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The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging

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The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging

How do you define success?

Here are a few famous responses to this question:

  • “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill
  • “Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”—Jim Rohn

No matter the arena (personal, professional, financial), success is often equated with achievement. A successful lawyer wins the majority of the cases she takes on; a successful investment banker makes a lot of money for his firm.

Redefining the idea of effective aging

What happens when you apply the concept of success to something as complex and individualized as the aging process?

“There are several different definitions of successful aging,” says Dilip Jeste, M.D., Director of the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging and President of the American Psychiatric Association. “Traditional ‘objective’ definitions [of aging] have emphasized absence of physical and cognitive disabilities.”

Jeste and his colleagues recently conducted a study that turns these “traditional” definitions upside down.

After surveying more than 1,000 older adults, researchers discovered that, when it comes to aging, it’s not how fast you can run, or whether you can complete the New York Times crossword puzzle that makes you a success—it’s your attitude that really counts.

“The most surprising result we found was the paradox of aging—i.e., as physical health declined with aging, self-rated successful aging scores seemed to increase,” Jeste says. “Our findings showed that physical health was neither necessary nor sufficient for feeling good about one’s own aging.”

In fact, many seniors who were grappling with physical or mental decline said they felt that their overall wellbeing was increasing with each passing year.

How to gracefully get older

Once you’ve discovered what it means to age “successfully,” the question becomes: How do you do it?

Jeste’s recipe for effective aging includes three ingredients: resilience (the ability to adapt and persevere in the face of hardship), optimism (being able to recognize both the good and the bad in a given situation) and the absence of depression.

He provides a few strategies for approaching the aging process in a productive way:

Be logical: It’s important to strike a balance between pessimism and unrealistic optimism, says Jeste. For instance, if you have cancer, you won’t be able to cure yourself simply by thinking happy thoughts. Instead, seek out the treatment options that are right for you and remain confident that they will help you.

Keep reading to uncover three more strategies for unlocking the secret to successful aging…

 

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‘Dear Abby’ Leaves Legacy of Advice, Alzheimer’s Advocacy

The Unexpected Secret to Successful Aging originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Aging, Health, Healthy Aging, Mental Wellness, , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

80 comments

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7:21AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

Sensible and managable pointers. Thank you.

9:54PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Good friends and laughter help alo a lot, thanks.

6:32PM PST on Feb 5, 2013

My grandmother aged beautiful until she moved into an apartment with horrible air-conditioner and in one week she looked like she aged several years. Her siblings aged beautifully too. My mother is aged beautifully, and my grandmother on my father's side did as well. Genetics say I have a high chance of aging beautifully by doing nothing by avoiding things that give off chemicals and whatever the air-conditioner was giving off. I do take care of my skin though, homemade lotions, plenty of water, plenty of sun but not too much, and homemade skin block, plenty of plants have juices that help block the harmful UVs and I put it on after about 10-15 mins after being in the sun, just enough so my skin can make what it makes with the sun's rays.

Skin cancer does run in my family and I report any and all things that don't look normal or wasn't there when i was younger to my doctor at my yearly physical and it I panic even before then.

7:00AM PST on Feb 2, 2013

ty

4:27AM PST on Jan 30, 2013

thanks

1:15PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Staying active as a senior is essential to good health.Good nutrition ,exercise as well as pain management are key to good overall health.For those who prefer to treat pain without prescription drugs, acupuncture and massage can offer relief. I also recommend the free videos and tips for Natural Pain Relief at http://www.imbuebody.com

10:27PM PST on Jan 27, 2013

good post, thanks.

7:46AM PST on Jan 26, 2013

I agree with several comments about laughing. I think the thing that has kept my husband and me feeling good about life is a strong sense of humor. If you can laugh your way through the tough times you've got it beat. Best of all we DID make it through the tough times.....always have, always will. It's the faith we have in ourselves to come out the other end of the tunnel having learned a little more and knowing we'll make it through all those other tunnels.

1:11PM PST on Jan 25, 2013

Laughter and letting go seem to be healing for me.

4:12AM PST on Jan 25, 2013

Eat lots of fruits and veggies and have a least 2 trustworthy friends. My secret is to have a furry friend. Animals have such an amazing and healing impact on our overall wellbeing. Animals rule!!! Thanks.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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