How to Age Successfully

How to Age Successfully – August 2011

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Tips for Aging Successfully

black couple bikingThis newsletter is dedicated to how to age well to maintain the quality of life every person dreams of as they move into their later years.  It is important to realize that we are living longer than ever before.  The life expectancy for men is 75.7 years and for females, it is 80.6 years.  A prominent St. Louis geriatrician, Dr. John Morley, said that up until 60 years, it is all about how you lived your life and took care of yourself.  After age 60, your genetics become more influential.  Most people today can expect to spend some time in rehabilitation but will then return home.  The majority will not have to enter a facility and will remain in their homes.

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Stretch and do moderate exercise to avoid injury

There are many proactive steps that you can do to age well.  These are the important ones:

  1. Maintain a positive outlook on life
  2. Be proactive about preventing disease
  3. Prepare financially for living longer
  4. Expect to stay active or work past retirement
  5. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day  ‘Use it or lose it’ still applies.
  6. Control weight through good nutrition and portion control.  i.e. 2,300 calories for males and no more than 1,900 calories for women

There are a number of tips for improving your nutritional intake.  Monitor your Body Mass Index.  It should be 23 for men and 21 for women.  Increase healthy fat intake with omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats but eliminate trans fatty acids.  Avoid corn syrup-sweetened foods. Check your food labels.  Eat foods as close to natural form as possible and try to buy locally grown foods.  This insures that you are used to the bacteria in the area you live. Take antioxidant supplements in bio-available form. Reduce sodium intake. Take supplements designed for eye health and get screened regularly.  Increase calcium intake and eat a high fiber diet.  Limit eating out because you have no control over the ingredients used in food.

Avoid smoking because the end result is emphysema.  Stay away from acoustic trauma to hearing that results from concerts and using ear plugs.  Maintain oral health because teeth are the window to major diseases.   Brush, floss and get regular dental appointments.  Limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two for men.  Alcohol can interfere with medications so check with your doctor first.

Keep current on vaccinations.   For older adults, make sure to be current on Tetanus, flu, pneumonia, and shingles.  Many older adults who have had shingles develop damaged nerves that cause severe chronic pain.

Keep your brain active and adhere a philosophy of lifelong learning.  Sudoku, scrabble, reading, crossword puzzles and other word games help to keep your brain challenged.

The social aspect is extremely important.  If you are experiencing depression, see a doctor.  Depression can bring on dementia.  Reach out to others when help is needed.  Maintain social relationships and activities…volunteer to help others.  Aging well is about adapting to changing conditions.

Recognize the connection between body and mind.  If you keep hope for a better outcome, it will likely follow and you will do the activities to make it happen but if you give up, then your condition will only go downhill. Develop a spiritual base upon which you can rely when there are setbacks.

Last but not least, connect with your inner child and enjoy life!  Get a hobby or learn a new skill.  Have you observed someone who decides they are old and sits around in their recliner?  That is not living!  Living involves staying curious and interested in life…being open to new experiences and new relationships!  Live life abundantly and well!

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