Abraham Lincoln is widely credited as saying, “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” And although he never said it, it’s become an aphorism.
Why is quality of life important?
We all remember the Greek myth about the goddess Eos, who kidnapped Tithonus to be her lover. She asked Zeus to make him immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. Eventually, Tithonus begged for death, and in some tellings, he became a cicada.
Quality of life has been a priority for humans for eons. As people grow older, it becomes more and more important. What’s the use of living if you can’t hug your child or hold someone’s hand?
What is quality of life?
Arguments are still raging among scientists about what quality of life is. Like good art, you know what it is when you experience it.
However, quality of life, most agree, derives from factors that include:
- physical health
- mental health
- financial security
- safe environment
- job satisfaction
- strong, supportive relationships
How can you boost your quality of life?
There are many proven methods to increase quality of life. However, these tips are targeted toward older Americans' most common problems.
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10 Ways to Increase Your Quality of Life:
1. Maintain your physical health. You already know how to do this by exercising (150 minutes a week) and eating right. Your physical health affects every aspect of your life, so it’s the basis of your quality of life.
2. Plan for the future. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure helps with a lot of things. Having money helps ensure safe housing, ability to socialize, nutritious food, and adequate medical care.
3. Foster self-confidence. Like wellbeing, self-confidence is the basis for many of the activities that boost quality of life.
4. Develop strong, supportive relationships. Although marriage is the most common—and most effective—way to increase quality of life, relationships with life partners, your children, friends and even pets can also help.
5. Live your dreams. If you haven’t already discovered the activities that bring joy to your heart, now is the time to search. Happiness benefits your mental and physical health.
6. Work. As you grow older, you may look forward to retirement. But days of relaxing with no goals do not enhance your quality of life, according to scientific studies; work does. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to the old 9-to-5; you can volunteer, travel, remodel your home, start a new hobby, and even start your own business.
7. Maintain a positive attitude. When scientists studied what makes people happy, they found that older people tend to be happier. Further research showed that older people are not happy because they are richer or have more friends or have more leisure time, but because people become more accepting of the vicissitudes of life.
8. Treat depression and other mental illness quickly and effectively. More people over the age of 65 suffer from depression than any other mental illness. While only about 6% of people over 65 are diagnosed with clinical depression, experts estimate actual numbers are higher. And, sadly, depression is more highly correlated with successful suicides among the 65-and-over compared to the general population. Fortunately, 2 easy cures for most forms of depression are exercise and sun exposure.
9. Become more religious. The politically correct term is spiritual, but scientific surveys have not been done on people who consider themselves spiritual, as opposed to religious, so we don’t know. What we do know is that people who attend church more frequently and say religion plays a large part in their lives report more satisfaction with their lives.
10. Stay mentally active. Do crosswords, learn a new language, take guitar lessons, or read. Stimulate your brain to prevent dementia and other common age-related reductions in mental ability.