September is Healthy Aging® Month! This annual celebration focuses on the positive aspects of growing older. Its purpose is to encourage people over the age of 50 to take personal responsibility for their health. The event centers on a passion for life rather than on the perils of aging. The theme of the celebration is, “it is never too late to achieve a better quality of life.”
The September is Healthy Aging Month observance began more than 20 years ago as part of a television show exploring the importance of nutrition and fitness for the prevention of heart disease.
You can participate in Healthy Aging Month by incorporating these tips into your everyday life.
Top 8 Tips for Healthy Aging
1. Age is just a number
Acting your age may be preventing you from having fun and exercising. Some people may have a pre-conceived notion they should act in a certain way once they reach a certain age. They may trade in their tennis racquet for a rocking chair, for example, or watch music on television instead of going to a live concert in the park.
Instead of acting your age, think back to your best year so far and picture yourself as if you were in that moment again. If you loved who you were when you were 42, act like you did when you were that age.
2. Be positive in your thoughts, words and actions
As the old song goes, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Mayo Clinic says positive thinking can have many health benefits, including increased lifespan, lowered rates of depression, lowered stress, improved heart health and better resistance to the common cold and other illnesses.
Positive thinking often starts with positive “self-talk,” which is the stream of unspoken thoughts running through your head. Self-talk can be positive or negative. Make a conscious effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You may be surprised the difference it makes!
A few more tips on thinking positive include distancing yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life and turning off the computer and going for a nice walk outside. We can easily forget the most important thing, which is to smile!
3. Stand up straight
Good posture helps you avoid backaches and other maladies – it can also help you maintain an independent lifestyle. Research published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences shows that the shape of your spinal column can predict the need for help with basic activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing and moving between the bed and the chair. While it is normal for the spine to change with age, the study shows that good posture helps people maintain independent lives.
Walking is free, easy and good for your health. Taking a daily stroll is especially good for people with arthritis because the activity is easy on the joints. The health benefits of walking include improved circulation, reduced bone loss in people with osteoporosis, weight loss, strengthened muscles and improved sleep. The Arthritis Foundation discusses a study that showed people in their 50s and 60s who exercised are 35 percent less likely to die within the next eight years than are those that do not walk. Physically active people in that age group were 45 percent less likely to die within 8 years than were those with underlying health problems.
5. Tap into your inner artist
Research suggests that art can reduce anxiety and depression associated with chronic disease, according to the medical journal, Today’s Geriatric Medicine. Studies also show that creativity and imagination can thrive in older adults. It seems the creative process helps older adults realize their unique, untapped artistic potential; this is even true for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
6. Develop a positive perception of aging
Some people may create negative perceptions of aging while they are still young; and then try to force themselves to fit these negative stereotypes as they age. However, growing older doesn’t mean you have to stop enjoying life.
Having a positive perception of aging can greatly influence your health. In fact, one study found that seniors with more positive self-perceptions of aging lived 7.5 years longer than did those whose self-perceptions of aging were less positive.
7. Get a physical
Routine medical examinations and preventive screenings can save your life by detecting small problems before they become emergencies. Most health problems are easier to treat and have better outcomes with early diagnosis. Tests that improve healthy aging include blood pressure measurement and screenings for colorectal cancer and other types of cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes and thyroid function. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends bone density screenings for osteoporosis in women aged 65 years and older.
While you are at your doctor’s office, be sure to get your yearly flu shot! The flu can be worse for seniors because the immune system weakens with age. The flu can be particularly dangerous if you have heart disease, diabetes, or other chronic health conditions.
8. Take action against loneliness
Humans are built for social interaction. We thrive on our relationships with one another.
Social isolation and loneliness can interfere with healthy aging. According to Psychology Today, living alone raises levels of stress hormones, and negatively impacts the quality and efficiency of sleep. Loneliness makes your heart work harder, which can damage your veins.
You can help curb feelings of loneliness by:
- Making plans with an old friend
- Accepting an invitation to a gathering of friends or family members
- Volunteering at a local school or museum
- Joining a club
- Reaching out to another potentially lonely person
- Going to a concert or art show
- Striking up a conversation with that waitress, shopkeeper, or other acquaintance
- Making it a point to introduce yourself to new people
- Participate in activities at Gull Creek
Gull Creek makes healthy aging easy. Located in historic Berlin, Maryland, Gull Creek is close to a variety of activities to help you age healthfully, including shopping, superior care and cultural attractions, plus beautiful beaches and state parks. Gull Creek is also close to Assateague Island and its famous wild ponies.
Gull Creek helps you lead an active and vibrant lifestyle by providing independent living and assisted living services plus memory care in the Valeo™ Neighborhood where residents can enjoy all the benefits of healthy living in a safe and secure environment.