Today, older adults make up the fastest growing part of our population in the U.S. at 15 out of every 100. This is a significant difference from the early 1900s as only 4 out of every 100 people were age 65 years or older. As the baby boomer generation continues to advance into retirement and beyond, healthy aging is a major topic. Most of their concerns deal with mental capacity, weight gain, chronic diseases, falls, and social activity. Although the aging process is inevitable, we can choose to live a healthy lifestyle now and as we grow older.
These tips can help you enjoy a healthier, happier and fuller life:
Appropriate Healthcare. Find out about healthcare providers and benefits available to older Americans. Visit the Medicare.gov website for information on programs, plans, providers, and specialty health organizations in your community. Remember to continue your regular treatments and checkups once a year even if you are feeling healthy.
Check Your Meds. Prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements are all part of treatment regimens for many older adults. Keep your healthcare provider updated with any and all medications to avoid side effects and overdosing. Create a list of every pill, medicine or vitamin you take, dosage, and times. You will need to provide this every time you see a healthcare professional. Make sure to take any new medicines as directed and immediately alert your doctor if you experience any health problems.
Mental Health. Your overall health and well-being are directly related to your mental state. The emotional and mental health of older adults can be improved through promoting active and positive aging. This is initially achieved through creating living conditions and environments that support well-being and allow individuals to lead healthy and integrated lifestyles. Strive for a daily routine that provides freedom and security along with continued support from your family, friends, and community. Continue to increase your social activity, relationship network, and engagement with others. Studies have shown that social interaction causes effects in the brain leading to a beneficial impact on memory and cognitive function as people age. If you are suffering from a mental condition, seek out and involve yourself with development or intervention programs targeted at your specific needs (living alone, rural population, mental illnesses, dementia, addictions, etc.).
Diet and Weight Management. Your body goes through noticeable changes as you age with loss of muscle mass, increased frailty, and a much lowered metabolic rate to burn calories. Keeping a healthy weight is critical among older people and depends on what is typically considered healthy from person to person. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight should be for you with a correlating eating plan. Being underweight is of concern and may be related to not having enough to eat, nutrient-deficient foods, or having an illness or disease. Being overweight or obese can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and bone issues among others. Maintaining a healthy weight as you age involves eating wisely and staying physically active to preserve muscle and bone strength. Practice portion control as you eat nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer, as you may be unaware of how much you are eating if distracted. Plan and prepare your own meals. Cook and freeze portions for days when you don’t want to cook. Eat your meals often with people you enjoy.
The healthcare landscape is changing and it’s up to you to gain knowledge about insurance, treatments, and effective planning as you age. Along with a strong provider network, simple exercise, good eating habits, and improving your mental stability will help you enjoy better health and greater independence in later life.