Your Lifestyle: The Key to Healthy Aging
Genetics play a role in your longevity, but they don’t define it. When it comes to staying healthy in your 60s, 70s, and 80s, lifestyle is more important. That may sound like bad news, but even seniors can improve their well-being through healthy habits and lifestyle changes.
Staying Active as an Older Adult
As a senior, you need at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week and strength training twice per week. You should also introduce balance exercise into your fitness regimen. Balance training improves your body awareness and stability to prevent falls.
Exercise is challenging when first starting out, but many adults come to enjoy exercise for its ability to relieve stress and pain, lift moods, and improve physical ability and independence. Exercise has also been shown to help improve gut health, which can become a problem when good bacteria and bad bacteria are unbalanced. If you’re not accustomed to exercising, talk to your doctor about your fitness plans and increase your activity level gradually to prevent injury.
Preventing Falls and Injuries
A fear of falling shouldn’t limit your life as an older adult. In addition to taking precautions before exercising and training for balance, you can prevent falls by adapting your home to your changing body. More than half of all senior falls happen in the home, but with modest renovations, you can make your house safer for aging.
- Add handrails to staircases, replacing steps with ramps where possible.
- Apply non-slip strips, mats, and flooring on stairs and wet areas.
- Install grab bars in bathrooms.
- Remove area rugs and replace high-pile carpeting with low-pile carpet or hard flooring.
- Install waist-level kitchen storage.
- Increase lighting at entrances, in stairways and hallways, and other dark areas.
Overcoming Senior Nutrition Challenges
Many seniors face nutrition difficulties, including:
- Limited incomes that make it hard to afford fresh food.
- Mobility and/or vision loss affecting cooking safety.
- Dental health problems.
- Loss of appetite or interest in cooking.
These issues put older adults at risk of malnutrition. Seniors who are malnourished have weaker immune systems and are more prone to falls and injury.
To avoid malnutrition, you need to employ strategies as you age. If cooking at home is difficult, ergonomic kitchen products or grocery delivery may help. If your health is an obstacle, talk to your doctor. For seniors struggling to afford healthy food, these resources provide assistance.
Avoiding Medication and Substance Problems
How many medications do you take? If you’re like the average 65-year-old, you’re taking six or more prescriptions. That alone isn’t a problem, but seniors run into trouble when they mix up medication schedules, take drugs in a way they’re not prescribed, or combine prescriptions with other remedies without checking with their doctor. Whether intentional or accidental, medication misuse is extremely dangerous for your health.
Alcohol is also a concern for seniors. Not only is mixing alcohol with medications risky, but many seniors don’t realize they should drink less as they get older. Due to age-related changes, your body can’t process alcohol as effectively as when you were younger.
Socializing for Health
A healthy lifestyle goes beyond your habits at home. A social life is an important part of a balanced life, and seniors who remain socially active have better physical, mental, and cognitive health than socially isolated seniors.
Staying social is different without the company of colleagues and kids, but there are many opportunities to get out and socialize:
- Get involved with a local senior center.
- Join a hobby or fitness group.
- Take a class.
- Attend neighborhood events.
- Keep in touch with family and friends.
Retirement is a life of leisure compared to your working years, but that doesn’t mean you can slack on your health! Your lifestyle influences your health at every age. If you want to feel your best today and into the future, these healthy lifestyle habits are the best way to do it.