How to age gracefully

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Orem’s Lanae Valentine is cycling her way through her sixties. “Hobbies and physical activity are so important when it comes to aging well,” she says.

Orem’s Lanae Valentine is cycling her way through her sixties. “Hobbies and physical activity are so important when it comes to aging well,” she says.

Lanae Valentine has earned every one of her 60 years. And while most associate aging with decline, she makes an effort to recognize its benefits, too.

“Not everything about getting older is bad,” she says.

Her wisdom on the topics of aging, self esteem and body image are informed by life experience as well as professional training. In addition to a doctorate degree in marriage and family therapy, she served as the director of women’s services and resources at BYU and now works in the university’s accessibility center.

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Taking care of yourself and accepting the aging process don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Therese Taylor from Provo’s Renaissance Academie shares these tips.

1. “Most of the discolorations, spots and fine lines on our face comes from sun damage. It’s never too late to moisturize and start wearing 50 spf sunblock daily,” Therese says.

2. “We are what we eat,” Therese says. “A well-balanced diet will help our skin and hair look more youthful and radiant.”

3. “If you decide to color your hair rather than let it go gray, spend the extra money to get professional, dimensional hair color,” Therese says. “With the right cut and color you will look and feel your best.”

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So, just what are these benefits?

One of Lanae’s favorites is freedom.

“A lot of women start to finally do what they want when they get older,” she says. “They dress how they want and live how they want and let go of things.”

But where does this freedom come from? Lanae says that as women mature and grow, they learn how to tune out the voices of others and begin to tune into their inner voice.  This clarity gives women freedom to make their own choices and feel good about them.

One of the things Lanae admires about the women she considers to be “aging gracefully” is that they embrace a deeper definition of what “beauty” is.

“As we grow wiser, we start to realize that beauty is not about what we look like, but about what we put into the world,” Lanae says.

Grandkids and family are another source of happiness as we age.

All of that aside, the reality of our physical bodies deteriorating is real. Lanae suggests that staying active, staying healthy and trying to not focus on the aches can make a difference.

“One day I hurt my foot wearing a new pair of shoes,” Lanae says. “I fretted and fretted about it. I kept going to different specialists and coming up with new theories about what was wrong with me. Then, I decided I had had enough and I got on my bike and started riding. The pain went away!”

Lanae’s love of cycling with friends keeps her feeling good physically while also giving her important social support.

“Having friends when you are older is huge,” she says. “Studies show that social engagement gives our lives meaning, while isolation can have the opposite effect.”

Another common struggle of women in their 50s is the desire to find meaning in a new stage of life. Many of these women spend their 20s and 30s focused on family and their confidence comes from those roles. As children leave home, new sources of contentment help these mothers make the transition.

“Some of the happiest 50-year-old women I know are ones who are going back to school or switching up their career,” Lanae says. “They realize they still have so much life to live and so much time to learn.”

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Kate Lehnhof Nash first joined Bennett Communications as a summer intern in 2009. Now, as an associate editor, she writes for magazines including Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Valley Bride and Prosper. Kate lives in Springville with her husband Steve and enjoys running, reading, sushi and her french bulldog, Chief.

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