Everything You Need to Know about Healthy Aging
Aging not only gives you wrinkles and grey hair but also problems with your bones, skin, stomach, heart, sexuality, etc. Older adults might get inundated with several changes and transitions. So, how does one manage this such anxieties and fears?
This is where the concept of healthy aging comes into picture. World Health Organization (WHO) defines Healthy Ageing “as the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well being in older age”.
Interestingly, the boomer generation — around 78 million people born between 1946 and 1964 —are redefining what it means to be an older adult. Instead of retirement and rocking chairs, many baby boomers are working longer and enjoying a much more active lifestyle than their parents did.
Healthy aging means finding new things you enjoy, learning to adapt to change, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones.
Problems that One Faces while Aging:
- Memory and Thinking Skills: Your brain undergoes many changes as you age. And with a doubt, these changes have some effects on your memory and thinking abilities. For example, it is common for older people to forget familiar names or words. They may sometime find it difficult to multitask.
- Cardiovascular System: The most common change in the cardiovascular system is stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them.
- Bones, Joints and Muscles: With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density. Bones turn weaker, and they become more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — the factors that affect your coordination, stability and balance.
- Digestive System: Age-related structural changes in the large intestine can result in more constipation in older adults. Other contributing factors include lack of physical activity and exercise, not drinking enough fluids, and following low-fiber diet.
- Skin: With age, the skin thins out and loses its elasticity to a greater extent. To be exact, it turns more fragile. Decreased production of natural oils might make your skin drier. Wrinkles, age spots and small growths called skin tags are more common.
- Sexuality: With age, sexual needs and performance change significantly. For example, in case of women, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. For men, it might take longer to get an erection, and the erection may not be as firm as it used to be.
There are some diseases that become more common as we age. However, getting older does not necessarily mean poor health or that you will be confined to a walker or wheelchair.
Many older adults enjoy great health, often better than many younger people. Many research papers show that preventive measures like healthy eating, exercising, and managing stress can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases or injuries later in life.
September is Healthy Aging month – follow these tips to keep your health at its best!
Yearly Physicals: Yearly physicals are important as they prevent the turning of minor problems into severer health issues.
With regular check-ups, it becomes possible for your health expert to identify such problems in early stage and suggest immediate treatment based on your health condition. Given the fact that some diseases can be very subtle and may not show their signs or symptoms until they reach the next level, you need to see your doctor regularly, especially if you live a kind of lifestyle that can expose you to such risks.
Exercise: Exercise is the number one contributor to longevity. Exercise helps you maintain your strength and agility, increases vitality, improves sleep, gives your mental health a boost, and can even help diminish chronic pain.
Eat Well: As you age, your relationship with food may change along with your body. A decreased metabolism changes in taste and smell. Slower digestion may affect your appetite and how your body processes food you eat
Eat a diet balanced in protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Older adults should keep their protein intake at approximately 1-1.2 gm/kg of protein. For example, an individual weighing 150 pounds should have approximately 70-100 gm of protein daily.
In general, get your protein needs from food, not from powdered supplements. Avoiding sugary foods and refined carbs and loading up on high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead will help you feel more energetic.
Get Plenty of Sleep: Many adults complain sleep problems as they age. The complaints they make are often related to insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and frequent waking during the night.
But getting older doesn’t really bring sleep problems. Developing healthy sleeping habits is the key to ensure quality sleep every night.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool, avoid artificial light from screens for at least one hour before bed. Also, increase your physical activities during the daytime. A soothing bedtime ritual, like taking hot shower or playing music can help you wind down and get a good night’s sleep.
Cope with Changes: As you age, there will be periods of both joy and stress. It’s important to build your resilience and find healthy ways to cope with these unavoidable challenges.
Focus on things you’re grateful for. Acknowledge and express your feelings to your loved ones. Accept what you can’t change.
Find Joy in Doing Things: For healthy aging, continue your ability to find meaning and joy in life. Everyone has different ways of experiencing meaning and joy.
Try picking up an old hobby or develop a new one. Learn something new, such as an instrument, a foreign language, a new game, or a new sport.
Travel to somewhere new. Go on short trip to places you’ve never been.
Connect Regularly with Friends and Family: Spend time with people you love. It Even if you are not close by, call or text them frequently to keep your bonding fresh.
Make New Friends: As you lose people in your circle, it is vital to make new connections, so your social life doesn’t decline. Make it a point to befriend with people who are younger than you. Younger friends can reenergize you and help you see life from a fresh perspective.
There you have it. Hope these tips and hacks help you deal with loneliness and common health conditions as you age. Keep your focus on healthy eating, getting enough sleep and avoiding stress.
If you are experiencing physical changes, followed by prolonged spells of stress, you might want to consult a physician? At EPIC Primary Care, we can provide you with immediate attention and best care.