Tips for Staying Healthy: Things we Attribute to Aging that Aren’t

I just read the most fascinating article. I think it may have changed the entire way I think about aging. How many times have I ignored aches and pains or mood shifts and attributed it to my age? I firmly embrace my age, I don’t try to run from it, but that doesn’t mean I’m honest with myself all of the time. I’m pretty sure most people aren’t.

I think the most important take away from this information is how to determine what is “normal” and what might need a closer look. Let’s look at some of the conditions mentioned in the article and see how we can keep ourselves healthier and in control of our own lives.

1. Grumpy old man behavior. While Grumpy Cat might be an internet sensation today, for decades the image of the bent and wrinkly old man shaking his cane and taking about things were much better when he was a boy was the gold standard for age related crankiness. Everyone is entitled to be in a bad mood from time to time but a permanent frown isn’t necessarily a sign of aging. If a sour mood affects your personal relationships, ability to work or sleep, or any of your everyday functions it might be more than just a bad day. If you are unable to identify a cause for your foul mood it may be time to talk to your doctor about depression or other health issues that cause emotional irritation.

2. Unexplained weight loss. While this could easily be seen as a benefit of aging rather than a negative side effect, there are some major concerns when it comes to loosing too much weight too fast. While many people consider weight loss in their golden years a natural phenomenon it is anything but normal. Medical experts suggest that if you experience unexplained weight loss of 10% or more of your body weight within six months, it is high time to seek a doctor’s opinion. There are many treatable conditions that can cause you to shed pounds too fast such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or even liver disease.

3. Slowing down without really trying. Many people look forward to the age where they can slow down, exit the rat race, and take time to enjoy life. However, if this manifests in a physical way it can be a sign that there are bigger problems. If you’ve noticed that your walking has slowed down or your have difficulty with your gait or your joints it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor. If you have pain that lasts more than three months it is considered chronic and there are multiple treatments that might work for your specific diagnosis. Doctor’s also suggest that slowing down may be attributed to the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s.

To read about more health and aging myths, I encourage you to read the entire article. It may shed some light on issues you’ve been having or help you prevent a long term problem. Staying healthy is important so take care of yourselves.

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Marianne is a consultant, conference planner, group facilitator, educator, trailblazer and “The Grand Nudge” who helps individuals and groups create innovative models for living and aging in community.  She founded the Women for Living in Community Network and co-created the Women Living in Community conferences.

Women For Living in Community