“Don’t ever get old!”

I hear this phrase often while working with older adults. Some say it with a smile, others are quite solemn. It speaks to the fact that aging is a complex and sometimes difficult experience. Two components of wellness that can be particularly detrimental to healthy aging if they are not given proper attention are social and physical wellness.

Social facts of life have the possibility to diminish our perceptions of wellness. Children leave the home and often move far away. Friends and spouses pass away. Many older adults find themselves with increasingly fewer social connections.

Physical facts of life can also threaten perceptions of wellness. Injuries throughout one’s lifetime accumulate. The aging body dehydrates; leaving skin wrinkly, joints achy, and muscles weak. Vision, hearing, and memory decline too.

This presents a gloomy picture of aging. It may seem that the odds are stacked against us, but everyone has opportunities to experience genuine social connections and relative physical fitness at any age. If you are becoming increasingly isolated and sedentary, take immediate action to improve these two areas of life. Only through action do ideas manifest into reality.

Socially, brainstorm with the people in your life you already know. Could you join these people for a mutual activity? Think small, like a cup of coffee or a leisurely walk. This could open you up to additional social interactions. Even if you do not feel like the people in your life are currently fulfilling your social needs, they may prove to be positive stepping stones to more satisfying relationships.

Physically, take an assessment of your body and its abilities and limitations. Make a list if you have to. Next, formulate ideas on how you can maximize your abilities whilst working around your limitations. Commit to being physically active in some form every day.

Wellness should not feel complicated. If you live in a retirement community such as Galloway Ridge, staying socially and physically active is simple. There are dozens of social groups that meet regularly, covering a wide variety of interests. Additionally, the Duke Center for Living is a one-stop shop for all of your physical needs.

There are group exercise classes for every ability level and every mode of exercise. Those classes provide the opportunity to socialize, too. Our team of Exercise Physiologists can guide people of all abilities on how to best move their bodies in order to live better.

Aging need not be viewed negatively just because it presents unique challenges. Choose for yourself to see the process in a positive light; a process in which you continue to grow, expand your knowledge, and better your life through each and every experience.

By Jared Rogers
Exercise Physiologist and Personal Trainer
Duke Center For Living at Fearrington