Growing is old is marked by aches and pains that don’t seem to fade, feeling wobbly on your feet, and spending a lot of your time alone. That may be the cliché, but it doesn’t have to be the reality. It is possible to stay fit, happy, and healthy throughout the senior years, even if you’re not in the best of shape today. Want to spend less time tending an ailing body and mind and more time enjoying your golden years? These five tips will show you where to start.
Get a Better Bed
Sleep affects everything. Without good sleep, you don’t have the physical or mental energy to implement meaningful change in your life. Unfortunately, poor sleep is one of the top complaints of older adults. Many sleep problems can be solved simply by replacing your old, lumpy mattress with a new model that relieves pressure on your spine and joints for a better night’s sleep. If you upgrade your mattress and sleep problems remain, chat with your doctor about the possibility of an underlying sleep disorder.
Eat Your Vegetables
Seniors need fewer calories than their younger counterparts, which makes the content of those calories more important than ever. To keep nutrient deficiencies at bay and maintain a strong, capable body, seniors need to pack as much nutrition as possible into each bite. That means eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, protein, and whole grains while minimizing empty calories from snack foods, sodas, and food with solid fats and added sugars. You can see examples of what healthy eating looks like for older adults at the National Institute on Aging.
Drink More Water
Older adults experience a diminished sense of thirst at the same time that their hydration needs increase. The result is seriously dehydrated seniors who are at an increased risk of various health issues, from constipation to impaired cognition. Make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking water throughout the day, even if you’re not thirsty, and eating water-rich foods like fresh fruit and soups.
You don’t get a pass on exercising just because you’re older. Exercise is necessary for healthy aging; it not only keeps your body strong and stable so you’re less prone to age-related mobility and balance problems, exercise also improves your mood for better mental health and reduces your risk of a variety of diseases and illnesses. If you haven’t been active for a while, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program so you can identify a safe starting point. Even if you’re out of shape and have health issues, there are exercises you can do to incorporate more physical activity into your life, including walking, stretching, strength training.
Make New Friends
Life can get lonely once you retire and your adult children move away, and the isolation only grows once spouses and friends begin to pass on. However, the importance of a social life in old age can’t be overstated. The Chicago Tribune puts it simply, stating “The more older people participate in social relationships, the better their overall health.” If your social network is shrinking, it’s time to get serious about meeting new people. Volunteer, join a church community, attend senior fitness classes, or pick up a social hobby to get out of the house and in the company of friends on a regular basis.
Taking control of your physical and mental well-being is the key to fulfilled and healthy aging. No more writing ill health off as a fact of growing older; when you notice new aches and pains creeping up or loneliness and depression settling in, do something about it. While it might be hard to get started (no one said change is easy!), your health and quality of life will thank you.