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Ageing Well in Later Life
Helen Dugdale
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Ageing Well in Later Life

By Helen Dugdale - Australian Brain Coaching

It's important to celebrate our elders and their achievements and their value to society.

There have been lots of studies and trials on being healthy in later years, particularly emotional well-being as that has a definite impact on your physical well-being.

Yes it is possible to change your ways and improve your life by overcoming those things that are annoying you, ( I am not talking medical or physical things - I'll leave those things for the doctors and medical professionals)

YES - you can learn to overcome stresses, difficult situations, bad habits. 

Scientists have done thousands of trials and brain scans, and the brain is pliable i.e. plasticity of the brain cells is real. You can change your thinking habits and learn new things. This helps improve your satisfaction with life as you age.

Here are 7 simple things that you can do, starting from today!

1. Physical activity. Movement gets the blood pumping and sends oxygen to the brain, which helps build those brain cells. Even if you can't walk very well, just do some fist pumps into the air, or lift your feet while sitting down, one at a time)

2. Nutrition is important - especially having less sugar and processed food - again - they have done brain scans on people who only eat junk food, versus people who eat more fruit and vegies, and there is more brain activity in the latter

3. Social activity - having people around you  or being involved in communal events eg, Men's Shed; arts and crafts, volunteer organisations. Eg. Meals on Wheels; or Mentoring young people. Other trials have shown that if someone is depressed or feeling a bit low - a good way to feel better is to go and help someone else in need. It is good for the receiver and the giver!

 Having people around you and being involved prolongs your life. It is more than just having someone to remind you to take your pills or to ring the doctor, that is important, and so is the energy and stimulation you get from interacting with other people. For example - You might try a bit harder yourself, if you know you have to present yourself somewhere, it is also includes the mental stimulation of being involved with others.

4. Learn something new - take up a new interest eg. music, dancing, craft, reading, card games, scrabble club, gardening tips; laughter yoga, and if something doesn't exist in your area - start one up!

My Dad, Norm Chapman is a great example of living well as he ages - he is 89, very sociable, started up a herb garden; plays cards, has his $10 bets on the horses (works out the odds etc), eats much less sugar than he used to, his health has improved, and his brain is amazing - he has a terrific memory, tells wonderful stories.

YES- It is possible to teach an old brain new tricks!

Your brain is creating new cells and new pathways all the time, especially if it is stimulated, and if you don't use certain skills, or certain parts of your brain, then those cells die off, and it is hard to keep those skills, Eg. hurting your right hand and having to use your left hand. That is your brain creating new neural pathways, to learn a new skill. As my psych lecturer (and others) have said - "Use it or Lose it"!

5. Optimism  - you CAN choose to be optimistic or pessimistic. ie Glass half full. Again - scientists have done trials and found that optimists tend to live on average, 7 years longer. Look at mishaps as challenges rather than disasters, try and find a positive angle to things. eg, If the plumber hasn't turned up yet, use that time to read or weed the garden, phone a friend rather than moan about how bad some tradies are, (you don't know what they are going through themselves).

List some reasons for you to be optimistic and positive - eg. fresh air, good health care providers, having a sewerage system!! Council services!

6. Self- esteem, Its important to Practice this. You have a lot to be proud of, you've experienced a lot in your life. Reflect on your achievements, rather than your regrets, forgive yourself;  tell stories about your life. Do not let people put you down just because you are not as quick as you used to be or just because you don't know the latest computer gismo! Just because your memory isn't as quick as it used to be - remember - you have been around a long time, you have a lot of memories tucked away in that brain - it just takes a little while to find them! It's like a filing cabinet - the more that is in there, the longer it takes to find it, but if you use it a lot- it will be quicker to find that information.

Now for the last point:

7. Stress Less - Again scientists have proven that stress is not good for your health. Easier said than done though isn't it? So what are some things that will help with your stress levels?

All of the above 6 points will help.

Plus:

* Being in nature

* Being with friends/family/children,

* Laughing - even a fake a laugh is better than no laugh "Fake it Till you Make it!"

* Meditation - just taking 15 minutes to appreciate the things around you.

* Keep a grateful diary - every night - write down 3 things that was good about your day , so that is what you are thinking of when you go to sleep, rather than any negative things.

If you are still stressed about things - this is where I can help. Brain coaching can help you change your thinking habits and create new productive habits.

Brain coaching helps people of all ages - ie. dealing with difficult people, procrastination; public speaking fear; phobias eg Agoraphobia (fear of leaving your home). It also helps with boosting confidence and motivation. You Can Do It.

If you know of anyone who may need some help, pass on my number. The first 30 minutes is free.

Feel welcome to give me a call, and we can discuss how Brain Coaching can help improve your life. (0417 064507)

What is one thing that you are going to start doing as a result of reading this article?

Think about - join a group, ring a long-lost friend, de-stress, exercise; cut back sugar??

The full article appeared in the North West Courier Narrabri's Seniors Week feature.

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