When you imagine self-care, you probably picture solo activities such as taking a long bubble bath or going for a run. And if you're a parent, your next thought is probably how to go about accomplishing these feats, as you don’t have time for anything. But the truth is, self-care doesn't have to be solitary!
By Karen Weeks
Aging is inevitable, but how you age isn’t. Some seniors are in better health than others, and some are even in the best health of their lives. While genetics do play a part in overall health, lifestyle factors are just as important. It’s all about minimizing risk and putting effort into what you can control. Start your journey to healthy aging by being proactive in these areas.
You might have been able to easily enjoy cheeseburgers and milkshakes during your youth without gaining weight, but poor eating habits don’t bode well for older people with slower metabolisms. What’s happening inside your body could be even more concerning than your physical appearance. Aging means having to pay more attention to blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels to keep your body functioning properly and your arteries clean.
Stick to a diet that’s vegetable-heavy and fiber-rich, and cut back on your saturated fat and meat intake. Be sure to keep your protein intake at sufficient levels by eating beans, nuts, grains, and vegetables. Reduce your sugar intake by ditching the sweeteners and getting sugar from natural sources like fruit.
You don’t need to tackle high-intensity workouts at the gym; there are many exercises that are easy and safe for seniors. Beginner’s yoga is a suitable workout for all ages and fitness levels. Going on a walk is both easy and free. Swimming is an excellent low-impact, full body workout that’s gentle on the joints. And strength training exercises can prevent age-related muscle loss, prevent falls, manage pain symptoms, and improve posture and bone density.
If you know how to take care of your body, you can avoid major health decline during the aging process. The younger you start with preventative health care, the better off you’ll be in the long-term. Visit your doctor regularly for checkups and tests, and make an appointment when you think something might be wrong. Follow your doctor’s advice on injury and illness prevention. It doesn’t take long for a small problem to grow into a larger one if it’s left unchecked.
Healthcare encompasses more than traditional medicine. Homeopathic health practices, such as stretching and meditation, can improve your mental and physical health without costing anything. For those who want to enhance their overall health, supplements are also worth considering. Depending on the medications you are taking, there are a variety of supplements you can incorporate into your diet. Many people turn to glucosamine and chondtroitin supplements for osteoarthritis and joint pain. Calcium is popular for the prevention of bone decay, and probiotics are especially helpful for maintaining digestive health. CBD oil (cannabidiol) is proving popular among many people for its positive effects on pain management, inflammation reduction, sleep, anxiety, and depression. Despite being derived from cannabis, CBD is a legal product.
As the people around you get busy and move on with their own lives, you might start to feel lonely. Loneliness can lead to depression, which can actually shorten your life. To combat loneliness, make sure you’re staying social in your retirement. If your family’s calls and visits have become infrequent, ask them to make time for you. They won’t know how to support you if you don’t express your needs. Join a senior center for social activities and group outings with your peers. A senior center will allow you the opportunity to meet other retired seniors who are also searching for new friends.
Memory and clarity start to decline as we age, but an active brain can improve those areas. Thinking, creating, and problem solving will keep your brain stay active. Keep your mind sharp and stimulated with puzzles and hobbies. A hobby can be anything from crafting to brain gamesor puzzles like jigsaws and crosswords. Do these activities with friends so that everyone is engaging their brains while being social.
Prevention is the key to good health, and it’s never too late for seniors to adopt a healthier lifestyle. You’ll get better results if you start earlier, but don’t let that discourage you before you’ve even started. With incremental steps, you’ll soon be on your way to the healthiest years of your life.
Karen is a Senior Lifestyle blogger. She created ElderWellness.net as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well.