Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a slew of medical conditions or poor quality of life but it’s important to know what’s normal for your body as you age and what is not.
Getting older involves changes in all realms of life, from the physical to the mental to the social, emotional, and more. Some of these changes you may regard as positive and some negative. The challenge is to maximize the good parts of getting older while taking proactive steps to maintain your health and minimize the negative aspects.
Ideally, you’ll have already been practicing healthy habits throughout your life. But even if you haven’t it’s never too late to start taking proactive steps to maintain and even improve your health. Small lifestyle changes can have a big impact and adopting even a few of the habits listed here will start you on the right track.
- Stay Physically Active for a Healthy Body and Mind
Any exercise at all is better than none.
- Stay Socially Active With Friends Family and Within Your Community.
People over sixty-five who reported higher levels of social activity were more likely to experience more positive moods, fewer negative feelings, and higher levels of physical activity.
- Follow a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet
Following an eating plan like the Mediterranean diet can help you to achieve that goal.
- Don’t Neglect Yourself: Schedule Checkups and Stick to Them.
Regular checkups with your doctor, dentist, eye doctor, and specialist healthcare providers are opportunities to catch problems early and treat them before they become bigger problems.
- Take All Medication as Directed by Your Doctor.
You should always take any medication prescribed to you exactly as directed by your doctor (or doctors). Never stop taking a drug without consulting your doctor first.
- Limit Your Alcohol Consumption.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines advise that alcohol consumption be limited to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Quit Smoking to Lower Your Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease.
If you’re a current smoker, you’ll want to quit as a matter of urgency. The health benefits – A lower risk of cancer, diabetes, lung damage, high –cholesterol, blood pressure and heart rate.
- Get the Sleep That Your Body Needs
The National Sleep Foundation recommends,
Adults over sixty-five get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night.
- Practice Good Dental Hygiene Every Day.
To protect your teeth and gums, the ADA advises brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing daily and regularly cleaning any dentures you may wear.
- Discuss Changes in Sexual Function With Your Doctor
WARNING SIGNS YOU SHOULDN’T IGNORE
- ABRUPT WEAKNESS OR DIZZINESS
- SHORTNESS OF BREATH
- PRESSURE IN YOUR CHEST AREA
- TINGLING OR NUMBNESS, ESPECIALLY ON JUST ONE SIDE OF YOUR BODY
- LOSS OF BALANCE OR COORDINATION
- DIFFICULTY SPEAKING OR SWALLOWING
- EXCESSIVE SWEATING
- SUDDEN VISION LOSS OR BLURRED VISION
- RAPID WEIGHT LOSS
- PROLONGED CONFUSION
- WOUNDS THAT NEVER SEEM TO HEAL
With prompt medical attention, many people survive serious medical problems and even thrive afterward if they take it as an opportunity to double down on living healthfully and meaningfully.
Sheila Birnbaum’s professional career has been devoted to enhancing patient care. As the Director of the Patient Advocacy Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), Hamilton, NJ, she instituted numerous programs, many which received statewide recognition, including several prestigious rewards.