Good health and happiness are interlinked at any age. But as the risk of disease and immobility increases the older you get, it’s not always clear how seniors can stay fighting fit well into their golden years.
Genetics plays a large role in your risk factors for some health issues. But don’t throw in the towel just yet. Everyday decisions and lifestyle habits can have an enormous impact on your health and happiness as you age.
Take a look at this list to see what you can do to stay happy and healthy as you age.
Table of Contents
1. See Your Doctor Regularly
Having an annual check-up is a great idea for people ages 65 and up. This yearly visit sets a baseline for your health that helps your doctor catch any anomalies, giving them a chance to diagnose and treat issues earlier.
Arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, respiratory illness, and balance issues are common problems faced by seniors. However, you should speak to your doctor any time you have a concern about your health — even if it doesn’t fit into the typical box.
Depending on your diagnosis, you may need regular assistance and care to make sure all your health needs are met. While some seniors move into long-term care facilities to receive this attention, those that prefer to age in place have at-home care options.
You can find home health care services that come to you, providing registered nursing supervision and kind companionship in a familiar place. These at-home care services focus on fostering independence and joyful living, no matter your health care needs. That way, you can receive the medical support you need without worrying about having to leave your home for good.
2. Get a Good Night’s Rest
You might have heard that older people need less sleep than anyone else. In reality, this is a tremendous misconception about sleep and seniors. Older adults require just as much sleep as any other adult — about seven to eight hours each night.
Unfortunately, seniors often struggle to get quality Zs. According to the Sleep Foundation, seniors spend more time in the light stages of sleep. Since they don’t experience deeper sleep as often, small noises in the middle of the night can wake them up easier.
Less restful sleep can be detrimental to your health, making it harder to pay attention, remember details, or find the energy to do things. Chronic sleep deprivation can also lead to serious health concerns, including depression, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and a compromised immune system.
If you find it hard to fall and stay asleep, the Sleep Foundation recommends creating a sleep routine that eliminates distractions and encourages rest. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and avoid alcohol and screen time before bed. Meanwhile, you should incorporate physical activity throughout the day to burn off any pent-up energy.
3. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a nutritious diet rich in leafy greens and lean protein is the key to optimal health for any age. For seniors in particular, your choice of what goes on your plate can help you stave off cognitive decline.
Experts in dementia care recommend older adults follow the MIND diet. Short for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, the MIND diet combines Mediterranean cooking with Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) tips.
To move beyond its many acronyms, the MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods, such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and leafy vegetables. Meanwhile, you should limit (or avoid altogether) cheese, red meat, baked goods, and foods high in saturated fats. Eating this way can lower your risk of cognitive impairment by 35 percent.
4. Get Active
Movement is one of the best ways to stay healthy as you get older. Regular exercise comes with a long list of benefits:
- Boosts your immune system
- Builds muscle strength and endurance
- Improves your coordination and balance
- Increases bone density
- Prevents diseases like diabetes and heart issues
- Reduces the risk of falls
- Reduces depression
- Relieves stress
According to the CDC, seniors should work out just as much as any adults, provided they’re in relatively good shape. That means you should aim for 150 hours of physical activity, including two days of weightlifting.
You can hit these targets by walking every day, joining a gym, or following along with an online workout video for seniors.
If you have mobility issues or other health concerns, scale your activity to your abilities. Anything that gets you up and moving is better than sitting in a chair, even if you don’t work up a sweat. Even simple movements like gentle stretching and standing can help you avoid a sedentary lifestyle and all its consequences.
If you’re unsteady on your feet or worried about how your health may factor into a new fitness routine, reach out to your doctor. If you receive at-home health care, ask your nurse or Personal Support Worker for advice. They may recommend a physiotherapist to guide you through exercises safely.
5. Give Your Brain a Workout
Your brain is another muscle that needs regular training, just like your biceps and quads. To give your mind a workout, you’ll have to trade in your dumbbells and yoga mat for books and brain games.
Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and a good book can prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduce your risk of dementia.
However, anything that challenges your memory, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving skills is a good way to sharpen your mind. Experts in dementia care recommend the following activities as perfect hobbies for seniors looking to keep their minds sharp:
- Playing music
- Learning a new language
Make These 5 New Healthy Habits Today!
You don’t have to overhaul your whole life to be healthier. You can start a more healthful chapter of your life simply by taking a walk around the block and eating more leafy greens. But for the most impact on your health and happiness, try to incorporate all the tips you learned here today. They’re at their most effective if you can do them together.