New Year's resolution: Make plans to challenge 'denial'


New Year's resolutions are in order - 'tis the season, right? Well, if you're like most of us, changing behavior is much more complicated than changing your mind or changing your bed linens.

What makes things even more difficult is that the older you are, the more comfortable you are in your daily routine. "Comfortable" can lead to laziness, which can have a detrimental effect on both your physical and mental health.

Seniors (let's define this as 80-plus years young), let's agree to initiate one "behavior resolution" in 2017. We're not going to focus on exercise or a healthy diet. We know that's a given, whether we like it or not.

What needs to be under the microscope is dealing with the emotion of denial.

All of us, at some time in our life, have been in a mental state of denial. We refuse to accept the reality of our own limitations, a by-product of aging. By doing so, we create conflict internally as well as with concerns of family members. Denial is not an easy emotion to resolve.

Ego, stubbornness, cognitive decline and a strong will are all behaviors that can cloud one's mental picture and continue to support a mindset that has morphed over time into something much different.

Acknowledging the compromised state of our own health is a difficult assessment to make public.

For those who can accept the hand they are dealt and move forward with the right perspective and positive attitude, the future (sans denial) will be happier and more productive.

Some of the most common denial behaviors I've witnessed over the years deal with lack of mobility, diminishing memory, inability to facilitate routine chores, and increased dependence on a spouse to help with daily living activities.

If we don't accommodate for these compromised behaviors, the likelihood of a loved one being put at risk increases exponentially. I've seen folks using a cane when they most definitely need a walker.

Their balance is marginal and they probably have fallen in the past, hence the cane. But the cane doesn't provide the same assistance when it comes to balance.

Put your ego on the shelf and use the walker. Do you know long it takes to rehab a crushed pelvis?

For those adult children who worry about mom or dad based on their current health situation, don't be an enabler and allow your parent(s) to be in denial.

It's time to have a heart-to-heart reality check and make a case for initiating different behavior. Their long-term health might depend on it.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head.

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