Four Tips for Healthy Aging

The aging process has many benefits. For example, you can learn a lot about yourself and the world around you during your life.

That knowledge can serve you well when you enter your golden years. You can also earn the respect of those around you, as you age. Imparting your wisdom to them can make you feel helpful and well-regarded. However, some aspects of aging are not as positive, such as the detrimental effects the aging process can have on your health.

Among the many health problems the aging process can cause are cardiovascular problems, digestive ailments and joint stiffness. Taking a proactive approach in maintaining your health as you get older is essential for longevity and vitality. The key to healthy aging is implementing specific practices to keep you feeling and looking young as early as possible. Below are four tips for healthy aging to get you started.

Socialize More

You may have heard of the saying “dying of loneliness” but thought it was only an expression. However, scientific evidence exists which proves loneliness can actually be bad for your health, especially as you get older. Loneliness can cause the levels of certain stress hormones within your body to increase. Your immune system can also become weaker when you are lonely. Those internal changes can cause medical problems like:

  • Cold and flu susceptibility.
  • Higher diabetes risks.
  • Increased arthritis pain

Socializing more as you get older is not just important for your physical well-being. Interacting more with neighbors and friends can also improve your mental status. If you find yourself sad or depressed often, getting out and talking to people is likely to lift your spirits. Many experts also agree socializing is a good way to stimulate your brain. Interacting with the people around you can help you keep your memory sharp and think more clearly than you might when living in more isolated conditions.

If you live with other family members, socializing may be easy. However, you can still find ways to socialize, even if you live alone. Some options include:

  • Calling or video conferencing with friends and family members.
  • Volunteering to babysit your grandchildren or other children you know.
  • Joining a community group or volunteering for a charity.
  • Signing up for a class in a subject that interests you.
  • Exercising regularly with a group of other people.
  • Scheduling weekly dinner outings with loved ones.

Improve Your Sleeping Habits

Getting enough sleep can be difficult at any age. However, as you get older, you are more likely to suffer from insomnia. Insomnia can occur for reasons like stress, napping too much during the day or medication interactions. Regardless of the cause, the lack of sleep will harm your brain. Your brain works hard around the clock to keep your body functioning. It relies on a predictable amount of sleep to work efficiently. When sleep is lacking, your higher cognitive functions can suffer. The result may be difficulty concentrating or recalling information.

Improving your sleeping habits may be as simple as taking fewer naps during the day so you will be more tired at night. However, if that does not work, other steps can be taken to help you get better sleep. Some of them include:

  • Sleeping in a dark room or wearing a sleep mask.
  • Reducing your caffeine intake, especially in the evening hours before bed.
  • Being more physically active during the day to cause more tiredness at night.
  • Sleeping on a set schedule each evening.

If you take those precautions and still can’t sleep, don’t give up. It may be an isolated incident. Reading a book or performing some other quiet activity for a few minutes may cause you to fall to sleep. However, if the problem persists, you may have sleep apnea or another sleep disorder requiring medical assistance.

Keep a Positive Attitude

You have probably heard about the power of positive thinking. If you think it’s just a saying, think again. According to a 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and a 2008 study by the University of Pittsburgh, positive thinking can have a profound positive impact on your physical health and your mental health. Both studies specifically found reductions in heart disease risks among participants.

Over the years, many other studies have also been conducted on the physical and mental impact of a positive attitude on the aging process. Experts overwhelmingly agree staying positive can prolong your life expectancy. Having a positive mental attitude can allow you to:

  • Form stronger emotional bonds with other people.
  • Recover from negative events in your life faster.
  • Actively participate in more daily activities.
  • Avoid bouts of depression that can come with age.

See Your Doctor Regularly and Monitor Your Medications

One of the best ways to ensure healthy aging is to see your doctor regularly. It can be tempting to only go to the doctor when you are sick. However, visiting him or her when you are healthy for routine screenings can help you to avoid many illnesses and identify others while they are in treatable stages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular visits to your doctor are particularly important for:

  • Detecting cancer early.
  • Keeping up-to-date on your immunizations.
  • Detecting or monitoring high blood pressure or diabetes.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA), seeing your doctor regularly is always a good idea. However, it will become more essential as you get older, since you may have more medical conditions to manage. You also may start taking more medications to control those conditions. In fact, you may even need to see multiple specialty doctors. If that is the case, constant communication with your medical team will be vital to prevent misunderstandings and medication interactions. Tell your doctors about:

  • Your medical history.
  • Family medical history.
  • Your lifestyle and eating habits.
  • All the medications you take, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins.

Your primary care physician can help you if you are unsure about how or when to take your medications. Ask him or her if you need to eat before taking certain medications or if there are other special instructions you must follow. He or she can write down the instructions for you. If you are still unsure, verify those instructions with your pharmacist.

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