Posted on September 18 2018
Aging is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be dreadful. Aging is part of the natural course of life. Wrinkles are the price we pay for the smiles shared throughout the years, the belly laughs expressed with those near and dear to us, the hard work we've given for ourselves, our friends, and our families, and those wrinkles are a sign that we have simply lived and loved each moment of our precious lives.
As we grow older, so do our bodies. Our metabolisms begin to slow down, we feel aches and pains in joints that we haven't felt before, and unfortunately, sometimes hereditary ailments begin to creep in on us. But, there's good news! Aging doesn't mean that you still can't enjoy life! By making careful, healthy decisions, you can still live life to the fullest while aging in grace.
We have put together a list of ways that you can remain healthy, including some simple tips and tricks to make your life easier!
Nine Tips for Healthy Aging
1. Live Active
Regular activity and fitness is key to one's physical and mental wellbeing. Living an active lifestyle will help you to stay healthy enough to maintain your independence to travel, to run daily errands, and to simply perform your own activities. Regular exercise may even prevent or provide relief from many common conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and arthritis. Exercise may not always be fun, but the key is to do something you will enjoy. If you need help with ideas, consult your doctor or nutritionist, and get going!
2. Eat Healthy
Did you know that the majority of adults in the United States consume more than double the recommended daily allowance of sodium? That can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease. To combat this, be sure to eat nutrient dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sweet, salty, and highly processed foods. Of course, consulting a doctor and nutritionist is always best, as everyone has different dietary needs and restrictions.
3. Reduce Stress
As we age, our stressors can change, and so can our ability to cope and manage stress. Long term stress can damage brain cells and lead to depression. Stress may also cause memory loss, fatigue, and decreased ability to ward off and recover from infections. Studies show that more than 90% of illness is either caused or complicated by stress! Although we can't entirely avoid stressful situations, we can learn better coping mechanisms for it. When you are stressed, be sure to give yourself a lot of self care. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat healthy, talk to a loved one or counselor, try yoga, meditation, or other relaxation methods. Lastly, remember to always keep things in perspective by accepting and adapting to the things you can't control.
4. Get Enough Sleep
It's important to remember that older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults. In fact, all adults are recommended to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but many often get much less. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability, and memory problems. Develop a regular schedule or a bedtime routine. Keep your bedroom dark and noise free. Turn off the television and put your phone away about an hour before bedtime to let your brain relax. Also important, avoid caffeine late in the day.
5. Brain Health
Unfortunately, one in eight adults ages 65 or older suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, and other cognitive memory problems. While it is difficult to prevent Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of Dementia, there are certain things you can do to slow cognitive decline. For example, keep your brain active! It's just as important to receive mental stimulation as it is physical. Never stop learning and challenging your mind. Take up a new hobby, read books, paint, learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, and the list goes on! Be sure to receive the adequate amount of nutrition, as certain vitamins and minerals will stimulate your brain as well.
6. Cultivate Relationships
28% of older adults live alone, and living alone is the strongest risk factor for loneliness. Common life changes in older adulthood, such as retirement, health issues, or the loss of a spouse may lead to social isolation. During these times, it's important to maintain communication with your family and friends. Schedule regular times to meet with them. Reach out to other friends who may also feel isolated or lonely.
7. Make Community Connections
Older adults who engage in meaningful community activities, such as volunteer work, report feeling healthier and see a significant decrease in depression. Join a planning committee, volunteer, take a trip with friends or family, join a senior center or book club. Participate in fun activities that relax you, not stress you!
Many accidents, illnesses, and health care conditions, such as falls, chronic illness, depression, and frailty are preventable. To prevent unnecessary illness, get a yearly flu vaccination, wash your hands after using the restroom and before handling food. To prevent a fall, use assistive devices (canes, walkers, wheelchairs), if needed, wear appropriate footwear, get your vision checked, take vitamin D and calcium, and include exercise into your daily routine.
9. Take Charge
Participate in your own health care. Think about the ways that your health can improve by changing your lifestyle, and make those changes. You are your own best advocate. Contact your primary care physician to obtain an annual physical. Whenever you have concerns about your health, see a doctor. Bring a list of your current prescription and non-prescription medications, including any herbal supplements, and keep a list of your health concerns. Ask questions, and most important, if you are not satisfied, get a second opinion! You hold the key to your health care!