September is Healthy Aging Month
What does healthy aging mean? Although it’s different for each person, healthy aging is about maintaining a high quality of life at every stage, and cultivating habits that allow you to continue to enjoy your life and do the things you love to do. And while aging is inevitable, aging well is a choice.
Six things you can do to make healthy aging a little smoother:
- Eat well: What you put in your body can have huge implications for your health and well-being. Chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease can be exacerbated by a diet full of sugar and processed foods. Even if you have struggled or are just starting out, it’s never too late to learn to eat well. Start by adding more fruits and vegetables and minimizing processed foods and sugar. Consult a nutritionist or join a weight loss group if you need support.
- Stay connected: Having strong connections to a community is one of the best predictors of good health for older Americans. It doesn’t matter whether you join a book club, dance class, religious community or social club: find some way to connect and spend time with others on a regular basis in order to maintain your mental health and joy for life.
- Plan for medical emergencies: We all hope to avoid disease as long as possible. But the truth is, as we age, disease and medical issues become much more common. Having a plan for both minor and major health events will ensure that a stressful situation doesn’t become worse. Talk with your doctor about creating an advanced directive so that your healthcare wishes can be carried out, even if you are unable to communicate. Discuss these difficult subjects with your close family and friends beforehand, instead of waiting until it is too late.
- Check your insurance: Make sure you have a strong insurance policy that will see you through health issues, both large and small. If you’re nearing 65, go to Medicare.gov to begin the process of getting Medicare coverage. Review your life insurance so that you know your loved ones will be taken care of long term.
- Stay active: Exercise is an excellent way to maintain both physical and mental health, as well as prevent injury. Make time in your schedule to bike, hike, swim, go to the gym or take an exercise class each week. Even just getting outside for a walk each day can go a long way towards boosting your mood and overall health.
- Find a hobby: Stay mentally active and sharp by doing activities that will engage your brain “muscles.” Learn a musical instrument, read, work on puzzles or join a philosophy group. Try to do something each day that requires mental effort.
- Vaccinations: Get them.
Remember, healthy aging is a choice, and it’s never too late to improve your quality of life.