JOHN McNAMEE explains……
The alarm bells started ringing the further I read into the article.
Now anyone who regularly peruses these pages will know I’m a great fan of the National Seniors Association and its inspirational leader Michael O’Neill.
You’ll often find Michael quoted on these pages on a whole range of issues which affect Australia’s ageing population. Yep, that’s most of us.
Michael and his fellow executives are out there in the corridors of power making sure that the elderly are getting a fair deal from the nation’s leaders.
The NSA has subsequently earned itself a reputation for tireless campaigning and never-say-die attitudes towards correcting the wrongs dished out to a vulnerable part of society.
So when I asked the NSA to forward me their latest media information sheet, I was looking forward to yet another hard-hitting crusade for the all-round social betterment of the country’s oldies.
The media release was headed Tips for healthy ageing and subtitled “How to live a long and healthy life is an age-old question……National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill, shares practical tips for living well”
Michael O’Neill went on to explain: “Healthy ageing has been studied widely by researchers and discussed by many and with all the theories floating around, it’s easy to get confused about what we should be doing to age more healthily.
“There are the common things we should be doing at any age – such as healthy eating, exercise and active living- but there are also some specific to us as we get older.
“Retaining independence, maintaining social connections in our communities and stimulating our minds become vitally important.”
The article then went on to list the NSA’s Productive Ageing Centre’s top 10 tips for ageing well.
Now before I get down to itemising them below, I thought I’d better confess that I hit a stumbling block as I scanned down this worthy contribution to our wellbeing.
Now I’m an old Masters athlete competing in both surf and sand events for surf lifesaving and on the athletic track running round on the hot unforgiving rubber tracks in 100, 200 and 400m sprints.
So I have to keep pretty fit all year round otherwise I’m left at the starting blocks and finish up on the bench in the First Aid tent heaving like a grampus and sucking down the oxygen therapy.
I’m not a great fan of the so-called wellbeing pharmaceuticals advertised widely in newspapers, magazines and on electronic media. You never know when the experts are going to come out and say it’s all a load of rubbish.
I mean we ageing athletes used to swear by such medications as Glucosamine and the various brands of fish oil tablets etc which cost a motza at the chemists.
Now they’re saying fish oil can cause prostate problems in ageing men and that many anti-osteo-arthritic doses have “no notable effect.”
So I’ve sort of gravitated to much more acceptable libation that soothes the aching joints and lubricates the frayed cartilages and ligaments…..shiraz.
Now I know alot of you are going to be shocked with me talking up a regular bottle of booze as a cure-all. Whoa, I’m not saying that, all I’m saying is that if you follow the so-called Mediterranean diet, a good drop of red every day or so (you don’t have to go overboard) is great not only for the ticker and brain, but also for muscular skeletal relaxation.
That’s why the alarm bells rang when I read Michael’s list which follows: (my comments at the end of each item are in parenthesis.)
Do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity each day, include various types of exercise
(strength/power training, balance, mobility and cardio respiratory activities and flexibility). (Yep, couldn’t agree more.)
Balance & Falls
If you have concerns about your balance or have fallen, investigate the cause; talk to your doctor. (Great advice)
Smoking & Alcohol Use
Quit smoking now and use alcohol wisely (no more than two standard drinks), for older people it may be preferable to drink less or no alcohol. (No-smoking a non-brainer but whoa, hold it on that alcohol item…less or no alcohol!!!!! Going to have to let that one go through to the keeper, sorry NSA!!)
Keep your weight within the healthy range for your height; know your Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist measurement; exercise and a healthy diet are important. (Too easy)
Aim to eat three meals each day (or more frequent smaller meals); ensure your diet meets the guidelines for healthy eating and drink enough water to keep you hydrated. (All good)
Chronic Conditions & Medical Care
Learn all you can about your chronic condition -what helps the condition and what makes it worse – and your medication; have a general check-up each year. (Sound advice)
Investigate the causes of sleep problems and address them; limit the use of sleeping tablets; establish regular sleep hours and a routine. (Yep, important point, that’s also where a drop of shiraz can work wonders!)
Stimulating Your Mind
Keep your mind active (e.g. learn a new skill, take up a new hobby, do a short course, read, write, do crossword puzzles, learn to play a musical instrument or learn a foreign language); see a doctor if you have concerns about your memory. (Absolutely, I’m not planning to take up the harp or begin studying Sanskrit but I get their point.)
Social Connections & Productive Engagement
Do things that make you happy and are worthwhile to you; develop and nurture your relationships with family and friends; get involved in group activities and volunteering; if lonely, isolated or have persistent symptoms of low moods talk to someone (e.g. family, friend, doctor, social worker, psychologist). (Excellent, sound advice, a must for all ageing people.)
Optimism and Adaptability
Keep a positive attitude and an open mind to opportunities that come your way; plan your retirement activities as well as your finances; look at what you can do and not what you can no longer do. (Wow, that’s nailing it!)
See it’s all pretty good stuff and once again the NSA should be praised to releasing this list of tips especially at this time of year.
In fact, I might just read through the tips again, but this time I’ll try them with a nice glass of Heathcote shiraz from the subtly dry vineyards of Victoria…or maybe a Hunter Valley vintage, then again I’m also partial to a Barossa bottle or two……..