Whether you’re 65 or 25, the hard fact is this: you’re getting older. How much you’ll be able to enjoy yourself in the next 5, 10, 15, or 40 years depends on how you treat your body and mind today. Young people should begin to think about ageing (it’s never too early), and those entering their golden years should take steps to keep themselves healthy and mentally stimulated ASAP. Here’s a quick guide to growing older gracefully.
Eat right and exercise
When it comes to ageing healthily, the buck stops with proper diet and exercise. Without it, nothing else matters. Eat the rainbow (fruits and veggies of all colors). Limit your red meat, sugar, and processed carb consumption. Get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate exercise. Maintain a healthy weight. It may be easier said than done, but it’s certainly not complicated. One way to avoid gaining weight (and improve your immunity) is to properly care for the bacteria in your gut microbiome. You can improve your gut health by eating foods such as wild salmon, garlic, yogurt, tempeh, and pickles. The better you treat your body, the better it will treat you as you get older.
Protect those joints
While daily exercise is one of the most important things you can do to keep your body healthy as you age, the hard truth is that exercise can be hard on your joints. You don’t want to do everything else right and then be unable to be as physical as you want to be when you get older. Begin taking steps to protect your joints now. Stop smoking, and lose those extra pounds. Take up yoga or swimming, both of which are easy on the joints. Be smart about how you use your body. Don’t overwork problem motions. Adapt to what feels most comfortable in your daily life.
Prioritize skin care
Our skin is our biggest organ, and it’s very hard to repair once it is damaged. The earlier you begin to truly care for your skin, the better it will look and feel as you age. It will also lower your risk of skin cancer, a major health risk for most as we tack on the years. Dermatologists recommend wearing broad-spectrum, moisturizing sunscreen whenever you go outside (even on cloudy days). It also helps to get into a routine of treating your skin with moisturizer. Don’t over-tan, don’t smoke, and try to control your stress levels.
As a younger person, staying socially active is one way to keep yourself sharp and engaged. Havings friends and acquaintances that you see and/or do things with on a daily or at least weekly basis helps promote mental health. Build yourself a social circle, and remain a participant in it for life.
As you age, this concept gets even more important. Seniors that are socially isolated experience higher levels of depression and faster cognitive decline. Some ways to stay connected as you age include living closer to friends and family, group exercise, staying involved in church/community organizations, volunteering, video chat, and maintaining reliable transportation.
Keep your brain active and learning new things
While so-called “brain games” may not have the positive effect on memory and cognition that they advertise, there is no doubt that keeping your brain stimulated throughout your life is how you stave off cognitive decline and keep yourself happy and mentally healthy.
“Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them,” notes Harvard Health. So, stay up to date on new technology. Read books. Do puzzles, crosswords, and Sudoku. Learn new languages. Write music. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you stimulate your mind every single day.
Get to know your spiritual side
A healthy body and mind will never be enough. If you want to truly excel in your senior years, you must get your spiritual self in tune as well. By also focusing on what makes you feel whole from a spiritual standpoint, you give yourself purpose. And purpose is what keeps people of all ages moving forward.
Even if you haven’t been to church in years, it is never too late to reconnect with your higher power; you might just find a new “family” on your journey. You might also choose to worship in private by reading the Bible or saying a prayer each night. The point is not to neglect your religious needs.
Getting older is a human inevitability. It’s never too early or too late to prioritize proper self-care in order to age more gracefully. The earlier you begin eating right, exercising, stimulating your mind, and building long-lasting social relationships with people and God, the better off you’ll be now and in the years to come.
By Guest Writer Karen Weeks
Karen created Elder Wellness as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well.