Advances in medicine and improvements in nutrition and lifestyle mean we’re now living longer than ever. But with longevity comes a general deterioration in health as our bodies, designed for a shorter lifespan, start to let us down.
Luckily there are plenty of things you can do to prolong your health and the key lies in taking a proactive approach. Here we look at 14 tips for improving your physical and mental wellbeing throughout your senior years.
Common age-related health issues
As we move into our 50’s, the cracks start to appear with the emergence of issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Then in our 60’s, aching joints make an appearance, accompanied by a slower metabolism, an increased risk of heart disease and a reduction in our balance, energy, agility and strength.
Then by the time we move into our 70’s, all bets are off, as brittle bones, a weakened immune system and diminishing hearing and eyesight all shuffle in and take a bow.
Other health problems can also include arthritis, respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s, depression, osteoporosis, glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, urinary tract problems and cancer.
Not really much to look forward to, but rather than throwing your hands up and surrendering to the inevitable, putting some of the following tips into practice could give you a whole new lease on your life and your health.
7 tips for physical health
Getting in good physical condition and staying that way is key to healthy living in later years and ways to achieve this include;
- Be active every day – walk, jog or swim regularly or if that sounds too energetic, get a pet. Taking a dog for a walk every day will give you valuable exercise yourself.
- Get lots of sleep – a good night’s sleep can do a ton of good including boosting your immune system, preventing weight gain, strengthening your heart and more. Sleep is when nature recharges the body.
- Eat healthy – switch to a diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-sodium foods to keep your cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems in good order.
- Exercise your muscles – regularly using your muscles and tendons will improve your posture and flexibility. Mastering a few well-chosen yoga moves can mitigate all kinds of muscle stiffness and back pain.
- Lose weight – if your BMI isn’t ideal, go on a diet to achieve your desired weight. Although your metabolism slows down as you get older, it’s never too late to lose a few kilos.
- Give up bad habits – ditching the cigarettes and reducing your alcohol intake will improve your respiratory and cardiovascular health and add years to your life.
- Get professional help – have regular health checkups so you know the heath issues to work on and your GP can monitor your progress.
7 tips for mental health
Your mental wellbeing is also an important part of your overall health and there are some simple things you can do to ensure you stay on the ball and happy in your senior years.
- Have a purpose – a common anxiety in retirement is the feeling that nobody needs you any more. The way to overcome this is to busy yourself with meaningful work. Volunteer, become a mentor, go back to school, it doesn’t matter what as long as it gives you a purpose in life.
- Recalibrate – your senior years are a time to look back at what works and doesn’t work in your life. Make a whole new start by getting rid of the things that don’t work and doing more of the things that do.
- Refocus – rather than persisting with the things you’re merely good at, focus on the thing you excel at and enjoy most. This is the recipe for a long and happy retirement.
- Act your age – stop trying to look like you did thirty years ago. Wear your age gracefully and you’ll be surprised how quickly it will stop being an issue for you.
- Put yourself out there – if you’re feeling isolated because your social circle has shrunk over the years, build it back up by getting out there. Join a club, play a sport, anything that involves meeting people of a similar age.
- Be positive – happy is as happy does. Every day you have the choice of glass half full or half empty, so celebrate the positives and you may soon be surprised at how many there are in your life.
- Sharpen your mind – keep Alzheimer’s at bay by regularly exercising your mind. Do crosswords, learn an instrument or take up a hobby so your brain is being constantly engaged and new neural pathways created.
Taking healthy steps such as eating properly, exercising and developing a positive outlook on life can help to improve your health no matter what age you are.
But taking those steps is even more important in your senior years when you’re faced with the decision to accept old age and all its ailments or be proactive and only be as old as you feel. It’s a decision only you can make, but hopefully this article has inspired you to give it a go.