By Karen Weeks, ElderWellness.net
Growing older has long been associated with a decline in health. However, new research shows that failing health isn’t an inevitability of advanced age. With the right lifestyle choices, you can prevent many of the problems associated with aging and enjoy healthier, more vibrant senior years.
Do you want to beat age-related decline and protect your health into your 70s, 80s, and beyond? If so, these five practices are the best place to start.
1. Keep up with preventive care.
Early detection improves outcomes for nearly every disease. Instead of putting off health care for fear of what you might discover, make a habit of seeing your doctor on a regular basis. Schedule annual checkups even if you feel healthy and don’t wait to call your doctor if your health changes.
Medicare keeps preventive care affordable for older adults with no-cost preventive health services including annual wellness visits, vaccinations, and health screenings. Depending on health history, Medicare may cover additional screenings and services according to doctor recommendations.
2. Make a habit of healthy eating.
Nutrition can fall by the wayside when you’re no longer cooking for a family. However, you shouldn’t give up home cooked meals just because the kids have flown the coop. A healthy diet reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes and prevents senior malnutrition.
3. Choose safer senior living.
A home that’s adapted to your needs enables independent living. And when you do more on your own, you stay physically and mentally active throughout each day.
Instead of clinging to a home that no longer meets your needs, move somewhere you can live without worrying about fall risks. A downsized home with an aging-friendly floor plan is one option, but seniors experiencing difficulty caring for themselves do better in assisted living. Assisted living is ideal for seniors who still want to maintain some independence but need assistance taking medication and preparing meals. Assisted living facilities can also provide help with bathing, getting dressed, and toileting. The cost of residing in one of these facilities in the Tallahassee area, for example, typically ranges from $1,500 to $6,076 per month.
4. Prevent falls with an active lifestyle.
Seniors’ heightened fall risk is largely due to sarcopenia, a gradual loss of muscle mass that begins around the age of 30. However, while muscle loss is a natural process, it’s also preventable through diet and physical fitness. In addition to eating enough protein, calcium, and vitamin D, seniors should incorporate regular exercise into their lifestyle.
5. Stay in touch with family and friends.
Your social life isn’t the first place your mind goes when thinking about healthy living, but social connections have a big impact on senior health. Loneliness and social isolation are linked to a wide range of health problems, from depression and dementia to heart disease.
Keeping in touch with old friends and family is good, but a senior’s social life shouldn’t be limited to phone calls and letters. If your social circle is shrinking by the year, make an effort to meet new people.
- Discover some of the best ways to meet new people after 60.
- Get advice on making friends after moving to assisted living.
We might not be able to stop aging in its tracks, but there’s a lot we can do to preserve our health as we grow older. The best part? None of these tips require a lot of time, money, or expertise to achieve. By following simple healthy living practices like these, you can take charge of the aging process and enjoy good health through every decade.