You have probably heard the term “young at heart” as it’s’ been around since the mid-19th century. But if you ask a variety of people what this term means, you probably will get, different but similar answers. Even dictionaries have slightly different definitions of what it means to be young at heart. Merriam Webster defines it as “thinking and acting like young people: active and having a lot of energy.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines young at heart as “Especially of middle-aged or elderly people: having qualities associated with young people, especially energy, enthusiasm, or optimism.”
So, what are the qualities of being young at heart and is this something we should attempt to cultivate as we age in years? Some basic qualities include optimism, enthusiasm and resilience. These qualities have a positive effect on one’s overall well-being. This has been confirmed by both short and long term studies of older adults. Findings include that those with positive outlooks are more likely to stay healthy and enjoy independent living than those with less cheerful perspectives. Some studies have also shown that people become more positive in their outlooks as they age. Optimism is something that can be learned: setting goals, believing in your dreams, being true to yourself and associating with positive-minded people can help you increase your optimism!
Resilience is another important factor in life and especially as we age. Older adults face a number of losses such as the end of a career at retirement, loss of friends or a spouse, health changes and financial challenges to name a few. Resilience enables a person to adapt well to adverse changes and stresses in life. Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.
Acceptance is another important quality to cultivate. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you have to accept the weight gain or lack of energy that can add up with the years. Fighting aging and trying to do the physical things you did in your 30s isn’t the answer either. Healthy aging means looking at your lifestyle and making changes in your diet, sleeping, and physical activity to stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can.
Ten tips to activate positive aging in your life from Manfred Diehl, PhD are:
- Stay physically active
- Exercise your brain
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle
- Stay connected to other people
- Create positive conditions for yourself
- Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Set yourself goals and take control
- Minimize life stress
- Have regular medical check ups
- It is never too late to begin
If you are young at heart, want to be more young at heart, or want to meet others who are young at heart, there are opportunities for you right here in Eden Prairie. Get to know the Eden Prairie Senior Center. There are countless activities available for all interests and abilities – from zip lining to lunch outings, biking, and more. If you have a special interest they will even help you get a group started! The Senior Center is a great place to try new things, meet new people, and just have fun. You will definitely meet others who are young at heart there. A well-known anonymous quote states that “Youth is an act of nature; age is a work of art.”
Holly Hansen, Partner, Brilliant Moves
www.BrilliantMovesMN.com - 612-605-7303
EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org