Aging Well: The Choice is Ours

Ken Teegardin Written by Ken Teegardin
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Chief Editor | Caregiver

Aging well is a choice for most people. The decisions you make, your habits and your lifestyle all affect how you live your senior years. Even if you made poor health choices earlier in life, you can change direction right now. It’s up to you.

Aging Well

Aging well means making smart choices for your body and for your mind and spirit. You’ll see that the choices you make in one area affect another area and so on. Let’s look at the ways you can compliment your senior living.

Steps You Can Take

Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to major health problems like heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. The problem is you won’t know the damage it’s doing until it’s done.

  • Normal- less than 120 systolic (top number); less than 80 diastolic (bottom).
  •  Prehypertension- 120 to 139 for the top number; 80 to 89 for the bottom.
  • High- 140/90 or higher.

What you can do:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Eating more fruits, vegetables and low fat foods
  • Decrease salt intake.
  • Drink less alcohol—no more than one to two drinks a day.

Exercise/control your weight. Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and many other problems.

Exercise can help you control your weight and provide other benefits like healthy blood pressure, improved mental sharpness and increased muscles strength.

What you can do:

  • Talk with your doctor first.
  • Start regular exercise, 30 to 60 minutes a day.
  • Eat healthier (fruits, veggies, low-fat foods).
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry.
  • Eat at least several hours before bed.

Control your cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. The higher the levels of cholesterol the greater the risk of heart disease and heart attack.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol, build up in the walls of your arteries causing narrowing or blockage. This restriction can cause heart disease and eventually even a heart attack.

What you can do:

  • Cut back on your fat intake.
  • Eat food high in fiber like kidney beans, apples, pears and oatmeal.
  • Eat fish with Omega-3 fatty acids like herring, salmon and halibut.
  • Eat nuts like almonds and walnuts; they help reduce “bad” cholesterol.

Don’t smoke--Drink in moderation. Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is responsible for one-third of the cancer deaths in the country.

Heavy drinking increases your risk for liver, esophagus and throat cancer. It can cause liver cirrhosis, brain damage and add unhealthy weight.

What you can do:

  • Replace smoking with a new daily habit like exercising.
  • Drink only one to two glasses a day.
  • Get support from an anonymous group.

Develop Strong Social Relationships

Studies show that having good social relationships keeps you more mentally alert. Those with active, regular friendships also seem to eat better, have stronger immune systems and are happier in general.

Friends can make you feel loved and this improves your mental health. Social support can also positively influence recovery from illnesses like heart attacks and stroke.

What you can do:

  • Stay in touch with friends regularly.
  • Get out of the house more often.
  • Develop friendships with younger people. Your peers won’t always be around.
  • Join a church, club or volunteer.

Summary

The good news about aging well: All of the steps for aging well are in your hands. The choice is yours. And even better news: It’s never too late to start. You can quit smoking today for the rest of your life. You can start eating healthy today for the rest of your life. Senior living should be about living well and aging well.

Read about ways to stay in shape with "Active Senior Living".

Updated: Mar 23, 2011

Comments

[1] Comment.
Larry Holcombe On Dec 4, 2014
Excellent advice