Seeking a positive attitude for wellness

A column about aging and health.

  • Wednesday, November 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

By Betsy Zuber

Special to the Reporter

Do you believe that you have the power to change how you age? Many things contribute to our aging: genetics, lifestyle habits and perceptions. Since we cannot choose our parents, only a third of our aging process is out of our control, so that means two-thirds is in our control. This should be positive news. In fact, research is showing that no matter what your age, you can, with some lifestyle changes like exercise and diet, halt some chronic diseases.

Getting older does not always mean a descent into feebleness. You do have control over how you think and cope about your life. My clients teach me this.

My 95-year-old, wheelchair-bound, partially-blind client showed me this. Even though to look at him, one would think he should be depressed maybe even cranky about his lot in life. But he just continued to do what he could, wheeling around his apartment building visiting with other residents, listening to books on tape or TV, and lived his life. He would say getting old and frail is hard, but “What can I do? This is my life and I am going to live while I am alive.” His attitude and ability to cope endeared him to others. He had so many people wanting to visit with him that his caregiver had to set up a visiting schedule. Now he was no “Pollyanna.” He still had pain, needing daily treatment for his cellulites, but he had control over how he thought about it. How we think affects how we feel, and then translates to how we are perceived by others.

This takes conscious work and practice. My client could have just as easily become cantankerous about his situation in life. He spent most of his adult life practicing being positive even when life sent him challenges. He could still acknowledge how hard his daily routine was by being dependent on a caregiver, and that he would rather not need help. But he knew he needed help and was gracious when accepting it.

Flexible thinking about aging and acknowledging the struggle can help. With age comes experience some may call wisdom. That experience can translate into how to cope with whatever struggles come your way and is a learned skill. Pretty soon you have built resiliency and can draw from the many coping skills from past experiences. This can only happen through time, which adds hope to getting older.

So since we get to control how we think about our own aging process, what’ll it be?

Interesting Ted Talks: https://bit.ly/2D2ATYG and https://bit.ly/2to6HjF.

Betsy Zuber is the Geriatric Specialist for Mercer Island Youth and Family Services. She provides social services to anyone who lives on Mercer Island 60-plus and their families. You can reach her at 206-275-7752 or betsy.zuber@mercergov.org.

More in Life

Islander recalls filming ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Meredythe Glass was an extra in the 1939 film, and is possibly the last surviving cast member.

Motivation springs us to action

Maintaining New Years Resolution momentum through entire year.

Mercer Island school news in brief, Feb. 6, 2019

MIHS junior perfect ACT; Reception on Feb. 11

Mercer Island Preschool Association wins 2019 MIYFS Philanthropy Award

MIPA has a strong partnership with the city, raising thousands each year for preschool scholarships.

‘Defense Ninjas’ instructor Fauzia Lala and COO Kate Warady demonstrate how to break a wrist grab in a workout room at Redmond’s DaVinci Academy on Jan. 15. Katie Metzger/staff photo
Women become ninjas in local self defense classes

Instructor and Mercer Island resident Fauzia Lala aims to empower women to protect themselves.

King County Library System (KCLS) is named the leading U.S. library with 4.8 million digital checkouts in 2018 for the fifth year in a row by Rakuten OverDrive. Photo courtesy of KCLS Facebook.
King County Library System exceeds 1 million digital checkouts in 2018

KCLS leads the record for the fifth year in a row

Mercer Island Art Walk is Friday, Saturday

Second opening added for month of February.

The Mercer Island City Council honored Kari Anderson (center) for earning the Girl Scout Gold Award at a council meeting in 2018. Also pictured is Jennifer Wright, MISD executive director of Learning Services (right) and Mayor Debbie Bertlin. Photo courtesy of Janet Piehl/Girl Scout Leader Troop 43142.
Eastside Girl Scouts earn Gold Awards

Girl Scout girls make a difference in their communities

See artists ‘in action’ on Mercer Island

Northwest Artists in Action will host a second pop-up demonstration on Feb. 2.

From left, keynote speaker the Rev. Harvey Drake, pastor of Emerald City Bible Fellowship in the Rainier Valley, poses for a photo with the 2019 winner of the Covenant Shores Spirit of Martin Luther King Award, Yosh Nakagawa. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Harvey Drake headlines MLK event

Covenant Shores held its annual Martin Luther King observance on Jan. 18

Mercer Island’s newest peace pole unveiled at Covenant Shores

The pole is placed near the campus sign, which is the first mile marker of the Rotary Half Marathon.

Schools news in brief

Kindergarten registration; The Bridge recognized