10 Tips for Healthy Aging
August 23, 2021
In this Healthy Insight:
1. Challenge your mind
While some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, we now know that stimulating your brain through creativity and learning can slow down the process. This is especially true if you’re no longer challenged by your work or if you’re not working at all. Never stop learning!
Try a variation on what you already know. Take something you’re familiar with and try a new spin on it. If you like doing jigsaw puzzles, increase the number of pieces or assemble one with the pieces face down. If you’re a reader, pick up a new genre, like poetry. Like word find games? Try a crossword puzzle. Listen to a different type of music, jazz up a favorite recipe with new spices.
Do something new in each day. Take a different route to the grocery store, write notes with a different hand, download a new app you’ve been hearing about.
Learn something completely new. Learn to dance, play an instrument, tackle a foreign language, attend a lecture – the options are endless. Just about every community offers free or inexpensive classes at local colleges or libraries.
2. Nurture relationships
Throughout life you face changes, which come at an increasingly rapid pace with age. Retirement, health problems, loss of spouse, friends moving across the country – it’s inevitable that the older you get, the more loss you experience. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have an array of people you can turn to. It takes some effort, but it’s vital to nurture relationships to avoid isolation, loneliness and depression.
Stay connected with friends and family, especially after a significant life change. Schedule regular get-togethers for coffee, a meal, or if friends and family live out of town, call or email regularly. Take advantage of Skype, FaceTime or other social networks to maintain your connection.
Reach out to others who may be feeling lonely. Nothing makes you feel better than helping someone else through their difficulties.
Make new friends. As friends and family move or pass away, make a point of replenishing relationships. Try to befriend individuals younger than you. They’ll energize you and give you a fresh, perspective on things.
Spend time with at least one person every day. You shouldn’t be alone day after day. Phone or email contact is not a replacement for spending time with other people. Regular face-to-face contact helps you ward off depression and stay positive.
3. Connect with your community
Studies have shown that older adults who engage in meaningful activities in the community, feel healthier and happier.
Join a book club, volunteer at the local food bank, lead a neighborhood hike, give a talk at the library or school. Community involvement is a wonderful way to strengthen bonds, make friends and enrich the lives of others.
Find support groups in times of change. You’ll find support groups for just about everything, so it’s likely you’ll find others facing the same challenges, whether that’s health, relationships, lifestyle or something else. Check with your local hospital, library or town.
4. Learn to cope with change
Life is bittersweet, with periods of joy and difficulties. It’s important to be resilient and find productive ways to cope with life’s challenges in order to keep a healthy perspective.
Be grateful. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative things that happen, but be mindful of all the positives in your life. And it doesn’t have to be major events like winning the lottery. Maybe it’s as simple as a few kind words from the grocery store clerk or a cup of coffee with a friend. Take nothing for granted.
Express your feelings. Most of us dislike showing anger or sadness, but burying these feelings can lead to resentment, anxiety, stress and illness. We’d all like to be happy all the time or at least keep a stiff upper lip when we’re not, but it’s healthy to express your feelings. Don’t just sweep it under the rug. Talk with a trusted friend or professional to help you work things through.
Accept the things you can’t change. Many things in life are beyond your control. Instead of focusing on what you cannot control, focus on controlling how you choose to react to the problem.
5. Look for the lesson
When facing major challenges, think of them as a learning opportunity. What lesson can you take from this? How can you grow? Reflect on other challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them. Use that as encouragement to move forward.
Keep your sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine. It helps you transcend difficulties, stay on an even keel and keep a proper perspective. If you can’t think of anything to smile about, try watching a comedy act, funny movie or playing with a pet.
6. Get moving
It’s never too late to start! No matter how old you are or how unhealthy you’ve been in the past, caring for your body has enormous benefits that will help you stay active, sharpen your memory, boost your immune system, manage health problems and increase your energy.
Check with your doctor. Find out if any health conditions or medications you take affect the type of exercise you should choose.
Do something you enjoy. You’re more likely to continue an activity you find fun. And it doesn’t need to involve the gym. It can also be dancing, gardening, stretching, taking the stairs or strength training with weights.
Start slow. Begin with a few minutes a day and slowly increase time and intensity as you become stronger.
Go simple. Walking is a wonderful way to start an exercise regimen. It’s one of the best ways to stay fit and requires no new equipment or experience and you can do it anywhere.
Get a buddy. This keeps you motivated and you’ll enjoy the social aspect as well.
7. Get Your Beauty Rest
Did you know that humans can go longer without food than without sleep? Regardless of age, adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye each night. Lack of sleep affects mood, memory, and judgement, weight and more. Try essential oils like lavender to create a calm atmosphere conducive to sleep.
Stick to a schedule. Set a regular bedtime routine, like taking warm bath, meditating or listening to relaxing music. And, regardless of the day of the week or how well you slept the night before, maintain a strict bedtime schedule to keep your body in sync with your sleep-wake cycle.
Create a sleep-inducing environment. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and cool with no cell phone, laptop or TV on.
8. Eat healthy foods
Yes. We’ve all heard it before. Eat healthy. But before you dismiss this, just start with a couple of healthy items and build from there.
Eat fruits and veggies. Try adding one or two a day. Stick with the ones you enjoy and branch out when you’re ready.
Avoid sugary foods and refined carbs. Instead look for whole grains which give you energy and fill you up.
9. Practice prevention
An ounce of prevention can go a long way to keeping you healthy.
Wash your hands frequently. Always after using the restroom, before handling food and after you’ve been in public places.
Conduct a safety check. To prevent a fall, complete a home safety checklist, remove throw rugs, use assistive devices as recommended and wear appropriate footwear.
10. Keep up with doctor visits
Schedule an annual physical or whenever you have a concern. Bring a list of your current prescription and non-prescription medications.
Consider nutritional supplements. Millions of people take a daily multivitamin to keep their health in check. Today there are more options than ever, many for specific health concerns – vision, blood sugar, circulation. You might also want to consider a daily beauty care regimen to keep your skin supple, moisturized and wrinkle free. Find what works for you and stick with it for optimal results.
Don’t be overwhelmed by these tips. Start by adding one or two to your regular routine, reap the rewards and build from there. If you’re looking for a little extra push, check out some of our natural, anti-aging supplements and beauty care products here.