Among the many definitions for “Healthy Aging,” being able to do the things you value for as long as possible, is perhaps the most notable. Healthy aging is about developing healthy behaviors, habits, and activities that will allow you to remain happy and healthy as you age. Healthy lifestyle practices should be considered by people of all ages, and the earlier you develop a healthy lifestyle, the longer you can reap the benefits.
Healthy aging is defined by each person, and by the goals they have for themselves as they grow older. Commonly, healthy aging is comprised of many things, including exercise and activity, diet and portion control, social engagement, personal care (sleep, medication management, stress reduction, etc…), and planning for the future. Let’s go into each of these topics to help you learn about why each aspect of healthy aging is important and tips to help you start making progress towards your health goals.
Exercise and Activity
Exercise and physical activity are well-known aspects of living healthy. As people get older, our bodies change, and the level of physical activity that we can endure is lessened. Those who train extensively and prioritize exercise can maintain high levels of physical fitness into older age, however, for most of us, you must adapt to these changes.
Consider activities that you enjoy and work to incorporate moderate aerobic activity into these activities. If you like to read, try riding a stationary bike while you read. If you like to be outdoors, go for a walk in the park a few times a week. Any amount of physical exercise is better than doing nothing! Start small and continue to increase the difficulty or amount of time for your exercise. A great program for adults 65 and older is called Silver Sneakers. Silver Sneakers offers free and discount memberships for gyms, studios, and other activities for older adults to remain active. You can also read their 9 BestTypes of Exercise for Older Adults.
Diet and Portion Control
Diet and Portion Control are well-documented aspects of healthy living. Over the past few years, there has been a huge spike in the number of “diet programs” (Keto, Whole30, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, etc...). These types of diets can certainly be helpful, but the key is to remain consistent and continue eating healthy over time. Therefore, it is commonly recommended to make small changes to your everyday diet that are sustainable; many of these small changes over time can make a big difference.
Diet experts recommend reducing the amount of bread, salt, added sugars, and solid and trans fats that we consume. One example that is notorious for aiding in unhealthy eating habits is fast food. Reducing the amount of these types of food in your diet will help your body feel better, help reduce your calorie intake, and improve your overall health. While reducing certain foods from your daily intake, diet experts recommend adding the following types of foods to your meal planning: fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean protein like chicken, turkey, and fish. Cutting out certain foods from your diet can be challenging. Start small by cutting back on candy or sweets you eat, and instead add a sweet fruit (pineapple, strawberries, peaches, etc...). When you have a craving for a snack, try replacing snack food like chips, candy, or crackers with healthier choices like nuts, whole-grain crackers, or fruit. The same logic applies for lunch and dinner. Start your diet with Salmon, Tilapia, or Shrimp for one meal a week to ease into a routine. You should start to notice the effects of eating better by the way your body feels and your mental alertness.
Portion control (the amount of food we eat) is critical to maintaining a healthy diet. It is important to train our bodies to need a smaller amount of food. Fast food has spoiled us with huge portions for little money, and as consumers, we are trained to want to get the most out of our money. Work to shift your way of thinking away from getting the most food for the least amount of money to thinking of how you can get the best food for the least amount of money.
If you are new to portion control, here are a few tips to help along the way:
- Check food labels and review restaurant menus for calorie and serving size information. The amount of food you eat should correlate with the amount of exercise you partake in. Keep in mind, the more energy you expend being active, the more food you need to restore and keep your level of energy.
- Slow down while eating. Wait 5-10 minutes after your first helping before getting seconds. It takes our bodies (stomach) a few minutes to feel full, so wait a few minutes before getting more. You may realize you are full and don’t need the second serving.
Remaining social while aging is also important to your health and wellbeing. Humans are social creatures, some certainly more than others, but we all need friendship, love, and communication from others. You should work to remain connected with your friends, neighbors, and community as you age. Studieshave shown that adults with better social networks and connections have beenshown to live longer than adults living in isolation.
Volunteering, joining the local community center, scheduling weekly get togethers with friends, and joining Silver Sneakers are a few ways to remain social. Think of the activities you enjoy, or used to enjoy, and come up with a way to do that with friends or community groups on a regular basis. These activities are meant to be fun and enjoyable, not stressful or overwhelming.
Personal care includes a variety of other personal activities such as sleep, stress management, medication management, and brain activities. Each of these personal care activities plays a role in how we age and how we feel as we age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 3 adults does not get enough sleep each night. It is recommended that most adults (18 and over) should get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep, with older adults (65+) requiring a minimum of 5-6 hours of sleep. Side effects of too little sleep include daytime fatigue, weakened immune system, trouble with thinking and concentration, mood changes, and more. Sleep is extremely important to how we feel and act each day, so try to follow these 11 tips forhealthy sleep.
Learning to manage stress and cope with stressful situations is beneficial as we age. Stress is natural and experiencing good days and bad days is completely normal. In fact, most considerations for healthy aging (exercise, diet, sleep) are also ways to manage stress.
Brain activity and medication management also play a role in healthy aging. With the growth of adults experiencing Alzheimer’s Disease, keeping the brain stimulated and active is increasingly important. Try challenging yourself to learn something new every month of few months, this is excellent for your brain. Doing puzzles, sudoku, cross words, and other brain games will help keep your mind active and processing new information. Regarding medication management, adults need to be aware of the medications they take and how those medications affect their bodies, and how their medications may interact together. Polypharmacy is a risk for older adults, as 30% of older adults take 8 or more prescription medications.
Planning for the Future
Another important consideration for healthy aging is planning for the future. Whether you are planning for your next job, retirement, home modifications, or future care needs, there is planning and considerations needed at each stage of life. As we age, planning for changes we may experience becomes more challenging, but also more important. Talking about future care needs, moving, when to stop driving, and other topics are extremely difficult. Expressing your wishes and desires is the best way to ensure you are on the same page as those around you, and the best way to make sure your wishes are fulfilled. Establish a will, decide if you want life-saving measures, and talk about future living situations (downsizing, home care or assisted living if care is needed, etc…). These conversations can be hard, but the outcomes are always better than if you avoid these topics.
Heathy Aging is Relative
Healthy aging is unique for every person. As you age, you are different than your friends, family members, and others around the world. Healthy aging is what you make of it, and any strides you take towards improving your health and wellbeing as you grow older is impactful. For some, this means increasing exercise to 5 days a week, and for others, it may be just starting to walk one day a week! At Tranquility, we want everyone to enjoy their life to the fullest, and considering your health as you age is one aspect of wellbeing and happiness.
Dealing with Incontinence?
Another aspect of healthy aging is managing health conditions. Incontinence, or involuntary loss of bladder or bowel, is a condition that affects about 50% of adults over 65, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Incontinence is not a normal part of aging, and is the result of another disease, condition, or age-related changed in the body.
At Comfort Plus, our premium incontinence brands, like Tranquility, allow you total protection and confidence. You can get back to socializing with friends, exercising, attending events, and doing all the activities you love with dignity. When dealing with incontinence, Tranquility helps you manage your incontinence so you can live the healthy lifestyle you want to live as you age. If you are dealing with incontinence and want to live your best life, contact Comfort Plus today!
Disclaimer: This blog provides general information about incontinence, health, and related subjects. The content provided in this blog, and any linked resources, are not intended and should not be taken as medical advice. If you or any other person has a medical concern, please consult a licensed physician.