Positive Ageing Blog

9 Principles of Positive Ageing

The World Health Organisation defines Healthy or Positive Ageing as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age”.

In Australia we have access to everything we need to grow older with health and contentment and by adopting some positive ageing principles, we can look forward to a healthy and happy retirement.

The nine principles of positive ageing that we have set out below are daily habits among the oldest populations in the world who are living healthy lives well past 100. But they are also principles that can be used at any stage of life. So, if you are a grandparent reading this blog, you may like to pass on the wisdom and share them with your grandchildren.

1. Connect with people

We all have a basic need to feel connected to our local community, it makes us feel a sense of belonging. Connecting with others can mean simple things such as chatting with the local greengrocer or barista, the checkout person at the supermarket or the neighbour three doors up the street. By giving people your time, they will feel valued and so will you.

2. Stay physically active

Staying physically active is vital as you get older if you want to stay well, healthy and independent. Maintaining strength and flexibility in your body will help you maintain balance. St Louis run Strength for Life classes at our Dudley Street premises. Or if you prefer walking, just 15 minutes a day of walking makes a positive difference to your health and wellbeing.

3. Use your brain

We used to think that the brain’s neuroplasticity peaked at a young age and decreased as we got older, but there is now scientific evidence that shows the brain continues to change and develop well into older age. This is most evident in people who have suffered a stroke. Many are able to regain their motor and cognitive abilities.

The brain wants to fulfil its potential and be used well throughout life. Picking up new hobbies that you enjoy, learning a new musical instrument or a language or any other activity that requires you to learn new skills, will keep your brain healthy and working to its best ability.

4. Eat well

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. As we get older, we need less food. Eat a balanced diet that has good nutritional value, keep it simple and fresh and stop eating before you get too full. An overly full stomach becomes inflamed and creates problems for your digestion, potentially leading to other problems. For more information on nutrition and food that is good for the brain, read 5 Ways to Maintain Brain Health as You Age.

5. Contribute to your community

You are a key member of your community and at any point in time you can choose to contribute and volunteer your time. Contributing and participating in the events and activities of your local community will make you feel more connected and happier. You’ll also meet new like-minded people. There are local charities, church groups, men’s sheds and other community groups to join. Your local council is a good place to start.

6. Find purpose

People who have a sense of purpose in life report that they are happier, more content and live longer. The Japanese call this Ikigai and believe it is the reason behind the longevity and health of their centenarians.

7. Have faith

Connecting to a greater force beyond the human existence gives people inner strength and an ability to deal with life changes better. See Me Know How, an initiative of Meaningful Ageing Australia, has found that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with greater longevity, coping skills and improved quality of life.

8. Find your tribe

Some people are born into their tribe, others have to step out and find it. Either way, finding like-minded people with whom you share a common purpose and interest, makes a positive difference to your wellbeing. It’s never too late to get involved in your local community, join a group with similar interest and potentially meet life long friends at an older age.

9. Care for your loved ones

Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly is to give your time and attention to your loved ones whether they be family or friends. The act of love is more an experience than it is a noun or something to put your finger on. Love grows when care and respect is shown, and this experience nourishes both the heart and mind.

St Louis embraces an approach of positive ageing in our care services

For our live-in residents and our home care clients in Adelaide, we encourage and support a mindset that embraces positive ageing. We provide social support programs, art therapy, music programs, and allied health services among many other things to help our clients stay healthy and well as they age. Call us on 08 8332 0950 for more information about home care, residential aged care or our independent living units.