Healthy Aging: Top 7 Tips For Aging Gracefully
In this article, we’ll discuss some misinformation regarding aging as well as some powerful tips for healthy aging.
Getting old always presents life with a new set of changes at each stage. As one crosses the middle age threshold, these changes become more evident in both lifestyle and health. These include children moving out, retirement, loss of parents or loved ones, declining physical health, and sometimes losing independence.
Healthy aging does not mean that people should take up methods and habits to look 20 years younger, such as dying their greying hair. Instead, these are efforts to maximize the positive aspect of aging while maintaining health through proactive steps.
Misunderstandings Surrounding Aging
The word ‘aging’ brings around a prominently negative image for most people. However, it is essential to break down those myths and look at the reality of the situation, so that the areas needing help can be worked on better. Here are some of the misunderstood points:
1. Aging Results In A Decline In Physical Health
Growing old does not mean that the bones and joints may grow weak, or that some disability or disease would be bound to happen. Many 50+ individuals live a vigorous and healthy life. It all depends on the good habits emulated during youth or before old age.
2. Memory Retention Is Negatively Affected
The trope of older adults forgetting things quickly if often overused. While it is inevitable that the brain’s working would slow down with age, it does not mean that old age brings in memory-loss like situations. Learning new skills and training the mind can be done at any stage of life, ensuring that the memory retention powers remain active over the years.
3. New Habits Cannot Be Formed In Old Age
Since it is believed that growing old is directly related to retirement, being confined within 4 walls, or restricted movement, people give up on learning new skills or habits. But old age provides the perfect opportunity to take up many benefitting practices, which can be combined with years of living experience to give the best results.
Tips For Healthy Aging
Many self-help methods that can be practiced over time are enough for the body to go through aging gracefully. These include:
Cultivating a healthier eating habit is more preferable than following a diet culture. The body needs nutrients to build up resilience against the hazards that come with old age. These nutrients can be best achieved through eating:
- Whole foods like grains, pulses
- Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber
- Lean sources of meat
- Small amounts of fat-free dairy
- Healthy Fats
Food rich in saturated and trans fats should be avoided. Water intake should be regulated since regular consumption would take care of brain function and skin health.
The need for exercise has been emphasized to everyone since childhood. The human body requires physical movement since it keeps the brain cells healthy by delivering more oxygen. It also encourages the release of the ‘feel-good’ hormones into the body.
Committing to at least 30 minutes of light exercise is critical. It could be taken in the form of short strolls scattered throughout the day. Any activity that makes the person feel a bit breathless can be done.
3. Mental Health
A lot of emotional changes take place as an individual grows old. Handling stress beforehand would save them from many complications further on. To keep the mental health in check, taking care of these aspects is essential:
a. Social Life
Staying connected to loved ones improves mental and physical well-being and longevity—interaction with at least one person daily, or reaching out to friends now and then is recommended. Even pets can prove to be excellent companions, as their presence is linked to lower blood pressure and stress.
Start dialing back on the stressful life right from a younger age. It brings health issues such as heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. with its escalation. Thus, stress management should not be overlooked.
Growing old brings in many life-changing events, including loved ones passing away and health problems piling up. Their positive acceptance, along with keeping a grateful and happy mindset, would help in keeping depression or anxiety at bay.
4. Mouth Hygiene
Dental care is often taken for granted, but taking good care of teeth, gums, and the tongue would keep dental problems away, thus indirectly reducing the risk of many inflammatory complications. These include heart problems, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Floss and brush teeth at least twice a day, with the occasional mouth rinsing.
Seven to eight hours of sleep every night is a must. Insomnia is common in aging people, where they find it difficult to sleep and remain asleep. Some may even experience themselves sleeping and waking up earlier than their usual timings.
Here are a few tips to ensure sound sleep during the night:
- Avoid caffeine at least 3 hours before bedtime
- Keep screens and devices away while in bed
- Limit naps to 20 minutes, per day
- Tire the body out with physical activities, to ensure sleep
6. Smoking And Alcohol Consumption
These addictions have been observed to quicken aging and the risk of diseases to most organs in the body. An active smoker would find their body healing within 20 minutes of the last cigarette. Quitting all forms of tobacco has almost immediate positive effects on the body.
Alcohol should be dealt with in the same way. Its consumption needs to be limited to one glass per day for both the genders. Over time, dependency on alcohol should be done away with, as well.
7. Medicine And Doctors
Health check-ups should be regularly conducted, especially if the individual suffers from some ongoing health issues. Consulting a doctor now and then would ensure that the best medical aid is given to all problems immediately.
Mindfulness is crucial, as it involves acceptance and living in the moment, along with keeping an eye out for rising health problems, so that a doctor can be alerted in time. Some ways in which it can be practiced are:
- Tai Chi
- Zen activities, like raking leaves or using coloring books
- Taking up peaceful hobbies like sewing, swimming, or gardening
Medications already being taken should be administered carefully, since some may start showing side effects with an aging body. Natural alternatives like herbs or supplements could be taken in their place, but this should be done only after a discussion with the healthcare provider.
Healthy Aging: Conclusion
Healthy aging is guaranteed through healthy practices taken on early in life. These habits need to be carried on through old age and a few limitations and a positive mindset. Identifying health warning signs and taking prompt action would guarantee a thriving life once it has passed.
September 14, 2020 Sam Bell