Are you the life of the party or are you the “sad sack” sitting in the corner feeling out of place and out of sorts? Not everyone is programmed to be the life of the party, but feeling “down in the dumps” all of time is not normal either. You may be suffering from depression, or, you may have just forgotten what it is like to feel happy.
So, what’s with this happiness thing anyway? Happiness, as you know, is big business. There are hundreds of thousands of “how-to be happy” books on the market, and the fact that people spend billions of dollars on happiness pills and therapy speaks volumes.
It turns out that happiness really does matter. Surprising as it may seem, the latest research indicates that there may be a correlation between happiness and stroke prevention. This is a rather interesting statistic and one well worth thinking about. Regardless, life is easier and more fun when you feel good about yourself.
Make up your mind to be happy. Treat yourself well. Take a few minutes before you get out of bed in the morning to think good thoughts, and then plan your day accordingly. This might be a good time to rethink meditation or a morning yoga routine. Practice smiling at yourself in the mirror and then smile when you sip your coffee, smile at the paperboy, smile at your next door neighbor, and then keep on smiling.
If you are still having more bad days than good days, you may need professional help. The good news is that society no longer views counseling, therapy sessions or support groups negatively; in fact the whole idea of “finding yourself” has become quite trendy.
Nip mild depression in the bud, before it becomes habitual and ruins your life. Let happiness be your new normal. Happiness matters.
There’s no law that says seniors can’t giggle and laugh and have fun like everyone else. Where is it written that little old ladies (and guys too) have to spend “social hour” just sitting around visiting. I’ve been watching Pickleball tournaments this summer and I can’t imagine a better way to have fun.
Pickleball is a relatively new sport and it is ideal for seniors. Remember tennis? Remember badminton? Remember Ping Pong? Pickleball is a cross between all three. It is easy to learn and can be played both indoors and outdoors.
Basically the players use an oversized table tennis paddle to volley a whiffle ball over a net. The court is a third the size of a standard tennis court, the serve in underhand, and since the ball moves slower you can concentrate on placement rather than on trying to “kill” the ball.
The name makes it sound like a kid’s game, but it was initially intended for the 60 and over crowd. It is an activity that nearly everyone can play, but if you watch tournament play you will appreciate it on many different levels.
It is easy to learn and easy on the joints but you can still get a good workout. You don’t have to be a super athlete in order to have fun. Quickness helps, a long arm reach helps, but it isn’t a must. Age doesn’t matter. If you can move, you can stand there and hit the ball back and forth.
What’s in it for you, besides fun that is? Besides the obvious cardiovascular benefits the lateral and forward motion helps improve balance which, as you know will lower your risk for falls. Better yet…it exercises your mind as the game is based more on placement of shots than on power so it sharpens your planning and decision making skills.
The game was invented in 1965 and has grown in popularity to the point of having a USA Pickleball Association, which tells you that this isn’t just a bit of fluff designed to give grandma something to do. You will find groups at your local senior center, YMCAs, racket clubs and recreation ceners.
What do you think about taking the bus? Americans love to drive. You probably remember your first car. It’s too bad that driving isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
Gone are the days when entire families would pile into the car for a Sunday afternoon drive. They don’t do that anymore. Its rush hour traffic 24/7, gas prices are out of sight, and folks who drive the speed limit are considered a menace to society. Too fast, too slow, too close, too far away, you are never doing the right thing.
It is good to get out of the house, everyone says so, but how do you get from point A to point B without losing your mind? A growing number of people are turning to public transportation because it is a cost effective way to get away from it all. Riding the bus is safe, economical, and it is easy to learn how to navigate the system. It is only fear of the unknown that keeps many from taking the first step.
Conquer the fear. Ask a family member to go with you the first couple of times. Once you are comfortable with getting on and off, using transfer options or using the ADA amenities, you will be on your way. If you are still timid about navigating the transit system alone you will be pleased to know that help is just a phone call away. In addition to information you will learn about the special training programs that can make you feel like a pro in no time at all.
By all means use your car to go to the grocery store, out to lunch or to church, but don’t rule out public transportation for routine trips. Carry a bus pass or the right change, know where you want to go, travel lightly, dress comfortably and sit back and enjoy the ride. It is good to be out there surrounded by people of all ages, and it is good to have someplace to go.
Would it hurt you to smile already? Look around you, how many people do you actually see with a smile on their faces these days. Is it really easier to be unhappy than happy?
No one expects you to be happy 100 percent of the time but cultivating a pleasant expression shouldn’t be that hard. Although you do have to be careful not to go overboard; people who are “too cheerful” drive you nuts too.
It is easier for some people than it is for others; not everyone is genetically programmed to have a sunny disposition, but most of us could do better.
If you really want to radiate calm and happiness you can do it by practicing. Smile at your reflection when you look in the mirror. Don’t be critical. You won’t look the same as you did when you were twenty or even thirty, but there is still something special going on. That smile can make you feel better, and it might even smooth away some of those frown lines. For just a minute focus on life’s satisfactions rather than on feelings of distress.
Learn how to be happy; it feels good, promotes creative thinking, and benefits your health. Let’s start today. Smile when you bite into a piece of cheese cake. Smile when you take that first sip of coffee in the morning. Smile when you cup a rosebud in your hands. Smile at the baby in the stroller. Smile when you watch a mother duck swimming with her babies. Smile at the puppy who just wants to say hello. Now, was that so hard?
Are you still having trouble? Try doing some things you might enjoy: meditate, talk with friends, resurrect an old hobby, write a journal entry or spend time with nature. Last but not least, if you need more help see a therapist and learn how to release your inner joy.
A smile is a good place to start. It is all about going through the motions. Don’t wait until you feel like it, do it now. Before you know it someone will smile back at you and will be on your way.
Most of us are familiar with “Amber Alert” notifications but are you familiar with the term “Silver Alert?” It is pretty obvious when you think about it, but my initial reaction to seeing a silver alert message on an electronic highway reader board was “what in the world is that?”
This is something new, or at least new to me. Similar to the Amber Alert for missing children we now have a “Silver Alert” to alert the public that a senior with dementia or other cognitive disorders is missing. When a Silver alert is issued, the media will release a description of the missing person and contact information for law enforcement agencies. The information is posted on roadway message sign boards if the missing person is driving an automobile.
People with Alzheimer disease or other forms of dementia tend to wander. Wanderers, not found within 24 hours, often suffer serious injury or even death. It happens more often than you might think. Sixty percent of persons with dementia will wander at some point. Some drive, some will walk and some may talk an unsuspecting bus driver into a free ride. Regardless, you would be surprised at how far they can travel in a very short period of time.
Family members and Police are called to help locate lost seniors; needless to say they appreciate all of the help they can get. Imagine the stress, worry, confusion and desperation felt not only by the person who is lost but by those who take care of them.
Please consider having your senior carry a global positioning system (GPS) at all times. GPS, Fitness and other trackers are quite trendy these days and no longer shout out that a loved one is a “basket case.” In fact, it is a sign that you care enough to take care of yourself in every way.
Activity monitoring systems are small and sophisticated; they can track the actions of a person and send alerts if they fall, wander, or merely begin to slow down. Some people will fuss about privacy infringement but consider the alternatives. Instead of thinking infringements think about how these technologies can help older people remain independent as long as possible.