Did you know that September is Healthy Aging Month? Living a long life is certainly a gift, but to make the most of it, it’s important to stay in good health. Healthy Aging Month is a great opportunity to educate yourself on things you can start doing today to ensure your later years are not just more numerous but lived healthfully! According to data released by the U.S Census Bureau in June, the American population is becoming increasingly older. Since 2010, the population of citizens aged 65 and older has increased by 12,159,974 people, making up about 16% of the total U.S. population! This emphasizes the importance of taking care of ourselves as we enter these golden years to make sure we enjoy a long and healthy life!
Here are our top 7 tips to ensuring your years add up to quality ones:
- Live an Active Life
Regular exercise and activity can help maintain a healthy body and brain. Exercise builds strength and improves balance, which can help prevent injuries and falls as we age.
What is the best type of physical activity? The answer to that is whichever one you will enjoy! Whether it be walking, biking or swimming, regular physical activity can you help you maintain your independence. Regular exercise can also provide relief and sometimes even help to prevent chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and depression. Consult with your doctor on what activities work best for you and get moving!
- Stay social
Living alone is one of the strongest risk factors for loneliness. This makes it that much more important to maintain communication with family, friends and loved ones. Take a class, volunteer, play games, see old friends, and make new ones. Schedule regular time to meet with those you care about. Older adults who engage in meaningful community activities report feeling healthier and more energized.
- Eat a rainbow!
Eat nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole-grains. “Eat a rainbow” is a simple way of reminding yourself that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables will get you the vitamins and minerals you need! Consuming beans and other high-fiber foods are great for digestive and heart health. Consult with your doctor regarding specific dietary restrictions depending your medical history.
- Reduce Stress and Stay Balanced
We can all agree that although we may not be able to avoid stress, we can learn better strategies and techniques to cope with it. Stress in our lives tends to cause a vicious cycle and can lead to memory loss, fatigue and reduced function of the immune system. How do you take care of yourself when you are stressed? Meditation and mindfulness techniques have been proven to help people cope with stress and find balance in their lives. Sleeping, exercising, socializing and eating nutrient dense foods are also great places to start.
- Get Enough Sleep
Did you know that lack of sleep can cause memory impairment, depression and increased risk for falls? Getting adequate and good quality sleep is so important! Older adults require approximately 7-9 hours each night but often get much less. Some simple tips for getting the sleep you need include setting a sleep schedule, avoiding artificial light from phones and computers prior to bed, monitoring your caffeine intake during the day and eating dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Manage Your Medications
Taking a lot of medications and supplements can cause side effects and problems. Be sure to take all medications only as directed and alert your healthcare provider if you experience side effects. It is important that you and/or your caregiver know every medication and supplement you are taking. We recommend you keep a list of in your wallet and take this with you every time you see your healthcare provider.
- Practice Prevention
Many accidents and illnesses that occur as we get older are preventable and some simple tips can help to keep you healthy.
- Wash your hands frequently to prevent illness, particularly when handling food and after restroom use.
- Make sure you are up to date on all immunizations including influenza, pneumonia and shingles.
- Get your vision and hearing checked at least annually.
- Wear appropriate footwear and perform balance activities regularly to prevent falls.
For more information and resources on healthy aging, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/aging/healthy-aging/index.html.