I Can Do It Myself!

May 1, 2024

Remember when you were a toddler…you don’t? Let’s start over. Remember when your kids
were toddlers, and they had just discovered the many benefits of legs? They provided height to
reach previously inaccessible things and mobility to run from you when they reached the
previously mentioned, intentionally inaccessible things.

Then we grow into teens and begin taking on more independence: Borrowing the car,
working our first job, wondering who FICA is and why he gets part of your paycheck. From
there, it's straight into young adulthood. We have to make some tough decisions about our
futures. Some were well thought out, and some were miserable failures, but we made the
decisions. We set our own course. Later, through middle age, we built our families and our
careers and made daily decisions that guided our lives and the lives of the ones we loved. We
plan for retirement, making the necessary decisions to impact our well-being for the rest of our

We spend nearly our entire lives exercising our independence, and the thought of losing
that independence is terrifying. We know that as we age, our physical abilities will likely
decline, and we may need help navigating our lives. But here is the empowering part. We can
take action NOW to maintain our independence for as long as possible.
So how do we do that? 1) Pay attention to your physical health. 2) Pay attention to your
mental health. Let’s dig in just a little.

Two factors significantly impact your physical health. What you eat and how much you
move. These are choices we can make. Maintain a healthy eating plan and avoid processed
foods. Preservatives are there to preserve the food…not you. Seek help from reliable sources
to build an eating plan that appeals to your palette and provides the nutrients your body needs.
The other part of your physical health is moving your body. (Did you just think about the
Madagascar movie? I did, too!! “I like to move it, move it!”) Walk, do chair yoga, garden…find
some activity that will get your blood flowing and muscles moving. Check with your local Senior
Center. Many have exercise programs designed for all abilities.

Mental health is the other component that helps you maintain independence as you
age. Just as your body needs exercise, so does your brain. There are a multitude of ways to
engage your brain…but watching TV for hours is not one of them. Learning a new skill helps
keep the brain active. Contrary to the cliché, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Engaging
with friends is a great way to keep your brain healthy. Spend time with friends of all ages, too.
You can learn a lot from young people (check out the May 2024 newsletter for more on this).
Ask your local Senior Center to host the Stronger Memory Program. It leads you to engage your
brain in three simple daily exercises and allows you to interact with others who want to
maintain their mental health.

Your independence is important. Don’t leave it to chance. Accept responsibility for your
own well-being. Taking action today can have a big impact on your future.


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