Our mission at Home Instead Senior Care is to enhance the lives of aging adults and their families. Our goal every day is to change the face of aging and help enable older adults to remain in their homes longer and healthy aging plays a large role in that.
To understand successful aging, it’s important to first know what gives aging a negative vibe. Many older adults have at least one of these common aging fears, according to CaregiverStress.com:
1. Loss of independence
2. Declining health
3. Running out of money
4. Not being able to live at home
5. Death of a spouse or another family member
6. Inability to manage their own activities of daily living
7. Not being able to drive
8. Isolation or loneliness
9. Strangers caring for them
10. Fear of falling or hurting themselves
We all have an opportunity to change the mindset of people young and old and help move them from a place of fear to a place of hope. Healthy aging is a holistic approach to life centered around the mind, body and soul. Fulfilling these needs at a fundamental level, is the groundwork for healthy aging. The following 10 tips for healthy aging can be implemented at any age.
1. Be active. Maintain or start an active, healthy lifestyle. Make physical movement a part of every day. Regular exercise can include walking, gardening, stretching, taking the stairs and strength training, such as using light weights or resistance bands. Studies show that people who exercise, not only live longer, but live better. I know the older I get, the Phrase “Use it or Lose it!” really holds water!
2. Eat well. Increase the number of fruits and vegetables while decreasing sodium and serving sizes. The more colorful the plate, the better! Try to steer yourself away from processed foods as they often have lots of perservatives and sodium which isn’t recommended-and never supersize it.
3. Practice prevention. Ensure the home is a safe environment free of tripping hazards to avoid falls that can be detrimental to healthy aging. It’s also important to not neglect those annual vision, dental and health screenings to stay on top of any health changes. Benjamin Franklin axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true today as it was when Franklin made the quote.
4. Understand your health status. Advocating for your health is your responsibility. While family members and caregivers should be aware of your health status, taking the lead to manage your medications, following up with your doctor and following your health plan is a vital component of healthy aging.
5. Get enough sleep. The body must rest in order to rejuvenate. Developing a schedule or bedtime routine to regularly get 7-9 hours of sleep per day is critical to successful, healthy aging.
6. Cultivate relationships. Stay connected with the people who matter. It’s important to have a support system and social network. Staying socially engaged has been shown to keep the mind active. I know the older we get, it is often harder to forge friendships like when we were much younger, but well worth it to build new friendships and social groups. Try out those things such as hobbies you always said “if I only had time I’d like to learn to….” Use technology like Skype, FaceTime, or social networks to maintain communication and visits with friends and family. My father in law connects regularly at age 80 with his family and friends weekly back in Greece through both these technologies.
7. Engage your brain. It is important to continue to use your mind as you age. Research shows activities that keep the brain active may delay memory decline that leads to dementia. These activities could include reading, writing or doing crossword puzzles. Never stop learning. You’re never too old to learn a new trick or two!
8. Reduce stress. Aging and the changes it brings can cause stress, which may lead to anxiety and depression. A dedicated focus on the good and understanding your stress triggers are key ways to identify and mitigate stress. Find healthy ways to manage stress. Whether it is exercise, journaling or seeking professional counseling, it’s crucial to know how you can successful relieve stress.
9. Use your time productively. Make time for the interests you enjoy, both individually and socially. Scheduling these activities will ensure they are done. Volunteering can be a powerful way to engage the mind and soul while feeding the need for purpose in one’s life.
10. Embrace aging. Aging is something no one can avoid or run from. And it is a blessing to have the privileged to do. Embrace the process and tune into your thoughts and emotions. Ensure that they are positive and affirming. Focus on what you can do instead of any limitations you may have. You can modify just about any activity to meet your limitations thus not giving it up beloved activities at all.
Don’t let implementing these 10 healthy aging tips overwhelm you! Start small by adding one of two of these tips to your regular routine and more as your mind, body and soul are ready.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonomato educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime