How does one age well? It’s a subject that’s been explored since antiquity, with no definitive answers. While there may be no cure for aging, there are ways to ensure that you enjoy your retirement years in the healthiest way possible.
What to Expect
Knowing what to expect as you age is critical to making sure that you get the care that you need. In many cases, we tend to assume that low energy and various aches and pains are related to “getting older” when there could be something more serious at play. As we age, our heart rate tends to decrease, our bones shrink in size and density, and we may experience changes in our bladder control and bowel movements. While these are often normal changes, they can be offset or slowed by me
dication and lifestyle choices. Note that these changes should also be gradual. Always consult your doctor if you experience dramatic shifts in weight, energy levels or libido in a short period of time.
Few enjoy regular trips to the doctor, but missing those appointments can cost you in the long run. Regular checkups can catch potentially life-threatening illnesses early, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The earlier you catch these conditions, the more likely it is that you can manage them effectively. Visiting your doctor consistently can also help prevent disease. Your doctor will likely recommend vaccinations to prevent common illnesses such as pneumonia and the flu. Modern medicine has come a long way, but you can only put it to work for you if you visit your doctor.
Eat Real Food. Move Often.
There’s not much health advice that all experts agree on, except for this: eating whole, unprocessed foods and moving regularly is good for your health at any age. Getting older may mean slowing down, but it doesn’t mean you should stay still. There are a range of activities seniors can engage in at any age, whether that’s hiking, water aerobics, weight lifting, or simply walking. Check with your doctor about a regular fitness plan that’s right for you. If your doctor says it’s appropriate, at the very least you should ensure that you get up and walk 20-30 minutes each day, even if you must use an assistive device like a cane or walker. It can make a big difference to your health. If you have questions about your diet, a nutritionist can help, but as a general rule, choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is your best bet for healthy aging.
Healthy aging isn’t just about what you do now, but also in how you determine your care in the future. The CDC recommends that each of us prepare an advanced care plan for ourselves, our care givers, and our loved ones. This plan can act as a road map for your health down the line to ensure that your care always adheres to your preferences – whether or not you are able to speak for yourself during these critical times. So ensure that you have a plan in place for your continuum of care.