Helpful Tips for Aging Well
With our expanding schedules and increasing commitments, it can be easy to let wellness fall to the side. But as we age, it is vital that we take an active role in our aging process. We cannot undo all of the “sins” of our younger years, but now is the time to make your health and wellness a priority. There are lots of tips for aging well that you can follow.
The good news is that research shows aging does not have to be met with decline in activity, fatigue, or pain. Instead, many aspects of aging bring about greater health, satisfaction and joy.
We've put together these eight different tips for aging well that will help improve your health and wellness as you age:
Take a Health Assessment
The first step in taking control of your health is to assess your current status, so you can establish a baseline from which to improve. Write down all of your own diagnoses and conditions, and write down the conditions that run in your family. Next write down all of your current medications. Finally, write down all of the health care professionals you see (primary care physician, cardiologist, neurologist, physical therapist, optometrist etc.). When was the last time you saw them and for what?
If you're overdue for a checkup, now is the time to book it.
See Your Primary Care Physician
It is important to have regular physical examinations in order to monitor your health and prevent or manage future disease. If you have not seen your primary care physician in a while, schedule a wellness exam. At this time you can have your blood work assessed.
If you see a specialist for anything (cardiologist, neurologist etc.), schedule an appointment to assess your current medical condition. If you are concerned about your balance or strength, seek out your physical therapist for a functional mobility assessment.
Assess your medication list. Do you know the purpose of each of your medications? When is the last time that you had your medications reviewed by your physician?
Bring your medication list to your primary care physician visit and ask questions. If you improved your weight or increased your exercise level, would you be able to modify some of your medication intake? Booking follow-ups to address questions like this is often a good idea.
Weight and Nutrition
Dust off your scale and get on. Write down your weight. How does your weight compare to your ideal weight? Unfortunately, in America over 60% of people are overweight or obese. Carrying excess weight places extra stress on joints, which can increase the pain of arthritis.
In addition, being overweight is associated with metabolic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If your weight is not where it should be, consider speaking to your physician or other healthcare professional about an appropriate weight loss plan. A successful strategy that can help in weight management is tracking your food intake. Write down everything you put in your mouth every day for one week. Then you can assess the quality and quantity of your diet and make adjustments as appropriate.
Fuel your body appropriately and with the best food that you can. If you want to feel good, improve your immunity and optimize your bodily functions, then your body needs proper nutrition. Avoid excess alcohol, sugar, high cholesterol, and processed foods. By consuming these foods, you are stressing your liver, pancreas and insulin response, which zaps energy and leads to fat accumulation. Instead, give your body heart-healthy fats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, proper protein, whole grain carbohydrates and plenty of water.
Activity Level and Exercise
What is your activity level? Do you participate in exercise regularly? According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is recommended that adults 65 years and older get 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week and do muscle strengthening exercises on at least two days per week.
Assess your rate of activity in a given day and determine if you are too sedentary. If so, where can you increase your physical activity in a safe and effective manner? If 150 minutes a week sounds daunting, start with 10 minutes a day, and build your activity from there. Supervised exercise classes are an excellent option to get started.
Research has shown time and again that exercise reduces the risk of many diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. In addition, new research shows that regular exercise leads to increased neurological connections, reducing the risk of progressive neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s down the road. Plus, exercise releases neurotransmitters, which make you feel great overall. Of course, exercise also leads to healthy bodies, defined muscles and improved self-esteem.
As we age, it is vital to build strength through resisted strengthening exercises in order to have the functional strength to stay independent, as well as maintaining and improving our balance systems to avoid falls and potential injury. Balance can be improved with dance, tai chi, yoga, group classes, and individualized physical therapy.
Share Your Goals and Stay Social
Research shows that people who share their wellness goals with others have better successes and outcomes than those that go at it alone. Share your health and wellness goals with loved ones for increased accountability and increased motivation.
People who engage socially and maintain connections with a support system live a happier life with decreased episodes of depression. Connect with others, stay involved in your community and see friends and family often.
Challenge Your Mind
Learn a new skill such as music, language or art. Read often and challenge your critical thinking. Allow yourself to be challenged by your grandchildren, technology, a book club or even crossword puzzles.
By challenging your brain function, you will build new neurologic connections, reducing your risk of memory related disease later in life.
People with an optimistic outlook on life are shown to life longer, healthier lives. People with a pessimistic outlook have higher rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness. It is important to stay positive and keep a happy zest for life.
Some last tips for aging well: try to find the good in each day, surround yourself with positivity and try to reduce the negative forces in your life.