Photo by Noelle Otto

Aging does not necessarily mean you will have a slew of medical conditions or poor quality of life, but knowing what is normal for your body as you age and what is not is essential.

Old age is a great time to relax and enjoy one’s life. Age makes you wiser, much more comfortable in your skin, people’s should not matter that much, your kids have left home, and you have the freedom to do everything you want. Being happy and enjoying your life is a significant contributor to healthy aging. Studies showed that happy people were more likely to be robust and fit. Those unhappy were three times as likely to develop issues with physical activities as their physically active counterparts. It further revealed that happy seniors had less trouble getting up, dressing, or taking a shower than unhappy seniors, who were twice as likely to develop heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. 

Further, the enjoyment of life and general happiness are relevant determinants of mobility and future disability in seniors. You can check out Eleanor Gaccetta’s One Caregiver’s Journey book. It is a personal memoir that will make you tug at your heart or laugh as Eleanor shares her experiences providing 24/7 care to her mother for nine and a half years until her mother’s death at age 102. The author wrote the book over a long time and is a snapshot of the reality of the stages, changes, and many challenges caregivers face over time. It is a caregiver’s blueprint. 

Ten Steps To Aging Well (And Feeling Great!)

Ideally, you will have already been practicing healthy habits throughout your life. But even if you have not, it is never too late to start taking proactive steps to maintain and improve your health. Small lifestyle changes can significantly impact you, and adopting even a few habits listed in this article will start you on the right course. This is true, especially when one reaches a point of needing help and support. These tips show how you can make your family caregiver (in the long run and should you need one) feel less like a chore and more of a meaningful experience for them.

Tip #1. Staying Physically Active For A Healthy Mind and Body. Staying physically active can help offset many of the effects of aging. It has been found that regular exercise can help keep you mobile, improve your balance, improve your mood by lessening feelings of depression and anxiety, and contribute to better cognitive functioning. It is also vital in managing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, breast and colon cancer, and osteoporosis.

Tip #2. Following A Well-Balanced And Healthy Diet. Whole foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat should be the foundation of your diet to get that needed nutrition. This will also lower your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease. However, an occasional sinful treat is also necessary!

Tip #3. Do Not Neglect Yourself: Schedule Regular and Annual Physical Checkups. Regular checkups with your doctor (eye doctor, dentist, and specialist healthcare providers) are opportunities to catch and manage problems early before they become significant. Further, take all medications as prescribed by your physician. It may sound like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating that you should always take any medication prescribed to you precisely as directed by your doctor (or doctors). 

Tip #4. Getting The Sleep That Your Body Needs. As you get older, you may observe that your sleep schedule shifts. Making you sleepier in the early evening and ready to wake earlier in the morning. This is not unusual nor poses a concern so long as you continue to meet the needed 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you are experiencing acute or chronic insomnia, speak with your doctor, who can help determine what keeps you awake and advise you on possible solutions.

Tip #5. Limiting Alcohol Consumption and Quit or Avoid Smoking. Alcohol consumption must be limited to one drink per day for both women and men. Further, if you are a current smoker, you will want to find a tobacco cessation program to help you quit.

Tip #6. Staying Socially Active With Your Family And Friends. Making an effort to interact with family and friends can have numerous benefits for your health. If you do not have an active social life, look for opportunities to reconnect with old friends or make new ones. Seek out like-minded others in church groups, gyms, volunteer activities, alumni groups, or any other group that corresponds to an interest of yours.

Tip #7. Laugh. A Lot. Laughing decreases the stress hormone cortisol. Research says 20 minutes spent watching funny videos helped improve the memory of seniors. Some studies also show a link between happiness and a lower risk of heart illness. So, laugh as much as possible because laughter is the best medicine.

Summing Up!

Getting older requires changes in all realms of life. This can be from the physical to the mental to the social, emotional, sexual, and more—some of these changes you may consider positive or negative. The challenge is to optimize the good parts of getting older while remaining proactive ways to maintain your health and minimize the negative regard.

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