Healthy Aging Part 1

The second half of your life can bring some of your most rewarding decades. You may be more confident than your younger self. You gain wisdom and patience. There are several things everyone can do to try and stay as healthy as possible as they age. Follow our tips below to help you flourish in your golden years:

  1. Maintain a healthy diet. The majority of adults in the US consume more than double the recommended daily allowance of sodium, which can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease; most of this high sodium intake comes from pre-packaged foods and restaurants.

  • Enjoy foods that are low sodium, high fiber, and low fat. Eat nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Avoid sweet, salty, and highly processed foods. Keep in mind that each person has different dietary needs, therefore, follow your doctor's suggestions regarding dietary restrictions

  1. Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Humans can go longer without food than without sleep. Older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults – seven to nine hours per night – but often get much less. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability, increased fall risk, and memory problems.

  • Develop a regular schedule with a bedtime routine. Keep your bedroom dark and noise-free— avoid watching television or surfing the internet while in bed. Stay away from caffeine late in the day.

  1. Correspond with your loved ones as much as possible. Twenty-eight percent of older adults live alone, and living alone is the strongest risk factor for loneliness. Common life changes in older adulthood, such as retirement, health issues, or the loss of a spouse, may lead to social isolation.

  • Maintain communication with your family and friends, especially after a significant loss or life change. Schedule regular time to meet with friends and family – over coffee, during a weekly shared meal, or around a common interest. Reach out to friends who might be isolated or feel lonely.

  1. Make community connections. Older adults who engage in meaningful community activities like volunteer work report feeling healthier and less depressed.

  • Join a planning committee, volunteer at a local nursing home, take a trip with friends, play cards at your local senior center, or join a book club. Remember that participating in activities should be fun, not stressful!

  1. Acknowledge and express your feelings. You may have a hard time showing emotions, perhaps feeling that such a display is inappropriate and weak. But burying your feelings can lead to anger, resentment, and depression. Don’t deny what you’re going through.

  • Find healthy ways to process your feelings, perhaps by talking with a close friend or writing in a journal.

  1. Take care of your eyes and teeth. Starting at the age of 40, getting an annual eye exam with an ophthalmologist even if you have no vision problems. During a comprehensive dilated eye exam your eye doctor will check for signs of cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, along with other eye conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment helps to prevent vision loss and is instrumental in enjoying life into the ages. As for teeth, the tough enamel that protects your teeth from decay can start to wear away over the years, leaving you susceptible to cavities. Gum disease is also a concern for older adults.

  • Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses or a hat when outside. Reduce eye strain by taking breaks from reading or looking at your phone or computer. Good dental hygiene can protect your teeth and gums. Brush and floss.

  1. Don’t smoke, and limit caffeine and alcohol. Tobacco kills. It harms almost every organ in your body. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other products with nicotine cause heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease, and many other health problems. As a stimulant, caffeine revs up the nervous system. This can lead to jittery nerves, stomach upset and heartburn. Excessive consumption has also been known to cause increased blood pressure, reduced bone strength, anxiety, and sleeplessness. Certain health problems are common in older adults that drink alcohol heavily. These can include diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, liver problems, osteoporosis, memory problems, and mood disorders.

  • It’s never too late to quit smoking. Your body begins to heal within 20 minutes of your last cigarette. Your chance of a heart attack goes down right away. In a year, your odds of heart disease drop by half. You’ll also live longer. Ask your doctor for help.

  1. Ask for help when you need it, and don’t feel embarrassed for asking. Reach out to family or friends for help. Express your concerns and needs. Look for community resources.

  • Your doctor can assist you with healthcare resources such as home health, hospice, or physical rehabilitation. Reach out to local seniors for assistance with meals, housekeeping, and other needs.

Source: http://www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/aging_resource_center/ten_tips_healthy_aging.html

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