Aging is a natural process which should be accepted with grace. One generally associates aging with accompanying health deterioration and problems. However, this all depends upon the personal lifestyle of a person as one can easily age with health and grace by keeping the well being of one’s body, mind and spirit intact. Given below are some tips or steps which would help you to age in a positive way without any fear of the dark shadows of health ailments.
The number one way you can improve the aging process is to take charge of your attitude. Your sense of hope, humor and confidence will determine the tone of your experience. You might be reading this thinking that having a good attitude is easier said than done. That would be true, but it is also true that your attitude is one thing you have full control over.
2. Friends and Social Involvement
Protecting and nurturing your emotional well being is as important, if not more important, than taking care of your physical body. Contact with others, whether it be at work, church activities, or family get-togethers, will feed your spirit and can provide purpose and meaning in your life. Further, social involvement can help combat loneliness and depression and keep you active physically. Helpguide’s sections on Grandparenting and Volunteer and Intergenerational Programs are just a few good places to start to find ideas on how to make friends and meet new people.
3. Civic/Community Involvement
Sharing your interests and passions with others will also help you keep your connection to the community strong, expose you to new people (of different ages), provide meaning and purpose, and challenge you mentally. Oftentimes, when you are busy thinking about others, it is much easier to put your own problems in perspective or forget about them altogether. Being involved with a cause that is important to you will also provide a constant reminder that you have a lot to offer. Seniors who are active, engaged and confident about their abilities generally feel better and live longer.
The importance of a balanced and healthy diet to healthy aging cannot be overstated. Eating well can make you feel and look better, help your body run more smoothly, ward off colds and sickness, and contribute to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels (which in turn help protect you against heart disease and stroke). On the most basic level, your eating habits should reflect a desire to give your body the fuel it needs to run efficiently. Fruit, vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats should make up your meals. Shedding any extra weight is especially important as you get older, a result which should be achieved with a sensible, balanced diet and regular exercise. Changes to your diet should reflect the changing needs of your body as an older person. Your doctor should be able to help you identify how your nutritional needs are different and how you can account for them.
Regular exercise is another cornerstone of healthy living as you age. As your body slows down, you might be tempted to skip the exercise because it is harder to do and you feel challenged physically. This is the wrong thing to do. The most important thing to remember about exercise as you get older is that it does not need to be strenuous, it just needs to be consistent. Regular physical activity will help your body function more effectively in many ways. It helps with weight loss and maintenance, combats anxiety and depression, keeps bones, muscles and joints working properly, relieves symptoms of arthritis and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some types of cancer. As you age, you might need to change the types of exercise you do, but anything that gets you moving is good. Walking, housework, gardening and even babysitting the grandchildren can count as exercise. Finding a way to build regular physical activity into your daily routine will yield great results. More information about the benefits of eating well and exercise can be found in Helpguide’s Healthy Eating and Senior Fitness sections.
6. Healthy Habits
Smoking and drinking are two big habits that can affect your health and the way you feel. Smoking, in particular, is one habit to quit if you haven’t already because it greatly increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Alcohol can be fine in moderation, but it also can contribute to sleep problems and suppress your appetite, preventing you from eating well. As you age, it is important to think about your lifestyle and identify habits which are helpful and harmful. Making a conscious effort to change the harmful habits will make your aging process more enjoyable.
Achieving quality sleep becomes more difficult for many people as they get older. On average, people aged 50 to 85 sleep about 6 hours per day. Over 50% of men and women over age 65 complain of at least one chronic sleep problem. Many people accept sleep difficulties as a fact of aging. It is true that as we get older, our sleep patterns change, but it is equally true that good restorative sleep is essential to our physical health and emotional well-being. Possible causes of poor nighttime sleep for older people abound. Sleeping poorly might be the cause of big changes in life, health issues, medication, stress or anxiety. Getting a good night’s rest becomes more difficult and can require you to be more conscious of your sleep environment and your sleep routine.
8. Mental Activity
Stimulating your mental faculties can significantly improve the aging process. Trying to keep active mentally can help you improve your memory and combat boredom. Simple and fun things like games and puzzles, reading or taking a new route to the store are easy ways to keep your mind active and engaged. Helpguide’s sections on Online Games and Improving Your Memory can help you with ideas on how to exercise your mind.
The process of healthy aging starts with being informed and staying active. Help guide’s excellent resources on the issues of nutrition, exercise, health and entertainment will help you make a start.