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Be Your Best at Every Age

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Be Your Best at Every Age

September is Healthy Aging® Month – an annual obser­vance designed to focus national atten­tion on the pos­i­tive aspects of grow­ing older. It's a commendable initiative, particularly if you consider the swelling ranks of seniors. Nearly 48-million Americans currently are age 65 or older; by 2060, the 65 and up crowd is projected to reach 88.5 million.

As lifespans continue to increase, focus should be placed on maximizing quality of life. With this goal in mind, ATRIO Health Plans is sharing steps seniors can take to be their best at every age.

Physical Fitness

To lead a physically fit lifestyle, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older Americans:

  • Choose an exercise you enjoy; that way, you're more likely to stick with it.
  • Engage in 30 minutes of aerobic activity and weight-bearing exercise every day.
  • Consider incorporating exercises – such as yoga or tai chi – that improve balance and flexibility.
  • Quit smoking; it's never too late to reduce smoking-related risks.
  • Eat a balanced diet, including at least five servings daily of fruits and vegetables; also opt for whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats.
  • Make sure you're getting enough calcium; ask your health-care provider if you should be taking a calcium supplement.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation; no more than two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women.
  • See a dentist regularly; tooth loss is not a natural part of aging, but is caused by untreated mouth and gum disease.

Mental Wellness

It's a mistake to assume that aging and cognitive decline automatically go hand in hand. In fact, studies have shown that the brain retains its plasticity –and thus the ability to learn new things – right up until the end of life. Of course, maintaining brain fitness isn't a passive process. You need to proactively preserve mental wellness.

Toward that end, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests the following activities to enhance mental wellness:

  • Read frequently.
  • Play board games and card games.
  • Tackle puzzles, such as crossword or math puzzles.
  • Take a class online or onsite.
  • Learn a new skill – such as a foreign language – or research a subject of interest.
  • Find a hobby; it's never too late to become passionate about a pastime.

Researchers have found that seniors with active social lives have slower rates of memory loss than those who are less socially active.

Tips to sustain social satisfaction include:

  • Contribute to your community by becoming involved with local volunteer groups, religious organizations, or civic groups.
  • Stay in close contact with family and friends; write, e-mail, or call someone daily.
  • Seek professional help if feelings of depression persist for more than two weeks; be aware that depression can manifest itself in the form of fatigue, loss of appetite, and sleep problems.
  • Take trips that offer opportunities to interact with others.
  • Make a daily effort to be thankful for something.

Studies have shown that older people tend to feel some 10 years younger than their actual chronological age. If seniors stay true to these tips, that number is bound to rise, and that would be a significant stride toward healthy aging.