7 Tips to Keep Enjoying Life as You Get Older
August 15, 2018
It’s a fact of life: We all get older. But getting older doesn’t mean that you have to slow down or check out.
Feeling good as you get older often is tied to activity and exercise. Just as important are sound mental health and a solid social network, says family medicine specialist Natalie Thomas, DO.
Dr. Thomas offers these seven tips to stay healthy and engaged in your later years:
Fuel up. Eat three meals daily, with an emphasis on fresh produce, lean meats and calcium from low-fat dairy products, not supplements. Limit red meat as well as salty, fatty and cholesterol-laden foods because they can spike blood pressure and/or increase the risk of heart disease. Strive to eat home-cooked food more often than processed or restaurant meals.
Move it. The secret is to find something you enjoy. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week with no more than two consecutive days off, and two days of light weight training.
“A lot of people are afraid of the word fitness because they think they have to go to a gym,” Dr. Thomas says. “But walking is one of the best things people can do for themselves.”
Other exercise options include joining a Silver Sneakers program, which offers social benefits at every workout, or low-impact activities, such as tai chi, to help with balance.
Use your noodle. Fuel your brain by reading, playing word or number games, and staying connected to family and friends. Many senior and community centers offer socially and intellectually stimulating programs such as speakers, card games and outings to theaters or museums.
Practice good hygiene. Brush and floss teeth because poor oral care is linked to cardiovascular disease. Bathe regularly. And, if you experience urinary or fecal incontinence, change pads and clothing promptly.
“This will reduce urinary tract infections, other infections and sores that can affect quality and length of life,” she says.
Get your Zzzs. Sleep needs lessen as you age, yet you may find you aren’t sleeping at night. Dr. Thomas suggests skipping daytime naps, eating well, avoiding caffeine later in the day, staying active and shunning the TV or iPad before bed.
Come to your senses. All senses are important to stay engaged in life, but hearing and vision are particularly important.
“When people don’t get hearing aids when they need to, or don’t get the prescription in their glasses changed, they start to lose their interaction with the world a bit,” she says.
See your doctor. Regular check-ups are important, even when you’re feeling fine. Often, these appointments focus on prevention.
“We monitor health problems and offer advice about your physical or mental health,” Dr. Thomas says. “With less mobility or balance, some people don’t go out and do things. We can identify adaptations, like walkers or canes, to make sure you can safely do the things you want to do.”