Healthy Aging Part 2
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:
Connect with your spiritual self. Pray or meditate daily. Research shows that people who meditate and/or pray, or have a spiritual practice also have positive brain changes.
Connecting with your spiritual self can be as simple as starting your day with affirmations of gratitude or working in your garden.
Practice prevention. Many accidents, illnesses, and common geriatric health care conditions, such as falls, chronic illness, depression, and frailty, are preventable.
To prevent illness, see your physician regularly, get a yearly flu vaccine and wash your hands after using the restroom and before handling food. To prevent a fall, complete a home safety checklist, use assistive devices, wear appropriate footwear, get your vision checked, take vitamin D and calcium, and get some form of exercises into your routine.
Stay optimistic. Life tests us in many ways. When you choose to be optimistic and grateful, your mind and body respond. People with a positive outlook live longer and have fewer heart attacks and depression than more negative people. You can learn to be optimistic. It just takes time and practice.
Smile, even fake smile. It can help lower stress. Spin your thoughts to the good things instead of dwelling on the bad. Keep a gratitude journal. Do good things for others. Surround yourself with people who boost your spirits. Accept things you can’t change.
Manage your stress. As we age, our stressors change and so does our ability to deal with stress. Long-term stress can damage brain cells and lead to depression. Stress may also cause memory loss, fatigue, and decreased ability to fight off and recover from infection. In fact, it is estimated that more than 90% of illness is either caused or complicated by stress.
We cannot entirely avoid stressful situations, but we can learn better techniques to cope with stress. Take care of yourself when you are stressed by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating nutritious foods. Talk to a loved one or counselor about your stress, and try some relaxation techniques, such as circular breathing, yoga, or meditation. Remember to always keep things in perspective – try to accept and adapt to the things you cannot control.
Live an active life. Regular exercise is one of the greatest keys to physical and mental wellbeing. Living an active life will help you stay fit enough to maintain your independence to go where you want to and perform your own activities.
Regular exercise may prevent or even provide relief from many common chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, depression, and arthritis, to name a few.
Keep your mind active and maintain your brain. According to research, one in eight older adults (aged 65+) in the United States has Alzheimer's disease, and some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. Studies have shown that a lifestyle that includes cognitive stimulation through active learning slows cognitive decline.
Never stop learning and challenging your mind! Take dance lessons, learn a new language, attend lectures at a local university, learn to play a musical instrument, or read a book.
Look for the humor in your daily life; share it with others. Laughter really is great medicine because it’s a natural stress reducer. Laughing releases chemicals in our bodies that can drive away pain and fear, two emotions usually associated with aging, so laugh often.
If you have to, buy a laugh: Rent a movie.
Set aside a regular time of day for relaxation. Life gets busy. Carve out time just for you every day — even if it's only a few minutes.
Do something you enjoy or that feels relaxing and satisfying. Maybe it's meditating, an early morning walk, or a cup of tea and a crossword puzzle. Do whatever feels good and helps you de-stress.