Growing old has a terrible publicist. Advertisements, social media posts, and television celebrate youth. Younger people get ads about sports drinks and beer featuring glistening bodies and endless fun. Seniors are treated to a steady diet of medical remedies, often featuring older actors awkwardly holding hands while a voiceover warns about 213 side effects. Yet aging with grace is possible. There are ways to improve your appearance without surgery or huge expense. There are also techniques that go even deeper –– ways of living that can extend your happy, productive years. Because true beauty is actually deeper than your skin.
Your Future’s Bright; Wear Sunscreen
Although marketers are focused on young people, there are more older people than ever before. In the United States by 2035, nearly 80 million people will be over age 65 while 76 million will be under 18. For the first time in the country’s history, adults will outnumber children. According to the United Nations, “globally, the population aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups.” The secret to aging gracefully isn’t living longer. It’s living better.
Life takes its toll on our skin. The sun’s burning rays, the dry winter air, even our anger and disappointments all lay siege to our face. No matter what mistakes we’ve made, it’s possible to begin correcting them today. Start with the most obvious: sunscreen. Beauty products like moisturizers often offer sun protection. A regular regimen makes all the difference. Apply a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, whether or not you leave the house that day –– no matter the season or the weather. That overcast sky could shift to bright afternoon rays. Skipping your SPF routine just once can damage your skin. For light-skinned people, one study concluded that 80% of facial aging signs like wrinkles and sagging skin are because of the sun. Have you ever been accused of being thin-skinned? Blame that yellow orb in the sky. Turns out sunshine can actually cause thinning in the outer layer of skin. It tends to be worst on hands and arms, in addition to your face –– the most exposed places. So, if you’re concerned about aging with grace start by applying sunscreen liberally and regularly, since using it daily has been medically proven to reduce wrinkles and other visible signs of aging.
Face Your Face
Collagen production begins declining by one percent per year once we turn 20. Worse, as we grow older it becomes irregular and disorganized. Research into a variety of supplements and creams has demonstrated that there are ways to undo or prevent some of the damage. Antioxidants –– including vitamins and plant compounds called polyphenols –– actually reduce collagen degradation. Creams or lotions containing retinols can increase your body’s production of collagen, while creams containing the protein itself can also reduce visible signs of aging. Vitamin C and E may also improve your skin either as supplements or in lotions. Microneedling or facial acupuncture can increase the production of collagen and other healing factors by causing “positive microtraumas”.
Did you know there are even facial exercises that can help you in your quest for aging grace? Foga sounds like faux yoga, but facial yoga is gaining converts while one recent study showed that just half an hour of daily or alternate-day facial exercise programs improved many of the women’s appearances after just four months. It can also help relieve tension, especially when combined with some actual, you know, yoga.
Studying a group of nuns, author and Alzheimer’s expert Dr. David Snowdon came to believe that developing childhood linguistic ability could protect against the disease while one’s attitude, faith, and community can improve longevity. Snowdon and other researchers are focused on living our best lives no matter their length. Complimenting his book Aging with Grace, Catherine Roland Ed.D. believes aging with grace is about more than creams and procedures. It’s about an internal energy that starts with Gratitude and ends with Education. Roland’s acronym includes Resilience, Attitude and Courage.
Incorporating this practice into your life can pay dividends. Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot recently spoke of how when she awakens each morning, she says “modeh ani” which basically means “I give thanks.” Studies on daily gratitude show that it improves well-being and overall happiness. Being grateful for the little things can not only help with longevity but may be one of the great secrets of aging with grace.
- Aging U.S. population: meeting mental health needs.
- Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin.
- Sunscreen and prevention of skin aging: a randomized trial.
- Skin anti-aging strategies.
- Polyphenols and recombinant protein activated collagen scaffold enhance angiogenesis and bone regeneration in rat critical-sized mandible defect.
- Association of facial exercise with the appearance of aging.
John Bankston is a published author of over 150 nonfiction books for children and young adults including biographies of Jonas Salk, Gerhard Domak, and Frederick Banting.