Aging, growing old, getting up there, past your prime; however you say it, it’s going to happen to all of us. It can be difficult too, and scary. Especially if you’re faced with aging alone or with limited assistance. Many people even have special needs as they grow older. The basics, however, remain the same. So, here are five steps that will help you age your best.
Maintain Your Stability. Being stable helps prevent falls and keeps you doing the things you love. Aging, infections, injuries, medications, circulatory and foot problems can all cause poor balance. Talk to your doctor if you:
- Feel unsteady on your feet.
- Sometimes lose your balance or fall.
- Feel the room spinning.
- Feel as if you’re moving when you’re not.
- Feel lightheaded.
- Have blurred vision.
Keep Good Friends. Making time for friends protects our health as we grow older. Those with stronger social circles tend to live longer and better. Friends help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and heart rate. Get started by talking on the phone. Or, liven up your social network with a monthly outing or brunch. You can also combine social activity with exercise by meeting a friend for regular walks or visits to the gym.
Mind Your Memory. In your 20’s, you start losing brain cells a few at a time. Your body also starts making less of the chemicals your brain cells need to work. The older you are, the more these changes can affect your memory.
Still, many things besides aging can cause memory problems, such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, medication side effects, strokes, and alcohol abuse. It’s often difficult to decide if you have a more serious problem. Talk with your doctor if you:
- Forget things more than ever before.
- Forget how to do things you’ve done many times.
- Repeat things in the same conversation.
- Have trouble making choices.
Get Exercise. Heard it a million times? Understand one thing: if you’re going to pick one way to live longer (and better), exercise should be it. Inactivity is linked to a laundry list of illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression, and more. Plus, exercise can improve your balance, important to preventing falls and disabling bone fractures.
The earlier you start and the longer you keep it up, the more you benefit. It’s never too late to start. In fact, older folks benefit most. If you’re not sure how to start, ask your doctor.
Eat Balanced Meals. Keep it simple. To control your weight (and get more vital nutrients), eat more fruits and vegetables. Switch to whole-grain cereals, breads, pasta, and rice. And, restrain your sweet tooth (at least a little; remember dark chocolate in moderation is good for you). And, if you’re living alone, find others to eat with or ask a relative to join you on occasion. Eating with someone helps you eat better and keeps you stronger and more active.
Here’s another tip for people who are a little wiser today for having a few years behind them. Southwest Health and Park Place Living Center teamed up to create a free club just for you. Young At Heart is a group for curious people, open to new ideas and new friendships.
Each month the club’s Super Socials are free and open to all members and their friends. Young At Heart socials almost always feature an interesting speaker… many of the most interesting speakers around, actually. Light snacks and refreshments, including wine are always provided. Even better yet, there’s absolutely no cost to members for these Super Socials, other than the price for spending a little time with the rest of us.
And so you never forget when they are, the club always holds them the second Thursday of each month from 4:30 to 6pm at Park Place Senior Living on Elm Street in Platteville. They have a beautiful main meeting area and other adjacent rooms that help make us all comfortable, so we can relax and enjoy our time together. Consider joining Young At Heart! Find out more at southwesthealth.org/YAH