Nearly one in every eight Americans, or 13% of the population is 65 years or older. That’s nearly 40 million people. Currently, the average life expectancy of an American is about 80 years old which is nearly double that of our ancestors.
Living a long life is a goal we have in common. We want to spend the latter years of our life feeling healthy and happy. Embracing a healthy lifestyle will bring invaluable wealth to us as we age.
Although growing older is inevitable, there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our lives but how we decide to live our senior years will be crucial. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our golden years.
Here are a few suggestions for healthy living that will help each of us age successfully.
Stay Connected & Productive
Staying productive and connected to people and things are important to maintaining your sense of purpose. Spend quality time with at least one person every day can uplift and challenge you. It is important that you do not seclude yourself.
Another thing you can do to stay productive is to render service to others who are not as fortunate as you. Giving time for a cause beyond yourself brings with it a sense of purpose you can’t achieve anywhere else. Your wealth of wisdom and experience will continue to grow as you reach out to others.
Finally, challenge yourself mentally. Read books, newspapers, do crossword puzzles, draw, paint or write. You can even learn to play a musical instrument to keep your mind sharp.
Exercise is a significant part of good health at every age. Unfortunately, many older adults do not get enough physical activity and exercise. Staying active can improve vitality, help maintain strength and flexibility, expand mental function, decrease risk for health problems and may even help relieve chronic pain.
Find an activity you enjoy and ease into it as your body can handle it. Try to include a variety of endurance, strength, stretching and balance exercises in your routine. Choose exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, biking, gardening and exercising classes designed for seniors. The key to successful exercising is variety.
Be sure to talk to your physician before beginning any exercise program.
Healthy Diet & Lifestyle
I’m sure you have heard this before . . . don’t smoke, eat right and practice good hygiene. We’ve all heard these tips, but repeating them often is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Eating right should include consuming nutrition-packed meals. Extra weight from poor diet choices increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Staying healthy also reduces out-of-pocket health care costs. A healthy person spends far less time at the pharmacy, the doctor’s office and even the hospital.
Visit Your Doctor Regularly
About 80 percent of seniors are living with a chronic condition. Many chronic conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, can often be prevented. Visit your health care provider regularly and follow their recommendations for screening and preventative measures. Screenings are particularly helpful as they serve as an early warning system. Much of the illness and disability associated with aging can be prevented or slowed down when you detect it early.
Growing older is inevitable, but there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs will extend our longevity but how we decide to live as we age is our decision. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, being productive, visiting our physicians often, funding our retirement and long term care helps us make the most of our senior years.