As Baby Boomers get older, the commitment to ensuring healthy aging has become a hot topic. We believe the path to healthy aging is through healthy living. In other words, it’s not a matter of quick fixes or anti-aging fads, but of lifestyle enrichment and improvement.
In this post, you’ll find foundational advice for aging well so that you can continue to thrive after the age of 55
1. Eat Healthy
Combined with exercise, eating enough nutrients in the right amounts can help prevent heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Did you know: When we get older, our bodies need fewer calories, but just as many nutrients.
Look for nutrient-dense foods to give your body the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs with fewer calories. Avoid foods that contain “empty calories,” like sugary drinks and desserts, white breads and white rice, pastas made from refined grains, and foods containing high amounts of butter or shortening. Although sugars, fats, and salts in food hold tremendous attraction, what we ingest can go a long way to either achieving or sabotaging our quality of life and longevity.
Useful tips: Add these nutrient-dense foods to your diet:
- A variety of fruits and vegetables (e.g. leafy greens, berries, oranges, eggplant, broccoli, red bell pepper)
- Lean meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs
- Beans, nuts, and seeds
- Fat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, soy or rice milk that is fortified with vitamin D
- Whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, brown rice
2. Stay Physically Active
Exercise keeps us energized, sharpens our memory, and boosts our mood. It can also keep us healthier, for longer.
Did you know: Doing regular physical activity that you enjoy can help you get better quality sleep, reduce stress, and avoid falls.
To get started, begin with an activity you find enjoyable and start slowly. Work your way up to a goal you’ve set for yourself. For example, you might start with a 10 minute walk the first week. Then, gradually increase your speed, length of time, or add hand-held weights.
Useful tips: Remember these practices for your best and safest exercise experience.
- Take time to warm up and cool down
- Invest in a supportive, custom-fit pair of shoes
- Drink plenty of water
- Stop if you experience pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath
- Need a little extra help? Consider engaging a trainer, a workout buddy or friend who can help to keep you motivated. Be sure to choose someone who is sensitive and informed about achieving personal fitness at your age and stage of life
3. Quit Smoking
Contrary to what most people think, it’s never – ever – too late to quit. In fact, our bodies will begin to heal and reverse the health risks associated with smoking within 30 minutes of finishing our last cigarette.
Did you know: Smoking is linked to bone fractures, erectile dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, macular degeneration, colorectal cancer, and many other severe health problems in seniors.
Quitting takes planning, commitment, and determination. But the effort you put in will pay major dividends toward your health and longevity.
Useful tips: Follow these tried-and-tested recommendations to help you quit
- Stay away from triggers (i.e. certain people, places, or situations where you’d normally smoke)
- Surround yourself with support (i.e. people who serve as reminders for why you’re trying to quit)
- Bring a snack for when you feel a craving (e.g. your favourite candy, gum, or healthy snack)
- Take up a hobby that can distract you from the cravings
- Take it one day at a time – not everyone can quit cold turkey
4. Prevent Injuries
As we get older, our risk of falling increases. Changes to our vision, hearing, medications, health issues, or simply normal aging can increase our risk of a tumble. For some older adults, everyday activities such as taking a shower or walking down the front steps may require additional support to prevent a fall.
Did you know: People who walk barefoot fall more frequently. Wearing shoes with good support reduces the risk of foot and ankle injuries and falls.
Keep doing the things you enjoy, and take some precautionary steps to reduce your risks of being off balance and at risk of a fall and related injury.
Useful tips: Some precautions to prevent injury in your home
- Remove or tape down loose carpet and throw rugs
- Use nightlights in the halls and bathrooms
- Keep paths clear of electrical cords and clutter
- Install grab bars in the bathroom next to toilet and shower or bathtub
- Use nonslip mats in showers and bathtubs
5. Keep on Top of Oral Health
Oral issues that affected us when we were younger can increase or worsen with age. Oral infections have been linked to bigger health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. After the age of 55, regular dental check-ups are important for preventative, reparative and maintenance regarding good oral health. Plan to see your dentist regularly.
Did you know: About 75 percent of people aged 60 and over have only some of their natural teeth.
Poor dental health impacts overall health, which means regular care of our teeth and gums can help prevent health problems down the road.
Useful tips: Keep brushing and flossing daily and get checkups every six months.
6. Check Your Eyesight Regularly
We experience changes to our vision as well as hearing loss as we age. Common eye problems include cataracts and glaucoma. Vision loss can also increase our risk of falling.
Did you know: Most people notice changes to their vision, including a gradual decline in their ability to read small print or focus on close objects, by age 50.
Useful tips: You can take good care of your eyes by taking care of your overall health
- Get a good night’s sleep to give your eyes a chance to clean out dust and allergens
- Give your eyes the blood circulation and oxygen intake they need with regular exercise
- Have your eyes screened regularly for health issues
- If you wear glasses, you should have your prescription checked every year to accommodate any changes.
As human beings we all have three primal needs: to be accepted, connected, and loved. Socializing leads to a better quality of life for everyone, particularly older adults. Time spent with friends, children, and grandchildren help us feel connected, especially if we have mobility issues.
Did you know: Medical researchers at the University of Rochester found socializing is key to keeping our brains sharp as we age.
Building relationships with the people around us is also known to increase self-esteem, reduce stress, and even improve physical health.
Useful tips: Here are some common ways to build interpersonal relationships
- Volunteer with a local organization
- Get involved in a church group
- Join a gym or club
- Attend a senior living community for activities
- Visit friends or family
- Start your own shared interest group (e.g. walking, knitting, golfing, zuma, card playing)
Were these tips helpful?
Whether you’re concerned about chronic diseases, mobility, or mental health, the key to healthy aging is a healthy lifestyle. For more articles and helpful resources on aging well, visit our Aging Well 55+ page: http://www.tyndale.ca/family-life/services/aging-well
Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com