Minimising the impact of ageing with an SCI

Old age is inevitable and its impact on our bodies impossible to avoid completely. Muscles grow weak, bone density diminishes and mobility becomes near impossible to maintain. However, there are some things that you can do to slow down the impact of old age on the body.

To commemorate International Day for Older Persons, which took place on October 1, we look at the ways in which we can keep our mind, body and spirit strong to ward off the impact of ageing.

Mindful of the mental

Aside from the diseases that can lead to mental illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s, ageing often impacts on a person to retain or learn new information. While a little bit of forgetfulness is expected (regardless of age), it is important to keep the mind sharp in old age.

To keep the mind active, consider enrolling in a course or activity that will stimulate the mind. Take up chess, learn to paint or a new language. If you are brave, you can attempt to study further in a more formal setting by doing a diploma, certificate or degree.

Whichever way you chose to keep the mind active, be sure to practice daily to ensure your mind gets enough exercise.

Boasting a strong body

One of the most notable impacts of ageing is the limiting of our physical abilities. Activities, that we used to do with ease, become more difficult or impossible. We are prone to more injuries and our recovery becomes near impossible.

Taking care of your body is actually quite simple. Eat healthy at least 80 percent of the time. Go for regular health checks with your doctor or healthcare professions. Finally, exercise daily. Ideally, this would be moderate exercise that suits your capabilities.

Most notably, it is important to listen to your body. If you struggle to do an activity – even something that was always very easy – try and adapt or seek help. Don’t strain your body as this can lead to injury.

For wheelchair users, this might mean using a powered wheelchair, employing a caregiver or considering a retirement or assisted living situation where assistance is available. It is better to listen to your body and live a quality life than strain your body in an attempt to life independently, which can lead to serious injury, surgery and prolonged recovery.

Spending time on spirituality

Although religion and spiritual activities is important to maintain throughout life, ageing specifically impact the emotional wellbeing of an individual. Old age could lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation or grieve with the loss of loved ones, health and wellness.

To care for your emotional wellbeing, it is important to build and maintain good relationships as you age. Consider joining clubs or activities that would allow you to meet new people of all age groups. When dealing with the psychological challenges of ageing or the loss of loved ones, seek out professional counselling so that the feelings of loneliness or loss doesn’t impact other areas of your life.

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