September is healthy aging month. People are living longer than ever, but we don’t want to just live longer, we want to live our best life! There is no magic bullet, but here are seven areas from the National Institute on Aging that we can focus on to help achieve healthy aging.
Get moving! Exercise can help to control weight and help to maintain muscle mass which is often lost with age. Maintaining your muscle mass will allow you to stay independent longer and to continue to enjoy the activities that you love.
Exercise has also been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s important to find something that you love to do so you’ll stick with it. You might consider walking, yoga, swimming, or Tai Chi, which is great for balance. Finally, remember to take advantage of your SilverSneakers benefit, included in your KelseyCare Advantage plan, which gives you access to participating gym locations and on-demand workout videos.
Eating nutritious food is important to help your body stay healthy and strong, but it may also help improve brain function. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020 – 2025) suggests an eating pattern consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Three diets that follow this pattern are the: Mediterranean diet, the low-salt DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and the MIND diet, which combines the Mediterranean and DASH diets. Whichever eating pattern you choose, it may help to start by slowly adding in more fruit, vegetables, and fish to your diet.
Older adults often have challenges sleeping due to pain, sickness, or medications. This can result in getting less sleep than the seven to nine hours that’s recommended. Not getting the rest that you need can affect cognitive abilities and may lead to or worsen depression. Whereas, sleeping well can help to lower obesity rates, insulin resistance, and heart disease.
If you’re having trouble sleeping:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day.
- Avoid napping late in the day.
- Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon, as caffeine can stay in your system over eight hours.
- Keep your room at a cool, comfortable temperature.
- If you’re hungry, have a light snack before bed that includes protein.
- Try to avoid looking at smart devices like your phone or tablet an hour before bed to give your mind and your eyes time to relax.
- Decide if it might be time for a new mattress as you want a mattress that gives you just the right level of support, not too hard or too soft. The Sleep Foundation recommends that a mattress used under normal conditions should be replaced every six to eight years.
Regardless of your age, if you quit smoking you will:
- Lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and lung disease
- Improve your blood circulation
- And, improve your sense of taste and smell!
ALCOHOL & SUBSTANCE ABUSE
It’s recommended that older adults limit or avoid alcohol. Certain areas of the brain have shown premature aging in alcohol-dependent men and women and excessive alcohol use can also lead to poor heart health. Drinking too much may also cause you to fall and hurt yourself.
In addition to monitoring alcohol use, seniors and caregivers must also closely monitor prescribed medication for pain such as opioids as well as any medications prescribed for sleeping disorders or anxiety. These types of medications should be used properly so as not to lead to dependence.
Just like it’s important to take care of your physical health, it’s just as important to take care of your mental health. It’s not uncommon for senior adults to experience loneliness, stress, or depression for a variety of reasons.
Try to stay connected with friends and family both in person, on the phone, and using video technology like Zoom. Staying connected with others can help to boost your mood and overall well-being.
Depression is highly treatable, so talk to your Kelsey-Seybold Clinic physician if you’re noticing signs of it including a lack of sleep, sadness, a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, or a loss of appetite.
REGULAR HEALTH SCREENINGS
Finally, make sure you are getting regular check-ups! An annual physical is included in your KelseyCare Advantage plan. Regular check-ups may catch chronic diseases early, as well as help reduce risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, or discover diabetes or cancer. Call 713-442-0000 if you need help scheduling your appointment, today!