Thanks to smarter health choices, better nutrition and more access to healthcare, people are living longer. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double by 2060 with the age group’s share of the total population rising from 16 to 23 percent.
All of this means it’s more important than ever to take steps today so you age well tomorrow – mind, body and spirit. The good news is that much of how you age is up to you and the choices you make. Although some factors, such as genetics, may be out of your hands, there are several others that you control, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and establishing a strong support system.
Taking steps to age well starts when you’re young. In fact, the earlier you begin, the better off you’ll be later in life. Making healthy lifestyle choices and establishing good habits when you are younger can do a lot of good when you’re older. It’s also wise to take stock of your health on a regular basis. Having a primary care provider, and seeing him or her on an annual basis, can help you prevent disease and chronic health conditions or diagnose disease during its earliest, most treatable stages.
Here are eight additional tips to help you age well:
- Watch your diet – As you age, eating a higher nutrient diet can help you stay healthier and feel better. Put the focus on eating vegetables and fruit, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fat. It’s also smart to maintain a healthy weight. That’s because longevity is linked with staying leaner.
- Exercise regularly – The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. This breaks down to five 30-minute workouts. Great options to work up a sweat include power walking, swimming, cycling and strength training.
- Get enough sleep – Most older adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Quit smoking – If you need help quitting, consider joining a smoking cessation program.
- Limit alcohol consumption – As you age, consuming alcohol can take more of a physical toll. Consider cutting back or abstaining if you find you don’t feel well after drinking alcohol.
- Take care of your skin – With age, your skin changes and often becomes drier, thinner and more susceptible to damage or skin infections. To help keep your skin healthy, use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser and moisturizer. Using a humidifier can also help your skin retain moisture.
- Spend time with family and friends – Studies show that people who have a stronger support system with more satisfying relationships tend to experience less age-related mental decline. People who spend more time with family and friends may also have stronger immune systems.
- Keep learning and find new hobbies – Keeping your mind active by learning new things and trying different activities can help it stay sharp as you age. Sign up for a class through your local parks and recreation department or take up a new hobby, such as painting. Now’s the time to explore activities you may have been too busy to try when you were younger.
A final tip is to see your primary care provider for an annual wellness visit. Make an appointment online or call us at 630-527-6363. In addition, schedule a free, confidential, one-on-one mental health assessment or call 630-305-5027.