Strategies for Healthy Aging
Engage your mind and spirit. Stay sharp and mentally enriched by reading and writing, doing puzzles and playing games, taking classes at a community college or online, engaging in arts and crafts, playing and listening to music and traveling — even if just taking short day trips. Seeing and experiencing new things can make you feel youthful. Immersing yourself in a hobby and engaging in lifelong learning not only can help you stay young at heart but can help you remain mentally and physically healthy, too.
Focus on good nutrition. Make sure your diet includes lots of fresh, nutritionally rich foods and go easy on junk food and fast food. With the advice of your healthcare provider, take supplements to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals in your diet. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water and other healthy drinks.
Keep moving. In the spirit of the old adage “move it or lose it,” staying physically active can do wonders for your overall health. In addition to building strong bones and muscles to help prevent falls, exercise helps your cardiovascular health and staves off depression. Find types of physical activity that keep you interested and motivate you to make movement, stretching and strengthening a daily habit. Consider joining a health club or find a buddy to enjoy walks or other exercise with indoors and outside in the fresh air.
Make check-ups a priority. Key to keeping illness and physical problems at bay is having regular screenings and check-ups from healthcare providers. In addition to in-person visits, telehealth consultations by phone or video chat are a good option. If and when a physical or mental health change occurs, don’t assume it’s “just part of aging” – get checked out. Symptoms can be signs of treatable illnesses especially when addressed early. Changes with vision and hearing are a common part of growing older but can often be helped easily with the right prescription of glasses or the appropriate hearing aid. Because vision and hearing problems can be signs of other health issues and can also affect your balance, make these check-ups a priority. Dental care becomes more important especially as we age because it can impact our eating and can also affect our heart health. Be sure to take good care of your teeth and see your dentist regularly. If you find yourself dealing with depression, substance abuse or other mental health challenges, don’t delay seeking professional help.
Stay socially connected. Make a concerted effort to keep up with friends and loved ones through regular phone calls, emails, social media platforms like Facebook and in-person visits inside and outside your home. Join recreational clubs where you can make new acquaintances as well as get involved with new activities and interests. Volunteer your time – by doing so, you’ll not only experience the joy of giving back and having a purpose but you’ll also have opportunities to interact with others.
Combine healthy activities for even more impact. Simultaneously participating in healthy practices gives you even more benefit than just doing them individually. For example, playing an intellectually challenging game with a friend is better than simply doing so alone because you get the perks that come from socializing in addition to flexing your brain muscles. By combining a mentally challenging game with others with physical exercise, too, you reap a positive powerhouse of benefits for your mind, body and spirit.