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How To Age Well?

senior enjoying outdoors
senior standing near a lake

Everyone wants to grow old gracefully but how can that be accomplished?. Growing old affects all parts of our body such as skin, hair, muscles, heart and more. Skin gets filled with wrinkles, hair loses its shine and luster, muscles get easily fatigued and so on. Also as we grow older, we are at an increased risk for developing various diseases that can also have an impact on our aging.

Healthy lifestyle may have an effect on our aging which is the reason some individuals age better than others. Those of us who can afford, opt for plastic surgery, personal trainers or nutritionists. However, for the rest of us there are ways to help retain the youth with a healthy body and mind without costing a fortune.

1. Positive Attitude:

Sure aging comes with plenty of physical and emotional problems to cope with. For example decrease in mobility, feelings of sadness and loss, increasing dependence on other family members, ensuring financial security are just some of the challenges people face.

Some studies have shown that the effects of positive attitude and optimism can have an impact on our health and well being. Think of it as the age old question, “Is the glass half-empty or half-full”?. Thinking positively is not about ignoring life’s problems but solving those problems in a positive and productive manner. Appreciating the wisdom that one has earned through the years is just one way to look at it.

2. Healthy Diet:

A healthy diet is extremely important in maintaining a healthy weight which can help in keeping various diseases at bay. According to American Institute for Cancer Research, vegetables, fruits and whole grains should make up at least 2/3 of the plate at each meal.

By eating more plant based foods and less meat and dairy, maintaining a healthy weight and promoting good digestion reduces the chances of having heart disease and cancer. Foods rich in Omega 3 such as fish, walnuts, flax seed offer immense benefits. They can help in fighting depression and anxiety, improve eye health, keep skin looking healthy and young, fight age related cognitive problems such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

How much you eat is equally important to what you eat? Experts say that it’s best to stick to a balanced diet for healthy body. According to National Institute on Aging, a moderately active women needs about 1800 calories per day where as a moderately active man would need 2,200 – 2,400 calories on a daily basis.

3. Regular Exercise:

Studies suggest that exercise slows the aging of skin among various other benefits such as improving blood flow, making the heart more efficient, increase metabolism which as a result helps in burning more calories. Being active is not just about adding years to your life but rather adding life to your years.

It is never too late to start exercising as long as your doctor recommends it. By exercising you will feel more energetic and have more stamina to accomplish tasks. It also helps in reducing the impact of various diseases and illnesses. Just going for a walk with a friend or your partner can have a positive effect on your health while spending time together.

Mental exercise is just as important as physical activity. Playing mental games like Sudoku or cross word puzzles can help keep the brain active which can help prevent memory loss and dementia. Develop new skills and make the brain work harder a little more.

4. Stay Social:

According to a study published by the National Institute on Aging, the researchers have concluded that loneliness can emotionally weaken older adults. Isolation and loneliness can have a negative effect on aging.

Social interaction is associated with positively aging and feeling optimistic about life. Spending time with family and friends promotes good mental health and physical activity. By sharing your thoughts or feelings with a friend or family member, they could help you in developing coping strategies for any situation.

5. Aging & Sleep:

Sleep patterns change as we age. Seniors/elderly tend to have difficulty falling and staying asleep than when they were younger. However research demonstrates that sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood so why is falling and staying asleep more difficult in the later years?

Experts have identified the reason for these changes as Circadian Rhythms. For example older people tend to sleep and wake up early as compared to younger adults. They still get 7 to 8 hours of sleep but since they have gone to bed early in the evening, they wake up early too. This is called advanced sleep phase syndrome.

Some individuals have insomnia. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble and staying asleep. Here are some tips that can help in getting you your daily rest.

– Taking a warm bath before going to bed.

– Avoid afternoon nap.

– Drink less fluids at night so your sleep doesn’t gets disturbed by bathroom visits.

– Unwind before sleeping. It could be reading a book, watching tv or listen to music.

– Set a time to go to bed and your body will adjust to the routine.

– Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime.