Happy New Year! As you look ahead to 2014, do you wonder what you or your parents might need in the year ahead to stay safe, healthy and independent at home?
You might think, “Hoo boy, grab bars, or maybe they should move.” Think again. Much of the preventive work that supports healthy aging at home can be done with nary a screwdriver. Here are 10 easy-to-follow New Year’s resolutions that you and your loved ones can make for a happy and healthy 2014.
1. Stop making “old” jokes. They perpetuate stereotypes about old age and make people feel worse about it, fueling a negativity (see Resolution 2) that causes problems. Self-deprecation has its place but does not need to be tied to the aging process.
2. Lighten up about aging. Similarly, positive attitudes about aging help people to live longer and feel better getting there.
Stay active and engaged in life, and the years will be less of a preoccupation.
3. Use realistic language about aging. No need to pretend that it’s a (slower) walk in the park, but “oldness” tends to be blamed for more problems than it causes. Why exaggerate? Say “I feel tired” instead of “I feel old” and “I feel energized” instead of “I feel young.” Speaking realistically will make it easier to talk pragmatically about changing needs; it will reduce denial and open the door to important cross-generational discussion.