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I was listening to the radio this morning and in honor of Healthy Aging Month, the host asked folks to share some of the first indicators that they were aging. The answers included things like needing reading glasses, watching grandchildren graduate from high school, and things that make us say, “Where has the time gone?”
Healthy Aging Month reminds us to celebrate whatever age we are, focus less on the negative aspects of aging, and invest in our overall health and general well-being.
Physical health: Prioritize routine physicals, eye exams, and dental check ups. Use those appointments to voice any concerns or questions you may have about your health. Communication is vital when working with medical professionals. Don’t just address your symptoms. Be proactive. Brushing and flossing your teeth every day is one of the most basic ways to keep gums healthy and prevent tooth decay and loss. Aging doesn’t necessarily equal tooth loss and dentures.Consider adjusting your diet to include more healthful vegetables and fruits, and fewer processed foods. Drink more water. Practice gentle stretching and deep breathing every day to maintain and improve flexibility. If you have lost strength and feel confined to your home, physical therapy is a great way to strengthen your aging muscles and gain confidence to become more independent. It’s never too late to develop healthy habits.
Mental & Social Health: If you struggle with feelings of depression or sadness, seek help. Your doctor can refer you to a psychiatrist, and there are also many organizationsthat offer assistance for mental illness. The Association for Psychological Science recently found that mentally stimulating activities are vital for healthy cognitive function as we age. Activities that are both unfamiliar and mentally challenging are the most effective. Basically, you must get out of your comfort zone and learn new skills to benefit an aging mind. A dance class at your local gym can serve multiple purposes: learning the steps provides mental stimulation, and the physical exertion may strengthen muscles and improved mobility. Then there is the social opportunity to make new friends or invite old friends to join you. Perhaps you prefer friendly competition. San Mateo is home to a bowling league, Sunshine Seniors. This league welcomes adults ages 60 through their 90s. There are many more options, too. Self-care is not selfish, rather it’s important and necessary. Do you love a certain type of music? What helps you relax? When was the last time you planned a trip or an adventure that was exactly what you wanted? How does that look practically? Maybe you set aside a monthly allowance to fund that mediterranean vacation you’ve been dreaming of, or it could be as simple as joining a cooking class.
Don’t submit to the notion that aging means slowing down. Instead explore new ways to keep doing the things you love. Healthy aging is a lifestyle of choices that cultivate your best self. Robert Browning says it best, “Grow old with me. The best is yet to be.”
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.