During the peak years, you are enthusiastic about the world and prepared to take on all kinds of challenges. When an adult gradually enters old age, it is common to face challenges in adjusting to the inevitable changes in health and fitness that come with age.
To live healthy and happy, you must change your lifestyle accordingly. As you reach 65, your immune system’s efficiency will decline, your body’s requirements will change, and your cognitive functioning might deteriorate. Fortunately, it is possible to have a smooth aging process where you cope with all these inevitable changes without letting them overwhelm you.
Prioritize your mental and physical health, focus on yourself, and aim to live your life to the fullest. The following tips will help you stay fit even as you grow older:
1. Focus on your diet
You are what you eat; this is especially true for seniors because the digestive system, like many other bodily processes, slows down and quickly falls victim to nutrient deficiencies. With the loss of appetite, the elderly find it difficult to maintain good eating habits, but you should never forget to prioritize your diet.
Ensure your diet includes sufficient fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, and, most importantly, water. Dehydration is a significant cause of concern in seniors because they tend to feel less thirsty and forget to drink.
A good diet can even reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and play an essential role in recovery from cancers like peritoneal mesothelioma cancer and other terminal diseases. Your diet should be even more of a concern if you suffer from any such illness.
2. Don’t be a couch potato
It is easy for seniors to fall into the trap of isolating themselves in a room with only a television and interaction with others. After all, it seems like all energies, even social batteries, drain with time.
However, avoid this at all costs; research shows that lack of activity can make you lose muscle strength at an alarming rate of 12% a week! This is particularly problematic for the elderly because it comes with other problems like sarcopenia.
Staying active, on the other hand, will slow down aging, enhance mental and physical health, minimize the risk of fall-related injuries, and even increase lifespan. In fact, it will also help tackle a problem many seniors face.
To incorporate activity into your daily routine, you can start brisk walking, marching, or doing stretches, ideally 30 minutes each day for five days a week. If you opt for vigorous-intensity exercise instead, 20 minutes three days a week should suffice.
A rule of thumb is that the exercise should make you slightly breathless; you can identify an exercise as suitable by taking the ‘talk test’ where you see whether you can say one sentence in a breath.
When seniors isolate themselves from others, withdraw from their social circles, and leave the roles they previously performed, they are likely to fall victim to low self-esteem, higher stress levels, and coping difficulties.
In fact, research shows that socializing is perhaps the most effective way of improving mental health in seniors. It enhances cognition, boosts memory and mood, and promotes healthy exercise habits.
While you may no longer have a job to go to or colleagues to interact with, there are still plenty of opportunities to socialize. The best way is to include others in your physical activity routine by joining an exercise program with your friends. You can also join a local senior center, volunteer in your community, or help your adult children raise their kids.
4. Quit alcohol and smoking
Another challenging but necessary sacrifice you have to make as you grow older is to reduce alcohol and smoking. Alcohol poses a serious mortality risk if taken in greater quantity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a maximum of one drink per day for women and two for men. But it has recently revised its suggestion to one for men as well.
As for smoking, steer clear of it at all costs. If you are a chronic smoker, it is time you quit this terrible habit because your body is no longer in top-notch shape. Quitting smoking will reduce lung damage, blood pressure problems, cholesterol levels, and chances of diabetes. It will also strengthen your immune system and muscles, which are particularly necessary for seniors.
5. Stay up-to-date about your health
It is no secret that you become more prone to illness as you age. Fortunately, seniors are allowed free physicals in most countries, so you must avail of this facility. Make sure you go for your annual wellness visits. Before laboratory tests are taken, physical health assessments are conducted to monitor your physical health, cognitive and mental functioning, and social support condition.
Routine laboratory health checks for seniors include blood tests, cholesterol and sugar level checks, blood cell counts, kidney and liver checks, and more. Also, consider taking additional tests like screening for osteoporosis and checking levels of vitamin B12 and thyroid hormone. Such exams help identify any problems before they escalate.
6. Make an effort to reduce falls
Another primary health concern among seniors is fall-related injuries. Falls are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in those over 65. Even minor falls can prove disastrous for seniors and cause fractures and head injuries.
Therefore, you must strive to reduce the chances of falls by improving your balance and mobility. One way to achieve this is to ensure a balanced weight. Secondly, be on the lookout for side effects of drugs, including dizziness, loss of balance, or falling. Also, wear appropriate footwear; avoid heels, slippery soles, and saggy slippers.
Some modifications to your living environment will also help; install grab bars on shared pathways, especially in the tub or shower area. Install safety rails on stairs on both sides. Make sure there is sufficient lighting in the house, especially at night.
There is no denying that aging isn’t easy; it is all the more difficult for someone unprepared for the inevitable changes. It is better to be prepared than to go in blind. Expect change and be ready to adjust your life around it. Make sure you eat healthily, stay active, socialize, quit alcohol and smoking, and make regular health checks a routine. Your well-being is in your hands; making your aging process go smoothly is possible.