Your health doesn’t have to be a casualty of age. There are many ways to age in a healthy, active way and still enjoy the finer things in life. Check out these 10 essential tips for healthy aging to find your best life yet.
1. Move Joyfully
As you get older, staying active and exercising becomes more important than ever. This is one of our most important tips for healthy aging. Exercise can help us maintain our physical and mental health, and it can also help us live longer, healthier lives. However, for many people exercise feels like a chore they’d rather avoid, and who want spend their golden years doing chores?
Thankfully, exercise doesn’t have to be this way. Find a way to move that makes you feel happy and joyful. It doesn’t have to look like conventional “exercise,” although exercise classes and weight lifting do bring joy for some! Some other great exercises for seniors include walking, swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi. These activities are low-impact and easy on the joints, and they can be done at any level of fitness. To keep your movement joyful, try to avoid focusing on weight loss or appearance-oriented goals. Focus instead on how exercise makes you feel and how you feel afterward. Notice yourself getting stronger, increasing your stamina, and other non-scale victories.
2. Prioritize Skincare
Did you know that 40-50% of fair-skinned people over 65 will develop skin cancer (1)? Older adults are also 10 times more likely to get malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, than those under age 40 (2). People with darker skin tones are less susceptible, but still not immune to these risks. That’s why protecting your skin is so important for healthy aging.
Wearing sunscreen or protecting yourself from the sun’s damaging UV rays is the easiest way to avoid skin cancer. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, but preferably higher than SPF 30. Remember to reapply every 2 hours or so if you are outdoors. You can also wear long sleeves, sun hats, and try to stay in the shade if you’re going to be outside for longer than a few minutes.
Beyond skin cancer, using moisturizer each morning and evening will help prevent premature skin aging and wrinkles. Lotions with anti-aging properties like retinol, hyaluronic acid, or vitamins C and E, are a good choice for people over 40. Check out this post for more skincare tips for seniors.
3. Keep Your Mind Active
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health–in fact, it may be even more important. Mental and physical health are closely linked, and studies have shown that mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress also have negative effects on your overall health and well-being (3).
Keep your brain active with puzzle games like sudoku, chess, bridge, or by reading or learning new things. Try new hobbies, visit new places, try new foods…keep your mind active, and you’ll be rewarded with feeling younger, happier, and more energetic.
4. Get Regular Checkups
Many serious illnesses can be treated or cured more effectively if they are identified early. Regular checkups with a primary care provider are a great way to maintain your health in later years. Common diseases for older people like cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease, all benefit from being diagnosed quickly. Sometimes, the symptoms of these and other health problems can go unnoticed or be attributed to “just getting older.” Being seen by a doctor can help prevent this. Make sure you advocate for yourself with any medical professional. If you think something is wrong or something feels off, tell your doctor right away and request tests and follow-up appointments.
Don’t slouch on your dental checkups either! Regular trips to the dentist will help you keep your teeth and avoid toothaches, tooth decay and other painful complications.
5. Maintain Social Relationships
Loneliness is common in retired people, and can lead to feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. Part of healthy aging includes healthy relationships. Try to stay in touch with your family members and friends, and prioritize time with your loved ones. If you find yourself far from home, you can use technology to help you keep in touch. Video calling, phone calls, text messages, emails, and video message apps can keep you connected even from afar.
Making friends can be difficult as we get older. If you find yourself feeling lonely, consider senior living communities, senior groups, or other places where you can get together with people who share your interests. Libraries and community centers often offer these types of groups.
6. Eat Well
It’s hard to go anywhere these days without hearing about the importance of a healthy diet. As an older adult, you don’t need to go on any super-restrictive diets or give up all (or any!) of the foods you love. Avoid crash diets or trendy meal plans that require you to completely revamp your eating style. These are likely to lead to weight-cycling (repeated weight loss and regain), which is considerably worse for your health than carrying a few extra pounds (4).
Eating well doesn’t have to be boring, complicated, or exotic. Just try to choose some fresh, whole foods each day. To help you feel your best, aim to get some protein, fat, and fiber at each meal or snack. This could look like an apple with peanut butter for a snack, a steak dinner with potatoes and a side salad, or a ham and cheese sandwich with some carrot sticks on this side. It’s okay to eat desserts and treats, as long as your diet also includes the foods that will give your body the nutrients it needs. Intuitive eating is a great way to eat well without feelings of deprivation.
7. Get Great Sleep
Getting good sleep is one of the best tips to ensure healthy aging. Almost half of all older people find themselves struggling with insomnia (5). Sometimes, you may need a doctor’s help to treat your sleeplessness. Other people may be able to improve their sleep hygiene on their own. You can get started by keeping a sleep journal and noting when your sleep is better or worse. This can help you identify patterns that will help you make better sleep choices. For example, many people find they have a harder time falling asleep if they watch a lot of TV or eat a large meal right before bed. Turning off electronic devices and finishing meals at least an hour before going to bed may help. You could also try a white noise machine or keeping your bedroom darker at night. Check out this post for more sleep tips for seniors.
8. Get More Zen
Hopefully, you are at a point in your life where stress is at a minimum, but this isn’t always the case for retired people. Getting more “zen” is a great tip for healthy aging. While work and family stressors are typically reduced after retirement, many seniors continue to worry about finances, health issues, and losing loved ones. While these are all valid concerns, too much stress can actually speed up aging.
Try to find your “zen” in your later years to manage and reduce stress. Eliminate stressors in your life where possible. For example, you could sell additional vehicles or rent out vacation properties to help ease financial burdens. If you have strained relationships that are causing anxiety, make peace with your loved ones or let unhealthy relationships go.
For stressors you can’t avoid, try managing the stress itself. Relaxing forms of exercise, like yoga, tai chi, or leisurely walks, can work wonders on your stress levels. Mindfulness and meditation have also been shown to be very effective.
9. Find Space for Gratitude
Believe it or not, gratitude is an important part of healthy aging for seniors. Feeling and expressing gratitude can actually improve sleep, mood, and immunity (6). An attitude of thankfulness in all things will make you a healthier, happier person. You could try keeping a daily gratitude journal, where you write down things you are grateful for every day. Religious people may benefit from including thankfulness in their daily prayers. For those who meditate, try meditating on the things you are grateful for.
10. Embrace Your Age
Healthy aging isn’t about trying to turn back the clock. Enjoy the benefits of being an older person! Think about the wisdom and learning you’ve acquired throughout your life. Focus on the time and opportunities you have now that eluded you in younger years. Find the benefits of your current stage of life, and revel in them. Aging isn’t a bad word, it’s a normal and beautiful part of the human experience.
Stellar Living hopes you find these 10 essential tips for healthy aging helpful. Senior living can be a very healthy choice for retirees. Considering senior living? Find a community near you today.