Looking Ahead and Growing Old

As a nation, we tend to value the future more than the present, putting off enjoying today so that we will have money, prestige, or time to have fun tomorrow. The elderly feel this loss of future. The present is their time for leisure and enjoyment, but they often have no experience using leisure time.

The solution is to begin to prepare for old age early in life, both psychologically and nutritionally. Preparation for this period should, of course, include financial planning, but other lifelong habits should be developed as well (see Figure 11-10). Every adult needs to learn to reach out to others to forestall the loneliness that may otherwise ensue. Adults need to develop some skills or activities, such as volunteer work, reading, games, hobbies, or intellectual pursuits, that they can continue into their later years to give meaning to their lives. Every adult also needs to develop the habit of adjusting to change, especially when it comes without consent, so that it is not seen as a loss of control over his or her life. The goal is to arrive at maturity with as healthy a mind and body as possible; this means cultivating good nutrition status and maintaining a program of daily exercise. 61 62

Emotional Health

•  Reduce stress

•  Learn relaxation techniques

•  Cultivate a garden

•  Seek out laughter

•  Take time for spiritual growth

•  Adopt and love a pet

•  Take time off

Nutritional Health

' Choose nutrient-dense foods ' Eat at least 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables every day ' Drink plenty of water ' Keep fat intake at a healthy level ' Get adequate fiber

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