Have you spent time imagining your ideal health future and making habits today to achieve it? Have you found that your ideal health future ideas change as a result of the aging process? I sure have. Most of my youthful health interests had more to do with how I looked and the size of my clothing than with actual health. With a young, healthy body it’s easy to make health decisions at a surface level. As we age, our ideal future health considerations change, and the habits necessary to maintain good health may change. A more in-depth analysis is required.
Aging brings a variety of physical, emotional, and medical issues that must be dealt with for all of us. As we consider health goals this month, we need to inventory the changing needs and plan accordingly. Here are some of the things I’m considering as I imagine my health future.
It’s time to get real - Here’s one bottom-line truth for me. I’ve let my health go and at my present age will have some very real health issues if I don’t get serious about correcting bad choices. Is this a reality for you, too? Here are some of the habits I need to change or improve.
Nutritional issues - As food allergies increase in our general population, I am finding myself among those struggling. I have a lot of opinions on why food allergies are becoming so common but will leave those for another blogger to cover. Weight gain, allergic reactions, digestive issues, and mediocre nutrition are all some of the side effects of the food allergy battle. My primary focus on a new habit for 2023 is to get consistent in a vitamin regimen to improve nutrition and how I feel. I believe this change will also help with some of my other health concerns. It sounds silly to have to make taking vitamins a habit, but I've found with my busy schedule I very frequently forget the simple act of taking a vitamin or two.
Do you have a vitamin or supplement regimen that works for you?
Physical activity and mobility - Our physical abilities change over time. Loss of strength and agility means a change in how we exercise, especially as we begin to make improvements and changes with health goals in mind. My sweet husband had a heart attack in December. Gratitude for his survival is top of my list, of course, but the experience has sparked some interesting conversations about health since. Nothing like a wake-up call, right? We both know we need to improve our physical activity level because we spend most of our working days sitting at desks. Given this new health development in our midst, how do we ease into strengthening our bodies? Of course one of the top recommendations from the cardiologist was walking. In imagining our health future, I would see both of us building a habit of getting on the treadmill at least three or four times a week and maintaining a consistent schedule of doing so. What we haven’t done together yet, is make each other accountable for that goal.
How do you work with your spouse to be accountable for health goals?
Emotional needs and challenges - The reality of a heart attack creates an emotional stir. The concerns of the health crisis give way to the awareness that we must face the reality of older bodies and their increasing health concerns. What does that look like even if we rise to the challenge of losing some bad habits and replacing them with new ones? One of our conversations focussed on travel changes we might need to acknowledge. In the past, we’ve enjoyed traveling to many places around the world. We love to learn and have taken tours with many adventures that might be a bit more physically aggressive than we are able to do at the moment. Even with some improvement in our physical condition, we may have to acknowledge that some adventures are not for us anymore. The risk of injury is greater than the gain.
Some may think this sounds defeatist. I don’t believe it is. One of the interesting and challenging aspects of aging is evaluating how to replace activities that were once important with new, meaningful activities that bring us joy and perhaps even more satisfaction. Making that mindful choice and searching out the things that work for our present age and physical condition can be a blessed experience IF we choose to make it one.
What changes in activities have you made as you aged?
All of the considerations above relate directly to one primary goal for grandparents. We desire to spend as much quality time with our Grands for as long as possible. We want to see them grow up, start families of their own perhaps, and become the persons we know they have the potential to be. Part of the joy of being a grandparent is reliving the excitement and hope of a new human life. Grandparents, take time each year in January to reevaluate your health, habits, and hopes for the future. It doesn’t matter whether we have an expectation of fifty years or five years, we can choose to make the best of every precious minute of life we are given.