As we age, our bodies and minds change in ways we don’t always have control over. It’s easy to resign yourself to these changes and force yourself to accept what you see as inevitable. While it’s true that some negative aspects of getting older cannot be helped, it’s a myth that your health is out of your control once you enter your golden years. You really can take charge of your physical and mental health, which will give your life an overall boost. Since you can’t focus on everything, here are the most important ways to take control.
If you think that exercise doesn’t matter once you reach a certain age, think again! The fact is that seniors who exercise are injured or disabled 25 percent less than seniors who do not exercise. Exercise (recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate activity daily) will help strengthen your bones and joints, regulate your weight, make your heart stronger, and help you fight mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Listen to your body and do what feels good. You don’t have to run marathons or hire a personal trainer. In fact, there are plenty of indoor exercises that are absolutely perfect for seniors.
Cook Healthily at Home
Going on a “diet” isn’t necessarily healthy for seniors. Your body and mind need vitamins and minerals that only a well-rounded diet can provide (so much so that seniors are often told to take supplements). That’s what makes eating healthy, complete meals such a vital aspect of overall senior health.
In general, you should look to eat more whole foods, fewer overall calories, more protein, and less refined carbs; something like the Mediterranean diet is a good model. Eat more lean meat, fiber, whole grains, fruits, and veggies while eating less high-fat meat, sugar, and processed foods. It’s easier to do this if you get in the habit of cooking at home, where you can control every ingredient in your meals. Use grocery delivery apps to help if you have mobility issues.
Prevent Illnesses and Injuries Instead of Reacting to Them
Eating right and exercising are two of the cornerstones of preventative care, but you can do more. It’s harder for seniors to recover from illness and injury, so it’s best to not have to do it at all. Here are some of the easiest ways to prevent health problems:
- Stop smoking
- Drink only in moderation
- Remain at or achieve a healthy weight
- Get all necessary vaccinations (especially the flu shot)
- Always follow through with your doctor-recommended screenings
- Make your home safe. Improve lighting, install handrails and grab bars, replace slippery flooring with non-slip varieties, and make other modifications as necessary.
Do Things to Stimulate Neural Pathways
A truly healthy body cannot exist without a healthy mind, and vice versa. With cognitive decline a risk for a large portion of seniors, doing things on a daily basis that stimulate brain function becomes a pillar of overall well-being. Consider a three-pronged approach to consistent mental maintenance: social interactions (hanging out with friends and family), brain stimulation (puzzles, reading, crosswords, games), and an emphasis on continued learning (keeping up with new technology, getting involved in a new hobby, learning a new language). Of course, getting enough sleep, exercise, and a proper diet will also help your overall mental health.
Your golden years can be the best years of your life. It helps to know that you are not at the mercy of the clock. In fact, you are more than capable of making simple, straightforward lifestyle changes that not only improve the quality of your life but the overall quality as well.