Self-esteem is a challenging topic for many people regardless of age. Studies show that on average, our self-image rises throughout adulthood until it peaks around the age of 60. If you think about it, that makes sense. We spend our lives working to attain certain milestones, and as we reach middle age, most of those milestones have been achieved. You might enjoy stable work with regular income, a solid family life, and close relationships with your spouse, partner, and others.
As we grow older, these things can start to slip away. Children leave the nest, you may enter retirement or feel as if the workforce has outpaced you. Health challenges start to develop, affecting you or a loved one. These are all major life experiences, and any type of major change is accompanied by a certain amount of anxiety. It’s no wonder that aging is often served with a side of lower self-esteem. But there are ways to improve one’s positive outlook on life even in old age. So, what are 5 things older adults can do to improve their self-image as they age?
1. Make Strong Social Bonds
Meaningful personal connections ground us and boost our confidence. Research shows that seniors who enjoy the support of close family and friends have higher self-esteem than those who go it alone. However, it’s a bit of a catch 22, because seniors who suffer from poor self-esteem may find it hard to develop close friendships as they age. If this sounds like you, start small!
Think of something you enjoy doing and find a group that participates in those activities. Join a book club, a knitting circle, or take a cooking class. There are many community groups on social media that focus on certain interests. Subscribe to one or two of them and practice connecting with new people. You can also consider volunteering for an organization that interests you. Walk dogs at an animal shelter, be an usher at a local community theater, or volunteer to help out in local events such as the annual fishing tournament.
Anything that gets you out there connecting with other people is bound to make you feel good, keep you active, and boost your self-esteem. And who knows? You might find you enjoy making new friends!
2. Practice Good Personal Hygiene
It doesn’t matter how old you are, no one feels good about themselves if they sit around in their bathrobe all day long. Positive self-worth starts when you believe that you’re worth taking care of. It’s easy to get let personal hygiene slide, especially if you’re retired and spending more time alone. Give your self-confidence a boost and take the time to get out of bed, bathe, and get dressed as if you were expecting company.
If you need assistance with these tasks, look into home care to help on a daily basis. You’ll soon find that simply dressing as if you’re going out in the world will make you feel more confident and may even lead to other activities outside the home. If you think you look good, chances are you’ll feel good, too!
3. Avoid Negative Stereotypes That Can Impact Self-Esteem
The media is filled with negative stereotypes surrounding old age. Daytime television is filled with advertisements about new medical drugs, life alert bracelets, and other health afflictions. The internet is a black hole of age-related diseases and physical challenges. Even the news can drive up your anxiety. It’s enough to put anyone into a state of depression.
Instead of surrounding yourself with the negative, make it a point to seek out the positive. Reading about all the things that can happen to you puts you on the alert and can manifest anxiety and feed low self-esteem. Stop comparing yourself to a page on the internet or even other elderly adults. Realize that aging isn’t a bad thing, it’s just where you are at the moment.
Pay attention to how your own body feels and focus on things you can do that bring you happiness. As you leave those negative stereotypes behind, you’ll find yourself making real progress in your self-esteem development.
4. Eat Healthy and Stay Active
When you make an effort to do the things that are good for you, you almost always feel better because of it. Taking care of yourself by eating good foods and exercising gives you a feeling of control and independence. People who maintain good self-esteem make their health a priority.
Regular physical exercise will help keep you strong, boosting your confidence. Take a balance class, practice tai chi, or take daily walks. Exercise doesn’t only work on your physical health, but also on your mental health. Movement releases endorphins that are essential to feeling good.
The fuel you put into your body can also make a difference in your confidence and self-esteem. Do a search for articles or read our blog with advice about healthy eating for senior citizens. Aging bodies benefit from different foods than young ones. Don’t let aging become an excuse for not doing what you can to take care of yourself. The better off you feel, the more confidence you’ll have to go out and enjoy your community.
5. Practice Independence Whenever Possible
One of the hardest hits seniors take to their self-esteem is no longer being able to do things for themselves, or take part in activities they once enjoyed. It can be very hard for the elderly to come to terms with needing help with cooking, cleaning, and yard work. But needing help with certain day-to-day tasks doesn’t have to be tied to your self-worth. If anything, getting help with these tasks could free you up to explore other interests you may not have had time for.
If you’re a caregiver, know that it’s important for loved ones to help their senior find a way to accept help while not losing their sense of self. They need to feel respected and appreciated by those around them. If daily help is required, professional caregivers may be easier for your loved one to accept as they don’t want to feel as if they are a burden to those they love.
People of all ages struggle with lower self-esteem, but getting older is not for the faint of heart. There are good days and bad days scattered throughout adulthood, but when we enter old age stereotypes tell us that it’s time to slow down. But aging doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a steady state of decline. It is entirely possible to live a healthy, independent life as we age. Make the most of your retirement! Take care of yourself, find new hobbies and activities, and get out into the world. The more time you spend on self-care and doing things that boost your confidence, the better you’ll feel about yourself.