or enjoy when you were younger but didn’t have the time to do? Do you have enough money to live as you’d like to? Do you want to stay in your current home or move to a retirement community? What are the things you thought of doing but didn’t have the chance to?
   
“You need to look down the pike a little,” said Mary Ellen Tarman, 64, co-owner of Tarman’s Books. She and her husband recently moved from their South Hanover Twp. home to Masonic Homes in Elizabethtown. “We know where we will be and what to expect,” she said. “It won’t be a surprise.”
   
“Once you make the decision to face the future and plan for it, it’s a great sense of relief to know that things are in place,” said Alma Bobb, 98, a retired dancer at Country Meadows.
   
Get involved. Staying active in your community is a good way to keep your mind sharp. Volunteer. Go back to school or look into trying a second career. “There’s always an opportunity to grow,” said Vicki Gillmore, executive director of Masonic Village in Elizabethtown.
   
Anticipate your health-care needs. Have a plan in place so that if you or a loved one becomes ill you know what to do. “A lot of people overlook this. They think, ‘It won’t happen to me’ or ‘It’s not something I need to worry about yet,’ “ Gallardo said. “But nursing care costs anywhere from $90,000 to $100,000 a year. You need to start planning for that. The more research and digging you do the better prepared you’ll be.”
   
Maintain a positive attitude. There are benefits that come with growing older, such as having a better understanding of yourself and feeling comfortable in your own skin.
   
“Try to be yourself at any age. Don’t be in denial about it. Just try to go with the flow,” Bobb said. “I’m taking it one day at a time.”
   
Don’t fight getting older.
The only way to live a long life is to get older, and if you ignore encroaching age, you’re going to have difficulty adjusting to it.
   
“You can fear [aging] or embrace it,” Gallardo said. “By embracing it, you can seek what makes you happy and go after it.”    

And for Medicare supplemental coverage, Silver Script, Advantage plans call Carol @ (740) 992-6677 

Bill Quickel's - Insurance Plus Agencies Inc. 114 Court St. Pomeroy, Ohio 45769

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Posted 9:24 AM  View Comments

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