With advances in healthcare and an increase in wellness initiatives for older adults, people are living longer and more fruitful lives. Overall wellness encompasses a balanced lifestyle that focuses on both mental and physical health. Pursuing wellness includes healthy aging strategies and lifestyle changes that prevent or slow the onset of disease. Not sure where to begin on your wellness journey? Try a few of these healthy aging tips.
1. Learn Stress Reduction Techniques
Stress may be an inevitable part of life, but learning to cope can help mitigate its effects. Stress can cause memory loss, fatigue, depression, and decreased immune response. In fact, research suggests that stress can not only cause physical illness but exacerbate existing conditions as well.
How do you reduce stress in your life? Try practicing mindfulness and meditation. These practices involve accepting circumstances and focusing on living in the present. Both have benefits that can help you age better, like improved focus, better memory, and increased immune function. Yoga also has many health benefits for older adults. Find a local studio or try an online beginner’s class to get started.
If mindfulness and meditation aren’t your cups of tea, try self-care practices instead. Take time out of each day to do something you enjoy, like call a friend, go for a walk, or read a book. As stressors change with age, make a point to learn what causes stress in your life and how to deal. The overall result will be a higher quality of life and more serenity.
2. Cultivate Meaningful Relationships
Life changes like retirement, health issues, or loss of a spouse can lead to social isolation in older adults. Unfortunately, isolation can cause depression and a quicker decline in general health. To avoid this, make an effort to maintain communication with family and friends. Schedule regular times to visit with those you love or make a standing date for weekly calls. Consider using technology like FaceTime or Skype so you can video chat or connect on a social media platform. Having people you can turn to for company and support as you age can limit the potential adverse effects of loneliness.
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating well at any age is essential, but older adults should be especially aware of what they consume. A well-balanced diet can help you age well by reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, according to a recent study. What’s more, LiveStrong notes that when older adults “[make] the most of [their] calories by choosing nutritious foods [they] can help to ensure positive energy levels and overall health.”
Aim to eat nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. Avoid excess sweets and highly processed foods. Be mindful of your salt intake to maintain healthy blood pressure. While extreme or fad diets should always be avoided, check with your physician prior to making any dramatic dietary changes. In the long run, a healthy diet can help you age well from the inside out.
For meal inspiration, try our recipes that incorporate superfoods for seniors.
4. Keep Your Mind Sharp
Many adults fear memory loss and dementia that may come with age. Fortunately, there are engaging activities that help maintain your cognitive health. The key is to remember that adults should never stop learning or challenging their minds. Try brain-healthy exercises like crossword puzzles or strategic computer games.
Evidence shows that adults who engage in hobbies and leisure activities are happier and maintain a sense of purpose in their lives. Get adventurous and try a new hobby that tests your memorization, such as:
- Learning a new language
- Taking dance lessons
- Learning to play a musical instrument
No matter the activity, find something you enjoy that challenges you to keep your mind sharp as you age.
5. Stay Active
The benefits of regular exercise are vast and especially helpful for aging adults. To name a few, physical activity lowers the risk of heart disease, stress, and certain cancers. Exercise improves sleep and mood and can help retain mobility longer.
To maintain an active lifestyle, find exercises you enjoy. Walking, cycling, or dancing are great for adults of all ages. Additionally, balance exercises like yoga or tai chi can help prevent falls in older adults. Don’t forget that many of the hobbies you already enjoy can count as exercise, like golf, swimming, or even gardening. (Read our latest blog post to get even more senior exercise ideas).
While any amount of activity is advantageous, adults should aim for 2.5 hours of exercise each week. Anything that gets your blood flowing and joints and muscles moving can help. Just be sure to consult your physician before beginning any new exercise routines.
6. Get Plenty of Sleep
Older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults, but they often get much less. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can cause irritability, memory problems, increased fall risk, and even depression. Experts recommend all adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
If you or your loved one suffer from sleep problems (such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, or restlessness), try establishing a regularly scheduled bedtime routine. Keep the bedroom dark and quiet within an hour of bedtime and avoid blue light from a TV or cell phone. Consider a calming activity like a warm bath or meditation before bed to relax your mind. Adequate sleep is critical to healthy aging, so make it a priority in your daily life.
Healthy Aging Involves the Body and Mind
Aging well is all about establishing wellness in your life to increase your overall health and happiness. A few simple lifestyle changes can help you enjoy the aging process even more. While it’s natural to worry about the challenges that come with growing older, there are ways to cope. Find activities that bring you joy and challenge your mind. Get active several times each week, eat a healthy diet, and make sleep a priority. Surround yourself with people you love who will walk with you through challenging times. Overall, focus on bettering your body and mind for an improved quality of life.