Getting older doesn’t have to mean having a boring, filled with myriad of illnesses, poor quality of life. It certainly involves some changes in your body and in your life generally, which you may or may not expect and be ready for, but these shouldn’t be an obstacle for a well-balanced, happy and healthy life at older age. Perhaps you have not taken much care of your body or mind so far, but – better late than never -following these 10 tips on healthy aging will place you on the right path to get the most out of your 60+ or 70 +years.
1. Follow a Healthy Diet
Aging, the metabolism slows gradually and we do not need that much food. Many of us do not feel it and keep on eating just as much as while being younger and active-some even more. We usually have more time now and sometimes we fill it with nibbling. We generally tend to eat unhealthy food, even more so when we get older.
There’s such a wide choice of ready-made meals, which can be prepared in 15-20 minutes and, let’s face it, and we all became a little more comfortable than before.
A huge range of food and drinks containing lots of sugar offered everywhere makes us sometimes unaware of the quantity we consume. These, however can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, to mention only these. We should eat healthier food now more than ever, as our aging body finds it more difficult to remediate the consequences of such a wrong diet.
2. Be Physically Active
If you’ve been active since your younger years, this will come to you naturally. If you’ve been more or less inactive for the past decade or so, you should consider getting back to shape, as almost nothing can help you that much as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Not only will exercise keep you physically fit, but will contribute to your mental well-being, too.
If you can manage to stay fit enough, you’ll have your independence for much longer, allowing you to choose when and where you want to go, for example, and with whom, what you want to do and when, because you do not depend on someone’s help, even if that person is always here for you. Once you need to lean on someone’s help, you lose to a certain level your freedom of choices.
Regular exercise may also help relief from many common chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, to name only a few. Whatever activity you enjoy will do for a start, the point is not to give up, be regular and stay physically active. If needed, you can modify any activity to your level of fitness. Later you can adjust back or switch to a more challenging one.
3. Keep Challenging Your Brain
Ever wondered why some people stay sharp-minded even at a late stage of life while others seem to have lost much of their cognitive skills at an age of 65 or 70? While some decline comes as a part of aging, much of it can be avoided, or at least slowed down by constantly challenging your brain.
Reading a chapter in a book every day is a good way, if nothing more. Try to choose a book that will make you think. You can also try solving crosswords, riddles, word or jigsaw puzzles, quizzes, playing chess or card games. Anything that will keep your brain busy and working on a full steam.
Find something you can learn, like crocheting or making pottery, a new language or to play a musical instrument. If you are not very comfortable with computers yet, find a course for older adults, or ask a younger family member to teach you a bit. As long as your brain has to work for it, your mind has a chance to stay sharp. The much used expression-use it or lose it-goes for the brain, as well.
4. Make Sure You Have Enough Healthy Sleep
Sleep is vital for a good health at any age. The ability to restore energy levels and heal both physical and cognitive damage suffered during the day is considered the most important about it.
To help the body and mind to function the best they could, an 8 hours’ sleep is recommended. As we get older, however, some obstacles get in our way and it is not always easy to achieve this.
At an older age it is not uncommon to deal with a variety of health issues which can keep a person from falling asleep at the desired time or wake up a person after falling asleep.
In a previous post we discussed the aspects of a good sleep in details.
5. Maintain Your Relationships and Social Life
You might have heard that people who continue to maintain close friendships or interact socially in other ways, live longer than those who become isolated. As someone gets older, retires, moves to a new neighborhood, lose a spouse, or have considerable health issues, the opportunities and sometimes the will to socialize might decrease. Loneliness is easily developed that way.
Research has shown that social interaction offers older adults many benefits: reduced risk for mental health issues such as depression is one of them, and potentially reduced risks of cardiovascular problems, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and even Alzheimer’s disease are mentioned. Being continuously socially active and maintaining interpersonal relationships can help you maintain good physical and emotional health and cognitive function.
Be the pillar of the family in every way, be the one who will maintain close family relationships, visit regularly as long as you can. Your children might be even more happy to have you over then to come visit you. If you have grandchildren, make sure to be at every school play they are in or game they are playing. Schedule regular visits to other relatives and also meetings for a coffee with friends. Try to be the one reaching out to friends who might be lonely. Volunteer in a community you like. Close relations and a good social life will help keeping your brain from getting rusty. Even better if combined with a healthy lifestyle, nutritious diet and physical activity.
6. Avoid Stressful Situations
“It has been verified through scientific exploration that more than 80 percent of all diseases are due to stress and strain that originate in the mind and reflect on the body.”
– American Medical Association
This one quote says enough to make you want minimize the stress, as we can’t really avoid it completely.
As much as prevention (in a form of a healthy lifestyle, diet and physical activity) is, knowing what to do if stress occurs is also important. You’ll want to trigger the opposite of the stress response: the relaxation response, which helps lower blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones.
To defuse stress at the moment you feel it, try inhaling deeply, slowly, mentally counting 1–2–3–4, and then exhale slowly, silently counting 4–3–2–1. Repeat until you feel a slight relief. Count to 10 before you speak or react. Walk away from the situation for a while, and handle it later once things have calmed down.
Go for a walk, even if it’s just a short one inside the premises. It will snap the tension and give you a chance to calm down a bit. Break down big problems into smaller parts, you won’t feel that powerless confronted to smaller issues, and you’ll be able to resolve them one by one.
Replace your negative thoughts with the exact opposite positive ones. Listen to some calming music. Focus on helping someone else, to get distracted until you’ll have a chance for a more distanced view. Do some demanding physical activity, it will help you relieve the tension in your body from negative effects of a stressful situation.
7. An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure
Maybe not all of, but many accidents, illnesses, and common old age related health conditions are preventable.
Falls are the most common accident in an older adult life and the most possibly fatal ones. Adapt your home so that it suites your needs at this age, add helping equipment if needed. There are many spots where your attention might be needed. A previous post may help you complete this task.
Pay attention to your footwear, give up fashionable shoes and high heels if you do not feel absolutely safe in them anymore. Check your clothes, make sure they are comfortable, but not too wide so that they could got caught up on some hook, nail or in some gap, while moving.
To prevent illnesses, regularly check in with your doctor, get your blood pressure, heart, vision and hearing checked regularly, schedule a bone density check every two or three years.
If you haven’t yet, stop smoking. Also, or maybe at first place, lead a healthy life style.
8. Keep Your Medical Conditions Under Control
As many of health issues at old age are here to stay, we need to manage them the best we can. Therefore, it is important to check them regularly, to implement the treatment regime as prescribed by the specialist doctor. It is always a good idea to know as much about the illness as possible.
At the same time, resist the urge to read each and every article you can find on the internet about your condition. Chances are you’ll be more confused than before, partly because not all sources are trustworthy. Orientate more to official healthcare sites which are more reliable.
Thinking about the ways that your health can improve by changing your lifestyle, and making those changes can make all the difference. In a previous post we discussed control over existing health conditions.
9. Do Not Let Your Pride Stand in Your Way
…when it comes to assistive devices. Getting old is never easy to cope with. Admitting to ourselves is hard enough, let alone admit to the world we are getting old and can’t live so independently of help, as we used to. We usually do whatever we can to prolong the time of our independence and to postpone the moment of, what we mostly think, cruel truth. I’ve seen a lot of aged people struggling to prove they’re still young.
Starting using a cane, whether at home or publicly, is usually the first undeniable sign you are there, and perhaps that’s the reason many people are reluctant to do so. Some even ashamed. But, if a couple of decades ago it was somewhat embarrassing to use a stick of wood, so often a symbol of weakness, today they can even be a fashionable detail. And, if using one helps you maintain stability and balance while walking, isn’t it just something you should wish for?
10. Keep a Positive Attitude Towards Life Itself
Do not fill your days with negative thoughts, analyzing what’s not right and why, what went wrong where and when, wondering what bad effect it will or did have on your life. Focus on the good in and around you.
Embrace a positive view, know that there’s much ahead of you, whether you are going to live all those years in a self-pity, miserable, or with an always half full glass, breathing in all the scents, noticing all the colors and the melodies of life and world and enjoying each and every moment of it to the fullest – it’s your choice.
You can be the same cheerful, vibrant, fascinating, passionate, happy person you’ve been before – or haven’t, but can become now.
These are the ten most important ones, in my view. Surely we could go on with the list, but if someone is going to stick even only to these, I believe it will contribute to a healthier, happier aging life.
What do you think about it? Would you agree? Or would you suggest something else, or more? Do you have some experience already? Do share with us your thoughts, I’ll appreciate it and they’ll be helpful for someone…When you buy something from this website, I may receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here