There is no getting away from the fact that, if we want to live a long life, we are going to encounter some changes along the way. This does not mean that we all need to prepare for numerous and complex medical problems or a gradually deteriorating quality of life, but we do need to be realistic about what we can expect. Aging can be a challenge, but with a proactive and positive attitude, there is no reason why the negatives need to outweigh the positives.
The first step in taking care of your health in old age is to understand what changes you can expect so you can adapt your lifestyle to minimize the problems you encounter. Here are seven tips to keep in mind as you age to help you lead a long, happy, and healthy life.
Stay physically active
Almost every part of the body becomes weaker as we age, but there are some problems that are more commonly found in older people. Bones lose density as we age, which makes them more brittle and, therefore, more easily broken. This can particularly affect the bones in the spine (vertebrae), which can lead to a loss of height and/or hunched posture. Osteoporosis is the name given to severe cases of brittle bone disease. The arteries in the body stiffen as we age, which can lead to high blood pressure, and fatty deposits (plaques) can build up, leading to blockages, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks.
To strengthen the body, help you to stay mobile, and reduce the physical effects of aging, it is important to stay physically active. Regular exercise has been found to be beneficial in preventing and managing a range of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure. Exercise can also be beneficial for our mental health, as it can improve our mood and cognitive functioning while reducing stress and anxiety. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (such as walking briskly or swimming) as well as muscle strengthening exercises.
Challenge your brain
The brain can begin to slow with age, and many people find they become more forgetful and struggle to take in new information or multitask. There are, of course, more serious conditions that affect the brain, such as dementia. Click here for early signs of dementia. To keep the brain functioning, it is important to exercise it with regular challenges. This could be as simple as reading new books or tackling brain teasers, or you could learn a new language or skill in your retirement. Everyday Health has some useful tips on keeping your brain sharp as you age.
Try to connect with others socially
Another way to keep the mind sharp and invest in your mental health is to maintain a social life and continue to connect with family and friends. Older people with a social circle are more likely to have better self-esteem and confidence, less likely to suffer from depression, and more likely to be physically active. Having a social life also opens the door to more varied and exciting experiences, which all contribute to a better quality of life.
It can be difficult for older people to maintain a connection with friends whose lives have moved in different directions or younger family members who are busy with their own families and careers. This is why so many older people choose to move into senior independent living communities where they can make friends and feel part of a community. Head over to https://www.belmontvillage.com/ to discover more about the benefits of living in Belmont Village Senior Living communities.
If you want to meet new people and add new friends to your circle, another option is to find volunteering opportunities in the community or to join a club or group of people with similar interests and hobbies.
Eat a nutritious and balanced diet
The digestive tract can slow in old age, which can cause constipation, pain, and nausea, and some medications can also interfere with the digestive system. To combat these problems, try to include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink a lot of fluid. It is also recommended that you do regular exercise and avoid stress where possible to keep the digestive system working at its best. To prevent heart disease, try to minimize the amount of saturated fat in your diet and instead incorporate more whole (unprocessed) foods and lean meats.
Of course, medical advice is always to reduce alcohol consumption and to stop smoking as soon as possible.
Attend all your medical appointments
Healthcare is improving all the time, and many serious conditions that were once critical can now be treated if caught early enough. The key is to not only keep an eye out for new symptoms but also to attend all your medical appointments for checkups. Older people with complex medical conditions can opt to see a geriatrician, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of older people.
When you are prescribed medication, you should stick to the doctor’s instructions in terms of how much to take but also when to take it. If you are not sure whether you should still be taking a certain medication or you are concerned that you are taking lots of different types, consult your doctor.
Get plenty of sleep (and stick to a routine)
People aged over 65 should try to sleep for 7-8 hours each night. Many people notice that their sleep pattern changes as they age, and they become tired earlier and are awake earlier the next day. If you are getting enough sleep and sticking to approximately the same routine each day, it does not matter when you sleep. However, if you are struggling with insomnia, it is important to seek help as a lack of sleep can be damaging to both your physical and mental health.
Take care of your teeth and gums
Teeth are protected by enamel, but as we age and put our teeth through years of wear and tear, this enamel weakens, which can lead to cavities. In addition, the nerves in the teeth become smaller as we age, which means we are less likely to seek help until the problem has become severe. Gum disease is also a common issue for older adults and can be linked to heart disease and diabetes. You should be brushing twice a day, flossing at night, cleaning dentures, and attending all your dental checkups.
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