When maintaining health is of the utmost importance, reevaluating your current health, and preparing for the aging process is crucial. Aging is inevitable; however, we can control our behaviors and habits that will result in successful aging for a longer better life.
By doing everything we can to maintain (or gain) a healthy body and outlook, we can reduce our risk of several diseases and conditions. These conditions are often seen in the older population, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, Type II diabetes, and depression.
10 Tips for Successful Aging
1. Take Stock of Your Current Life
Now is the perfect time to take stock of your current circumstances and health. Is your health where you want it to be? Can you do something now to slow down the signs of aging in your body or mind? Consider working puzzles and learning new memory games to improve your brain function. Nutrition, Exercise, Stress Reduction, Purpose, Social Determinants of Health, not smoking, and healthy patterns are repeatedly addressed as pillars towards healthy longevity.
You may not think that financial wellness is part of successful aging, but it is. Planning for the future, whether that includes estate planning, elder care, or extra income, not only takes the stress off yourself but your loved ones as well. Find a financial advisor specializing in elder care and its laws to set yourself up for a smoother future.
2. Eat Real and Nutritious Foods
The closer to the source of your foods, the cleaner and healthier they tend to be. You want to steer clear of chemicals, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Many of these added items in packaged foods accumulate and result in cancers and other conditions. Try a new cookbook that focuses on whole foods predominantly plant-based, take a healthy cooking class, or speak to a dietitian for more information and a guided plan.
If you suffer from an eating disorder or are currently dealing with binge eating, consider consulting a therapist on how to break the cycle and regain your health. Obesity leads to several physical and psychological conditions, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, unbalanced hormones, and depression.
3. Incorporate Gentle Movement
If regular exercise has never been your forte, try adding gentle movement into your day. Not only will exercise strengthen your bones and regulate your weight, but it also contributes to the flood of brain chemicals that make you feel satisfied and happy. Exercise releases these chemicals in a cascade that also helps to relieve pain.
Intimidation is not the name of the game. You do not need to pick up a hockey game or do an extreme workout every day for an hour to reap the results exercise can give you. To start, try something easy like walking, swimming, yoga, or Tai-Chi. The point is to make gentle movement a daily habit to build strength, maintain mobility, increase flexibility and balance, and increase endurance.
4. Give Yourself a Challenge
One way to feel old is to move aimlessly through life with no purpose or goal. What types of challenges can you set for yourself? Break your challenges up into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. For example, perhaps you challenge yourself to get in 15 minutes of movement a day, read one book a week, declutter one room in your house each month, and lose 20 pounds in a year.
Challenges can include trying something entirely new for you. Perhaps you write a book, create a piece of art, or learn a new skill; any challenge that gets you out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face is a win. Choose a task that makes your soul happy.
5. Find a New Hobby
Giving yourself a purpose is one of the best ways to age successfully. Is there something that you have always wanted to try, but family, school, or work crept into your days and left you without the time? Now is the time to try that new thing. Do not worry about becoming a professional in your chosen hobby, either. Do it for fun.
Have you always wanted to play the cello or the violin? Sign up for classes. Has that corner of the backyard been calling you to create a flower garden, rock pond, or herb garden? Perhaps you want to try something that will strengthen the bond you have with your child or grandchild. How about travel, playing video games, or making videos for a social platform?
6. Connect with Others
As we age, our social circle tightens. Even if we were popular in high school with many friends, by the time we hit midlife, that inner circle of friends is much smaller. You may only have one close friend you can call, or perhaps none. Consider connecting with others with the same interests as you. Is there a group that meets locally (or online) that shares your affinity for the same hobby, series of books, movies, or sports?
If you struggle with social awkwardness, a therapist can help you identify the behaviors and reframe them into beneficial alternatives so you can make friends easier.
7. Work on Your Resiliency
Emotional resiliency is a term used to describe the ability to let events, words, and people “roll off your back.” This reaction to destructive behaviors from others frees you to heal quicker and move past disappointments. You can rely on this resiliency when faced with a health crisis, financial instabilities, and relationship issues.
Having a strong spiritual foundation will help you access your emotional resiliency when the time comes. It pushes you to face the fears but to rely on God to help you through them. It provides the hope you need for the future.
8. Stay Up-to-Date on Preventative Care
The key to successful aging is preventing conditions from starting as much as possible. Of course, you can only control so much, but preventative care can catch issues before they have a chance to spread like wildfire. This includes taking the time to see your physician for an annual exam, blood work, mammograms, colonoscopies, and prostate exams.
A simple check-up can also give you the confirmation you need that everything is okay, and preventative care includes emotional and psychological talks with your physician. If you feel you are having trouble with your emotions like anxiety and depression, ask for a specialist referral.
9. Take Sleep Seriously
Insomnia is a common ailment in older adults; however, not getting enough sleep can age us more quickly. Many people find themselves exhausted by the early evening and may even drift off to sleep in their favorite chair, only to wake up later, unable to fall back to sleep. Or, perhaps you go to bed at a decent time and sleep eight hours yet wake up exhausted as if you have been up half the night.
If this scenario sounds too familiar, speak to your physician about sleep treatments. It could be that you are struggling with sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing repeatedly stops through the night.
10. Growing Spiritually
Strengthening your walk with God can make aging a more graceful journey. The Bible teaches about how special it is to reach an older age as a Christian. “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.” (Psalms 92:13-14).
Not everyone reaches the average lifespan. It is a blessing from the Lord that He has not called us back to Him just yet. Spend this time on Earth fulfilling your purpose, influencing the people in your circle for God, and living your best life.
If you are having trouble accepting the aging process, dealing with the emotional turmoil that some face, or need help creating a healthy life plan, contact us today. We have professional therapists on staff who can work with you to make successful aging a reality.
“Baking with Grandma”, Courtesy of Christian Bowen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dancing Couple”, Courtesy of John Moeses Bauan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Yoga at Dawn”, Courtesy of Mor Shani, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fruits and Vegetables”, Courtesy of Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash.com, CC0 License