As we age, the feeling that we are in control of our lives often diminishes. There are many choices we make that don’t seem significant in our day-to-day lives until we lose the ability to make them on our own.
In addition, changes to our physical, mental, and emotional state can cause us to feel like we have lost our grip on our own lives.
Aging and Loss of Control
The first step to dealing with feelings of loss of control is to understand the factors that are contributing to that feeling.
Here are a few ways that aging is linked to a perceived loss of control:
Getting older is often accompanied by physiological changes that are not always preventable. Common issues include weakened bones, slowing of the metabolism, tooth enamel decay, reduced elasticity in the skin, heart conditions, and sensory loss.
These shifts in the body’s conditions can cause you to feel like you no longer have control over your own body.
Losing Friends and Family
The unfortunate reality of growing older is that you will most likely lose people you love at some point later in your life. Whether it’s a friend, spouse, or parent, losing someone you love is extremely difficult and can make you feel helpless.
Inability to Pursue Hobbies
Sometimes when you age, you are no longer able to take part in activities that you once loved. It may be too physically demanding, too expensive, or not considered acceptable for your age.
When you stop pursuing a passion, you can feel like you are missing something in your life and you don’t know how to fill in the gaps and find fulfillment elsewhere.
With age comes a greater risk of medical problems. Medical conditions can cause great feelings of distress as they are often unpredictable and out of your control.
Stress and Forgetfulness
As you age, regulating stress hormones becomes harder for the brain, so it can be much harder to manage feelings of stress effectively. Therefore, the older you get, the harder it is to manage stress.
Unfortunately, high levels of stress can also trigger a decline in the immune system and harm your hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory retrieval). This can often cause memory loss and increased feelings of frustration.
Feelings of loss of control are valid. Life is full of changes and having to adjust accordingly can be incredibly challenging. But while there are uncontrollables in life, there are also effective things that we can do to help manage these feelings and get a firm grip on the direction of our lives.
Effective Ways to Manage These Feelings
Studies have shown that having a high sense of control over your life, abilities, and options is associated with “being happy, healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
While some aspects of aging cannot be prevented, there are actions that we can take to increase control in our lives.
Here are a few important steps you can take to regain control in certain aspects of your life:
Maintaining a positive attitude can be difficult, but shifting your perspective can be the most important step you can make to feel more in control of your life.
If you look at changes as something everyone goes through rather than something happening to you, you will have an easier time adjusting to changes and overcoming adversity.
One way that you can begin to adopt a more positive outlook is to recognize that your feelings are valid, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel like this forever.
It is important to recognize that you are not alone in your efforts to regain a sense of control over your life and change your perspective.
Surrounding yourself with people will help you stay positive. This can be done via support groups, visiting public places, traveling somewhere new, trying a new hobby, or spending time with family and friends.
It is also important to seek professional resources and find a counselor you can talk to. Check in with your insurance provider to see what mental health services may be covered. If you have Medicare, you may be eligible for services such as psychotherapy, wellness visits, depression screenings, and other age-related services.
Exercise is important for all ages. Exercise has many benefits including weight control, chronic pain relief, better sleep, boosting the immune system, muscle loss stabilization, and improved balance and will help you feel more active and in control of your own body.
The World Health Organization reports that malnutrition is common for people aged 65 and over. It can lead to dizziness, muscle weakness, and weight loss. Malnutrition is often under-diagnosed because it is frequently thought to be associated with another illness.
Maintaining a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and taking supplements will help prevent malnutrition and allow you to feel healthy and fueled so you can pursue the things you love.
It is possible to combat brain deterioration through mental exercises. This may sound a bit silly, but learning something new, playing challenging brain games, or adding variation to your normal routine will stimulate your mind and allow you to stay sharp and alert in your life.
Being proactive in your awareness of age-related problems will give you a sense of control. Seeing your physician for age-appropriate screenings will help detect any upcoming problems and give you time to determine the best way to move forward.
As you grow older, you may feel worn out by feelings of loss of control as you age. If you feel this way now, know that you are not alone. You do not have to live a life that feels out of your grasp forever. There are many options for regaining or maintaining control of your life and employing them will lead to a happier and healthier well-being.
Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.
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Thank you Christian. This is a really helpful article. It helps to put things in perspective when relating to my aging mom (mother-in-law who I love and call mom).
I am so glad that this article was helpful. Care-taking of the ill and elderly is so very difficult work, and often unrecognized.
Peace to you and your mom