Are You Prepared for Aging?

If you feel prepared for getting older, you’re in good company. In a recent survey, 86 percent of respondents — adults over age 60 — said they were prepared in general for the aging process, and more than 40 percent described themselves as “very prepared.”

But even with the high level of preparedness, many survey respondents had concerns about obstacles they might face as they grow older. Research indicates that worries about aging fall into three key areas.

Physical and mental health

About a third of survey respondents were concerned with maintaining mental health, while 40 percent focused on physical health. A majority of respondents said a good attitude, sufficient sleep and a healthy diet are vital to preserving health.

Medical professionals note several areas of concern for aging individuals. About 75 percent of people over age 60 are overweight or obese, according to WebMD. Obesity is linked to a number of ailments, including heart disease, certain cancers, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

Nearly half of the senior adult population is affected by arthritis, a leading cause of disability. Regular exercise, weight management and avoiding overuse can help, WebMD notes. In addition, osteoporosis affects nearly 44 million people over age 50.

Although many people fear memory loss, experts say it’s not an inevitable part of aging. In many cases, the multitasking that’s often part of modern life is to blame, experts say. But attention to mental health is also important; reading, staying apprised of current events, working crossword puzzles and other intellectual pursuits can help keep the brain active and healthy.

Financial planning

Cleveland Clinic lists wise financial planning as one of the major challenges of aging. Successful planning involves four steps, the clinic advises:

  • Plan ahead.
  • Manage assets and investment carefully.
  • Ensure that you have sufficient insurance coverage.
  • Consider future housing preferences.

Professionals who support seniors — including senior care specialists, pharmacists and doctors — worry that maintaining quality of life may be tough for some older adults. And for aging individuals, avoiding financial scams also can become more challenging.

Intellectual and social engagement

Seniors who no longer go to an office each day may miss out on important social engagement that’s vital for staying sharp and healthy, notes the University of Rochester Medical Center. Research has found that social interaction offers a number of benefits to seniors, including better physical, emotional and cognitive health.

Individuals who nurture close relationships and find additional means of social interaction live longer than people who live isolated lives. And social relationships even provide a boost to the immune system, the medical center notes.

Cleveland Clinic offers tips for maintaining socialization and intellectual stimulation:

  • Keep up with hobbies and beloved activities.
  • Maintain strong relationships.
  • Engage in formal lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Make use of community resources like senior centers.

Do you feel prepared?

No one ever feels completely prepared for getting older. But by focusing on your mental and physical health, financial planning, and intellectual and social engagement, you’ll be well on your way to vibrant aging.