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A Guide to Aging Well

We all want to live a long, healthy life. As we age, our bodies and minds need additional care. Living a healthy lifestyle can help you deal with these changes, as well as prevent some health problems and help you make the most of your life.

Making improvements and developing good health habits is possible at every age. Ogechi Anyaoku, MD, an internal medicine physician with Adventist HealthCare Adventist Medical Group in Fort Washington, Md., provides tips on healthy aging and what older adults should be including in their daily lives.

Stay Active

As you grow older, staying active becomes more important than ever to your overall health. It offers multiple physical and mental benefits including improving brain function, boosting self-confidence, reducing the impact of chronic disease, enhancing your strength and maintaining or losing weight.

Starting a new exercise routine can seem challenging, but it’s never too late to start on a path toward an active lifestyle. Activities that can be beneficial to older adults include:

Walking. It sounds simple, but it’s a great place to start your exercise journey.
Swimming and water aerobics. This exercise is great for people with sore joints.
Tai chi. Improve your balance and strength with this exercise.
Senior group fitness classes. Not only will this give you a great workout, but it’s also a place to meet new faces.

Dr. Anyaoku suggests getting approval from your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you’re being treated for a preexisting condition. Start small and slowly increase the frequency of your workouts.

Eat a Healthy Diet

As you age, the diet your body requires will change. For example, you probably won’t need to eat as many calories as you once would because of a slowing metabolism. You will need additional vitamins and nutrients such as calcium and Vitamin D, which promote good bone health, preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures.

“I always tell my patients to eat the rainbow. When eating a meal, make sure you’re incorporating a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Anyaoku. A healthy meal should include:

Vegetables: leafy greens, carrots, squash or broccoli
Fruits: apples, strawberries, blueberries or kiwi
Protein: lean meats, seafood, eggs or beans
Whole grains: oats, brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat bread

Make sure you’re receiving the recommended amount of fiber in your diet. Not only will this promote a healthy digestive system, but it can also lower your risk for diabetes, stroke, heart disease and aid in weight loss. Other important vitamins and minerals as you get older include vitamins B and C, as well as drinking enough water.

Find Fulfillment

After retirement, there’s plenty of time to pursue your lifelong interests and spend time in ways that bring more meaning than ever before. However, after the initial excitement of retirement wears off, many people may not know what path to take next.

“For so much of our lives, our sense of self is connected to our professions and raising our families,” says Dr. Anyaoku. “Try to find your sense of purpose in other aspects of your life, aside from your work.”

Here are a few suggestions for finding fulfillment in post-retirement life:

Study and learn something new
Mentor or teach youth and share your knowledge
Volunteer with local groups and charities
Notice the good things in life every day

Adhere to Medications

Taking your medication as prescribed is important for your overall health, as it helps to treat temporary conditions and maintain chronic conditions. This means taking the right dose of medication, at the right time and frequency.

Dr. Anyaoku’s tips to help you stay on track with your medication routine include:

  • Take your medication at the same time every day
  • Use a pill container and refill it at the same time every week
  • If traveling, be sure to bring extra medication in case of travel delays
  • Another important aspect of your medication routine is knowing what you should and should not be on. Having a connection with and seeing your doctor regularly can help ensure that the medications you are taking are still appropriate.

Value Key Relationships

At any age, socialization is important for people’s well-being, offering numerous mental and physical benefits. However, older people are often more susceptible to social isolation compared to their younger counterparts.

Try to make it a habit to regularly reach out to your friends and family. Whether it’s connecting via video calls or going for a walk outside, keeping in touch can help alleviate any isolation you may be feeling.

If you don’t have anyone close to you to connect with, Dr. Anyaoku suggests reaching out to your local senior community to see what group activities they offer. Book clubs, game nights, group exercises or movie outings are a great way to meet new people, along with giving you something to look forward to each week.

Think about aging in a new way. Focusing on living a healthier life now so you can enjoy your favorite moments longer. Practicing these tips can help you age with confidence and help you stay independent longer.

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