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11.06.20 | Health & Wellness

Self Care for Seniors: What Is It, and How to Take Part

Have you heard of the latest millennial craze, self care? Young people all over are encouraging each other to get off of social media for a day, or to order in for the night and binge their favorite TV show, all things they’ve dubbed as acts of self care. 

While these acts may seem frivolous on the surface, they’re actually helping people to take a break from the media cycle, or to celebrate moments of rest. Self care, by definition, encourages people to consciously tend to their own well-being. But most surprisingly of all, this “new trend” isn’t new at all — in fact, it has deep roots and history in the medical field.

A Brief History

Self care began as a treatment course in the 1950s for patients who were mentally ill or elderly and struggled with autonomy. It included acts that helped preserve physical independence, such as simple exercising or personal grooming. This independence opened up the gateway for feeling better in many ways — physically, because patients were able to care for themselves, but also mentally, because independence was rewarding and satisfying.

From the mid 1960s to early 1970s, academics continued to pursue the idea further and how it might pertain to those in high risk professions, such as EMTs and social workers. The idea was that, in order to tend to your responsibilities to others, you need to first take care of yourself and replenish regularly through acts of self care. As Sage Collective’s own Rear Admiral (ret.) James M. Galloway said, “Taking care of yourself ensures you can take your best care of others.”

In the civil rights and feminist movements that followed this time, self care also become a revolutionary and radical act against varied forms of injustice, medical and otherwise. 

Self Care for Seniors Today

So how can seniors reclaim self care, and share in the joy that millennials have found? Our best advice: find what replenishes you, whether it’s physically, mentally or both.

When it comes to your physical health, incorporating moderate, regular physical activity will help replenish not just your body, but your spirit and your energy. Physical acts also include making conscious decisions to eat healthier, to get ample rest each night and to take time to relax. 

As for mental health, experts recommend spending more time in nature to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy natural sunlight. You can also reconnect with a new hobby, or even discover a new one. Dedicating time to activities that you enjoy and find satisfaction in is a great way to embrace the practice, too. And of course: spending time with those you love will always provide a much needed mental boost. 

So don’t be afraid of the trend — self care is for everyone. 

Self care expressed through love, with an older African American man and woman embracing and smiling
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