10 Keys to Healthy Aging

10 Keys to Healthy Aging

Aging generally leads to several physical changes. Seniors likely know that age puts you at greater risk of osteoporosis, which leads to a higher rate of bone fractures. You probably also know that your vision and hearing starts to deteriorate with the passage of time. That’s why you need to visit the eye doctor on a regular basis and talk with your primary care physician about seeing an audiologist or getting hearing aids that might help (and which are now available over the counter). And you may have experienced that your body doesn’t move as easily as it once did. That’s why you need to indulge in more exercise (even if you don’t feel like it) and find ways to adjust as you get older and need to move in a different way, such as opting for arthritis-friendly utensils or using mobility aids to help maintain balance.


All of these physical changes mean elderly adults should be more aware of their physical safety, and may consider using aging in place home modifications and wearing a medical alert system with fall detection.


These bodily changes are the reality for most of the 10,000 baby boomers who turn 65 every day, so rest assured – you are not alone in the challenges that age can bring.But staying healthy and strong in mind, body, and spirit is something you can work on. Here are 10 keys to helping you live a longer, stronger life with better senior health.


1. Manage Stress


According to the American Institute of Stress, about 28% of adults between the ages of 50 and 80 felt depressed or hopeless during a one-month sample survey in January 2021, and 44% reported feeling stressed out about something. Sometimes the reasons are clear, such as higher stress levels among those who are suffering from a chronic illness. But other times the reasons are vague, leaving someone with the feeling that something isn’t right but the frustration of having no idea how to fix it.


Managing stress is vitally important for better health. Frequent headaches, insomnia, fatigue, muscle pain, stomach upset, changes in appetite, and much more can result from stress that is unaddressed. Work on these issues right now by looking into relaxation techniques, getting more exercise to relieve the tension, reaching out to talk with family and friends (or a professional therapist) and spending more time doing the things that bring you joy.


2. Start Each Day with Gentle Stretching


Low impact exercises are great for seniors as they are easy on the joints. In addition to promoting strength and flexibility, low-impact exercise like gentle stretching of your arms, legs, back, and core is a great way to start your day and get your system moving, which can lead to more focus, clarity, and stress relief.


If starting off each day with a stretch doesn’t sound like your thing, there are many other low-impact exercises that are perfect for seniors, such as tai chi, walking, water aerobics, cycling, or working with resistance bands. And don’t forget those fun hobbies that give you some exercise but don’t actually feel like you’re working out, such as dancing or gardening.


3. Experience New Places, Cultures, and Sights


Now is the time to get out and see the world. Make a point of discovering new places through travel groups dedicated to seniors. You can immerse yourself in different cultures, learn a new language, and test your abilities to get around in a foreign place. Yet at the same time, you have the safety net of a travel group to check on you and make sure you’re navigating the new adventures just fine.


Travel can expand your world. It can also help keep your mind sharp, as you are challenged cognitively as you work through guide books, figure out airport and train schedules, and talk with new people.


Travel groups for seniors offer everything from wheelchair-accessible tours and travel to vigorous, challenging hikes over mountain ranges. Choose your level of physical difficulty and off you go! Make sure to keep your friends and family apprised of your adventures.


4. Focus on Home Safety


All the effort you make to stay healthy can be undermined by a hard fall or other serious accident. Most accidents occur in the home, but that makes sense considering that we tend to spend most of our time there. And for the elderly, those accidents can include falls that lead to fractures or traumatic brain injury. In fact, did you know that falls account for 95% of hip fractures in the elderly, and are often the result of seniors falling sideways, such as you might when stepping out of the shower or bath?2


That’s why it’s so important to focus on safety at home. There are safety measures that can be implemented right now to reduce the risk of accidents.


You can start by clearing clutter from your home, especially from the floors and walkways. Install brighter bulbs in your light fixtures and use puck lights in areas where you need a little more illumination, like the shower or underneath your kitchen cabinets. Exchange your old twist doorknobs for lever models. And consider a medical alert bracelet or wristband to provide you with the peace of mind that if you do need help, it can be on the way immediately.


5. Make Sleep a Priority


You might have heard the misconception that the elderly need less sleep as they get older, but that’s not true—the amount of sleep you need isn’t dictated by age. But if you are getting what appears to be enough sleep and you still feel as though you haven’t slept at all, it’s time to look into why that might be. Here are some tips for better sleep as you get older:


·        Create a bedtime routine. It works for kids, and guess what? It never stops working. A sleep routine is crucial for anyone of any age. Start right now by choosing a bedtime and sticking to it every night, then add in rituals that help you ease into rest, such as a few moments of deep beathing or a cup of warm milk right before bed.

·        A better mattress can make a world of difference. If your mattress is over a decade old or you find that you are dealing with back pain much more often these days, it could be time for a firmer model.

·        If you have trouble falling asleep thanks to a racing mind, consider melatonin and other gentle sleep aids to help you calm down and get to sleep sooner.

·        Invest in a way of tracking your sleep habits. A Fitbit or an Oura ring are two good options that can tell you how many hours you spent in deep sleep, how often you snored, and so much more.

·        If nothing seems to work to get you better rest, consider a sleep study. Talk to your doctor about getting this simple, non-invasive test to better understand what your body and mind are doing at night.


6. Get Serious Hydration


Did you know that as you get older, your thirst cues start to diminish? Your body no longer reliably tells you when you need to drink more water. And that can be dangerous, as the elderly tend to become dehydrated quickly, and that can lead to serious medical problems.


Though the “eight glasses a day” guideline is one we have all heard and perhaps strived to achieve, that’s not appropriate for everyone. The best rule of thumb is to pay attention to the color of your urine. If it is pale yellow or clear, you are probably getting plenty of water.


And if you’re not a fan of water, there’s some great news—water is not the most hydrating liquid! That honor goes to milk. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the sugar, protein, and fats in milk mean it stays in your body longer, which brings more hydration. The same holds true for drinks with electrolytes, such as those that are designed to treat diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.3


Every cell of your body needs to be well-hydrated to work properly. This includes the cells in your brain that keep your cognitive function working at an optimum level. So drink up for better senior health!


7. Exercise with an Accountability Buddy


Seniors know that exercise is a key to healthy aging, but maybe you have trouble getting motivated. That’s where an accountability partner comes in.


Making an appointment to meet with the same person (or group) on a regular basis to exercise will not only get you out of the house, it will provide more socialization and give you the encouragement you need to finish the workout you started. You might also discover new places to exercise if you have the encouragement of someone else, such as choosing a new park trail or trying out a new gym.


No matter where you roam for more exercise, it’s a very good idea to carry a personal alarm button with you. Whether it’s on a medical alert pendant, an attractive watch, or a bracelet/wristband model, these options all provide you with the peace of mind that if something goes wrong, you have help at your fingertips.


This can be especially powerful if you are working out in an area away from the hustle and bustle of a gym. Mobile medical alert technology can use GPS to find your position and report that to emergency services, who will then come to you to render the assistance you need. If you are the type of person who loves to exercise outdoors and in remote locations, definitely consider an on-the-go senior life-saving alert device with GPS.


8. Think Outside the Traditional Healthcare Box


You already know you should be going to your doctor’s appointments and taking your medications as directed. But there are other aspects of healthcare that deserve a closer look.


·        Physical therapy can work wonders for those who have mobility issues and want to preserve or regain some of their ability to power through day-to-day activities and thus, keep more of their independence.

·        A massage therapist can work with your body to relieve pain, promote flexibility and range of motion, and soothe tired, aching muscles. The fact that massage can bring significant stress relief is a nice bonus!

·        A nutritionist can look at your diet and provide you with excellent tips and new meal plans that promote better health. If you’re not sure that you are getting enough nutrients or you are interested in supplements, a nutritionist can help.

·        The National Institute of Health says that acupuncture might help the symptoms of allergies and asthma, alleviate nausea and vomiting in cancer patients, and help ease incontinence in women.4 Other forms of eastern medicine, such as naturopathy and homeopathy, are seen as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and are often encouraged along with more traditional options.

·        A chiropractor uses the power of touch to ease symptoms, relieve pain, and help improve mobility. Manual manipulation of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, could help with many ailments.


9. Talk to a Counselor


Counseling is an incredibly valuable service that many of us don’t think about until we are in the midst of a mental or emotional crisis. But counseling can serve you well during any point in your life.


The CDC says that only about 20% of adults in the U.S. had engaged in counseling in 2019, and that number only included about 6% who were aged 65 and older.5 However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the overall view of mental health counseling and reduced any stigma that it carried, because suddenly, everyone was in the same lonely, isolated, and very stressful situation.


Many seniors benefit from counseling. Counseling can improve communication, boost self-esteem, provide an outlet for stressful thoughts, allow you to change self-defeating behaviors, improve relationships, and provide better management of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.


Give yourself the gift of a counseling session. You can do this in person, over the phone, or over video chat with a therapist in your area. Come prepared to discuss whatever bothers you, habits you want to break, or relationship issues that could stand a little improvement.


10. Get a Pet


Do you want a constant companion who loves you unconditionally and will engage in all sorts of fun activities with you? A dog or cat could be your new best friend!


A dog can help you get out of the house more often, make friends at the dog park, and give you a sense of purpose. A laid-back cat can purr in your lap as you relax and give you someone to talk to if you’re feeling alone.


Other pets might work as well, from hamsters or chattering birds to relaxing fish in an attractive tank. The idea is that you will find a sense of purpose from taking care of these creatures, and that good feeling will translate into other areas of your life. In fact, pets have been proven to help lower blood pressure and elevate mood. So if you’re feeling down these days or simply want to add a little more pep to your step, look into a pet that will make you smile.


Try these 10 keys to healthy aging and create better health today.








[5] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db380.htm