As difficult as it might seem, it is possible to remain in tip-top shape even as you grow older only by making the right lifestyle choices. The aging process doesn’t inevitably have to be a rollercoaster of declining physical, cognitive, and mental health.
In the same way, it doesn’t always have to be a series of illnesses and social isolation; it all just depends on how you go about your health and how careful you are with your choices.
Aging better is not just about living longer; your goal is to live happier, healthier, and be more content overall. While there will be inevitable changes in your physical health, social relationships, and responsibilities, the aim is not to let them negatively affect your well-being.
Making the right health choices is essential at every stage in life, and it is equally, if not more, applicable to old age.
If you haven’t been working towards this end so far, it is never too late. Even minor changes in your routine can have a tremendous positive impact on your health; the following are some reliable and tested tips for seniors:
1. Stay up to date about your medical health
As you grow older, there is an expected decline in your immune system strength, which can sometimes make even minor infections like flu or pneumonia alarming. It is recommended that senior citizens get annual flu shots and vaccination for pneumonia.
As the bones lose strength and your body’s metabolism slows down, the risk of some problems like osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity increases. A good idea would be to go for frequent medical check-ups to catch such issues in time.
Most veterans develop heart disease, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic conditions that can be fatal, including terminal illnesses (like Mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure).
In these circumstances, gathering as much information as possible about the prognosis, treatment plans, outcomes, and preventive measures would be best.
Also, remember to be regular in your annual physical check-ups because conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure might go unnoticed until the situation worsens. Regular exams are crucial in detecting and treating such problems in time.
2. Take the necessary supplements
As discussed earlier, your immune system gets weaker with age, and certain deficiencies become more likely. Dietary supplements, but only under a doctor’s prescription, can help overcome such shortcomings and strengthen your immune system.
While it is true that a healthy diet can give you all the nutrients you need, some people are not able to get enough vitamins and minerals from their dietary intake.
For instance, bone strength might decline with age, and calcium supplements become necessary. Similarly, vitamin D supplements might be needed if your diet includes an insufficient amount of dairy products, as with most Americans.
3. Stay active and physically fit
As activity levels and energy decline with age, staying in bed doing nothing is also typical in most seniors. Remember not to give up on physical activity because staying on your feet is crucial to maintaining bone and joint health.
It is a common misperception that only a tiring and strenuous workout in the gym is beneficial if you wish to stay fit. Other low-intensity and fun activities like biking, walking, jogging, or aerobics are also sufficient.
An active lifestyle with simple choices like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can have a tremendous positive impact on your overall well-being.
You can benefit from routine workouts that promote muscle strength and flexibility if you are a fitness enthusiast. The recommended amount of physical activity for adults over 65 is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity daily workouts.
4. Focus on your mental health
A sound mind is a sound body; your mental health is as important as your physical well-being and needs equal attention. Just as it can get challenging to adapt to the physical changes with age, your mental well-being can be affected if you cannot cope well with aging.
Remember not to isolate yourself, socialize, practice hobbies you enjoy, and make time for mindful meditation. Mindful exercises are super beneficial for all ages; they help you regain and improve focus, enhance memory, release stress, improve emotional responses, lower blood pressure, and even boost your immune system.
Some mindful activities you can practice include meditation, tai chi, deep breathing, or yoga. Another critical tool to help cope well with the process of aging is to accept reality and acknowledge the changes.
5. Work on your sleep hygiene
Age usually has a negative toll on your sleeping pattern; you might feel sleepy earlier than usual, unable to sleep through the night, wake up earlier than needed, or fail to go into a deep, relaxing sleep cycle.
You need a good night’s sleep to function well during the day and improve your memory and concentration. When asleep, the body repairs itself and boosts the immune system.
To improve your sleep quality, identify the underlying causes of insomnia, lower stress levels, adopt healthy sleep practices, and include exercise in your daily routine. The ideal sleep practice is to sleep in a quiet, dark, and cool place, establish a fixed sleep schedule, avoid napping during the day, and steer clear of sleeping pills.
6. Stay hydrated
One crucial diet component is water, which becomes necessary as you age. Your body’s ability to regulate temperature declines with age, especially when sweating during exercise. As a result, to prevent dehydration, you need to consume more water.
Research has shown that in 2015, 37% of adults aged 65 or older suffered dehydration and had to be taken to emergency rooms. To keep yourself hydrated, save water by your bedside and sip on it throughout the day, consume low-fat soups, drink a full glass whenever you take a pill, and most importantly, avoid alcohol.
Although a fluid, alcohol certainly doesn’t count as liquid content in your diet. It can put all your efforts into staying hydrated to waste as it is a dehydrating agent. As a diuretic, alcohol causes your body to remove water through the renal system quicker than usual.
Your lifestyle choices significantly impact your physical, emotional, and mental well-being at all stages in life; the same is true for old age. To age well and maintain good health, monitor your medical condition, take nutrient supplements when needed, stay active, work on your mental health, monitor your sleep hygiene, and drink plenty of fluids. It is natural to fear the process of aging but remember that the right lifestyle choices can always keep you safe from changes that you, right now, feel are inevitable.