Aging isn’t necessarily anyone’s favorite topic to think or talk about. However, that doesn’t mean we can ignore it! in fact, beginning to think about and prepare for the realities of aging are one of your best strategies for aging well. I’m thankful to have known individuals who have shown me seniors can stay healthy and live happy, fulfilling lives. According to experts, here are some of the best ways seniors can stay healthy (and keep in mind, many of these are best practices we all should be starting today!).
Be preventative with your health by receiving regular checkups for general health, hearing, vision, and dental care. Sometimes the difference of catching a disease or deterioration before it gets too far and waiting until it’s progressed can be tremendous. Part of this includes knowing what screenings you need to be doing and staying on top of regular immunizations.
Shed unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking too much. While these things aren’t good for you at any age, the effects become more pronounced as you age. Work with your doctor and loved ones to find out the best ways to break any unhealthy habits you have.
Replace unhealthy habits with better ones. You’re probably tired of hearing about diet and exercise, but they really are the foundation stones to being healthy. Eating well can become a challenge for aging adults, especially if they live alone. Starting habits of cooking clean, nutritious food will keep you feeling better and give you a pre-established routine to keep. Exercise is crucial at any age, but really can help the elderly by preventing falls and helping maintain a healthy weight.
Manage stress well. Stress is highly detrimental to health. Focus on becoming more self-aware and learning some strategies that will help you manage stress better and keep it from aging you before your time.
Proactively improve mental function. Of course it’s impossible to completely predict or control memory loss, but there are things you can do to slow or even prevent age-related mental challenges. There’s quite a bit of research pointing to hobbies like crossword puzzles, language studies, and even learning something new that improve your mental functions.
Staying social may not be the first thing that comes to mind as a top way seniors can stay healthy, but it really is. Community involvement and interaction is one of the best ways to prevent depression.
I strongly recommend working with your doctor to determine what areas you should focus on. You could even consult your family or close friends and invite them into the process (hey, you might even inspire them to come up with their own healthy life plan!). And again, let me reiterate that these suggestions hold true for people of any age! The earlier you set healthy routines, the more likely you are to maintain them as you age.
A big part of the reason I’m so passionate about staying healthy is it’s the key to being able to stay independent longer. Aging in place is a dream for many Americans, but the biggest reason it becomes impossible for many people is they simply aren’t healthy enough to care for themselves. Think of it as an investment in your future!