Our partner, Dennise Vaughn, Administrator at HomeWatch Caregivers Home Care, shares a blog with us about Healthy Aging Month occurring this September!
We can’t fight aging, although sometime we sure try! As we age, health becomes more important. Thanks to improvements in medicine and health, we live longer lives now. As such, it’s even more important than ever before to develop healthy habits as we get older.
September is Healthy Aging Month, which was designated in order to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. The “Healthy Aging Campaign” was established 15 years ago, and since then, individuals help others become aware of their physical and mental health, diet, social skills and even financial situations; all factors that contribute to successful aging.
Healthy Aging Month encourages to act how you feel — instead of acting your age! This month also encourages our seniors to take charge of their well-being, by aging with a healthy body (physical health) and a healthiest mind (mental health).
There are many ways to use Healthy Aging Month as inspiration to being celebrating life, and the month is dedicated to helping individuals gain a more positive outlook about growing older. And while genetics play a role when it comes to aging, seniors still can take steps to encourage better health.
Get Moving and Get Going
If you are not accustomed to exercise, consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine and be sure to start slowly to allow plenty of time to get used to each level of activity.
Exercise can be as simple as walking just ten or fifteen minutes, three to four times a week and increasing as you go. For those who are more active, try taking up tennis or joining a club where you can swim or use the exercise equipment. Even just taking a dance class or senior yoga, gardening or mowing the lawn. There are countless ways to stay active that will keep your body moving.
Make sure you watch your portion sizes. Many Americans aren’t aware of proper portion sizes and inevitably eat larger portions than recommended, and we all know overeating leads to obesity — which could lead to even bigger health concerns such as diabetes or heart disease. Plus as we age, our metabolism slows down and we need fewer calories.
Healthy eating is a big part of staying healthy. Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid excessive processed foods. Boosting the amount of fresh vegetables in our diet is an easy way to feel full without a lot of calories. The USDA suggests an easy way to balance nutrition: your plate should have slightly less than one quarter proteins (lean meat, fish, poultry or legumes) and fruits, slightly more than one quarter grains and vegetables. Additionally, stay hydrated by drink a lot of water, at least 6-8 glasses per day.
Stay Social and Make Friends
Don’t be afraid to make new friends, and make an effort to see your old friends, too. A sedentary lifestyle devoid of interaction with friends and family lead to health issues and isolation can lead to depression. Instead of feeling lonely and bored reach out and invite friends and family over! Or you can socialize with others by volunteering, joining a class or bringing a caregiver — which may in to help you look forward to activities such as cooking with their help, playing cards/games, or simply talking.
If you can no longer drive, look for transportation services that can help you get out and attend social events. If you’re computer literate, schedule Facetime conversations with children and grandchildren. Just by interact with and talk to someone daily, you will do your mind and mental health a world of good.
Balance Both Your Body & Mind
Keep your mind active by reading the newspaper (or read on your tablet) while you eat breakfast. Keeping your mind active and engaged may ward off brain chemistry changes that could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Working on puzzles, reading books are also great for the mind and will help reduce stress that comes with aging problems. You can even take up a new creative hobby! For your body, perhaps practice yoga to improve your flexibility and balance. It is also great for the mind and will help reduce stress that comes with aging problems.
Get Regular Check-Ups And Yearly Physicals
Don’t ignore symptoms. If you’re not feeling well, don’t “wait for it to go away.” While you don’t need to visit the doctor for every ailment, know yourself and your body well enough to detect if there is something out of the ordinary.
Don’t neglect regular medical check ups; have an annual physical examination. and schedule the tests your doctor recommends. This would include your eye doctor and dentist as well as your physician. Many diseases can be prevented when caught early if you remain diligent about your health. Take medications and vitamins/supplements as prescribed in order to ensure you are feeling your best.
A positive outlook and proactive approach is one of the best ways to encourage healthy aging! Here’s how to get the most out of life as you age.
Fighting Back Against “Nature”
Finally, it’s a good idea to look at the health history of your family. Do research on your family tree to see how old relatives were when they passed, and talk over with your physician your family history. Your health care provider is able to provide insight on how to with with him or her to assure you’re fighting nature and genetics to assure you have the longest, healthiest life possible.
You can beat some genetic diseases by adopting a healthier lifestyle and by embracing healthy options you take the preventive actions to help assure you’re as healthy as you can be as you move into your 60s, 70s and beyond.
Remaining active and engaged is the best gift you can give yourself. Staying physically and mentally active, and nurturing social connections with friends and family, are all part of the bigger picture in helping to keep your mind and body well!
Embrace healthy aging! If you are looking for other resources to support aging adults, please visit us at Homewatch CareGivers at www.homewatchcaregivers.com/naperville/