There are so many steps that we can take from an early age to help extend our lives and to simply make our Golden Years more enjoyable because we could be enjoying them with better health. Aging in place, and aging gracefully includes making good choices in our earlier years that should continue as we grow older.
Here are some steps you can take today to help extend your life and good health:
- Check your cholesterol. When you go to your doctor for an annual physical and he checks your heart and blood pressure, ask him to test your cholesterol. In order to know whether you’re eating healthfully or whether you’re on the road to a potential heart issue, knowing your cholesterol and keeping it in check is crucial.
- Your doctor should also be monitoring your blood levels and checking for diabetes. It’s estimated that Type 2 diabetes will increase from 30 million to close to 50 million by 2030 – this means that one of every four Baby Boomers could be dealing with diabetes.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s sometimes easy to rely on processed food or drive-thru foods but eating a healthful diet full of fruits, vegetables, low fat foods and limiting your intake of red meats lead to a healthier life. Look at the Mediterranean diet as a healthful way of eating; it is full of grains, vegetables, chicken, fish, fruits and limits red meat intake.
- Don’t mix alcohol with prescription drugs. Always follow the labels on the medications that you take and limit alcohol intake as it could interfere with the medicine’s effectiveness.
- Pay attention to the warning signs of a heart attack. Chest pains aren’t the only red flag warning sign of a heart attack. In women, a heart attack can feel like indigestion, pain between the shoulder blades or extreme fatigue. Diabetics sometime note they have lower back pain when they’re suffering a heart attack.
- Watch your weight. Obesity leads to myriad other health issues and when you consider that as we age, our metabolism slows down as does our activity which means we need fewer calories. Staying active as we age is beneficial to also helping keep our balance and preventing slip and fall accidents.
- Don’t lose sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Boomers rarely get enough sleep (eight hours is ideal). Your body needs sleep to heal itself from the rigors of the day. If you’re not sleeping well, talk with your doctor to uncover the root cause.
- Stay active. You may not be able to get up and jog five miles a day, but you can certainly get some muscle strengthening activities by simply taking a daily walk or a gentle yoga class. Consider too that walking three times a week can increase your brain activity and may ward off dementia. It also keeps your heart healthy, can lead to weight loss and will also decrease your blood pressure.
- Talk to someone if you’re dealing with a lot of stress. Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders can lead to depression which in turn leads to a whole host of other potential illnesses. Ask for help. Talk to a doctor or a family member. Stress can impact caregivers and if you’re in a care giving situation you may need to take a step back and ask for help from others.
- Stop smoking and drinking to excess. The risks of smoking are well noted as are the risks of drinking too much alcohol. Stopping smoking is a great decision to make at any age. Drinking in moderation – as long as it doesn’t impact any of the medications you’re taking – may not be bad for your health but you should ask your doctor if you’re not certain.
These may all be common sense steps to take, but as we age and if we want to continue aging in place and being independent, we need to take care of ourselves now so that we can age gracefully and live independently.