Aging brings about a number of life changes. You may be looking into retirement, welcoming new grandchildren into the world, or moving to a senior community. There are a number of challenges that can occur as you age, too, like health issues or a decline in mobility.
Both the positive and negative transitions that come with aging can be overwhelming, especially if you’re the type to resist change. It can be stressful to feel like you’re losing the things that bring you joy. It is possible to maintain your health and quality of life at any age, though.
Finding healthy ways to cope and even embrace aging is the key to enjoying your older years. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can use to stay happy throughout the aging process.
Here Are Five Senior Health Tips for Healthy Aging
1. Accept and Acknowledge Change
Accepting the aging process is easier said than done, especially when aspects of your life are changing that had remained constant for many years. It’s normal to feel stressed and upset about some of the transitions that occur in older adulthood. Remember that aging happens to everyone, though, and that worrying cannot stop it.
Change is a natural part of life, and people of all ages go through both exciting and unwelcome transitions. When you’re facing an unwanted or difficult change, allow yourself to feel upset. Find healthy ways to express your worry or frustration, and allow yourself time to grieve. For example, you could write in a journal, vent to a friend, or express yourself through art or music.
After processing your feelings about aging, try to re-frame the situation in a positive way to make the transition more manageable. For example, if you’re moving to a senior living community, think of it as an opportunity to find a strong social network. If you’re retiring, you now have a chance to spend more time with family or friends.
2. Connect with Others
One of the most common and difficult struggles for older adults is loneliness. You may lose some of your social circle as you age. When you retire, you won’t see your coworkers every day, and some of your friends may pass away or move to another community. Losing your social network can be incredibly challenging as interacting with others is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy.
You don’t have to become isolated or lonely as you age, though. By making a strong effort to maintain connections with friends, family, and neighbors, you can keep a great group of people in your circle. Staying connected requires active effort, so be prepared to put in the work. Regularly reach out to friends to catch up, and schedule recurring meetups or phone calls.
You can look for opportunities to meet new people, too. You’re never too old for new friendships, and the people you meet after retirement can go on to be some of your closest companions. Check out your local senior center to find events, clubs, and classes that may interest you. Volunteer organizations are another great place to expand your social circle.
3. Stay Physically Healthy
A decline in physical health is not a guarantee with aging. Sometimes, health conditions are unavoidable. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can go a long way in alleviating some of the common complaints older adults have.
One of the key factors in maintaining your well-being is healthy eating. Try to make balanced meals with a mix of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. Limit your alcohol and sugar intake, but indulge occasionally in your favorite snacks or desserts. Healthy eating is all about moderation. You don’t have to eat healthy meals at all times, but junk food should be a treat rather than the norm.
Exercise is the other major component of healthy aging. Regular physical activity can lengthen your lifespan and improve your quality of life. It leads to less pain, better sleep, a clearer mind, and an improved mood. Walking, especially out in nature, is a great form of exercise for seniors. Swimming, cycling, and yoga are also excellent, low-impact ways to increase your heart rate and build muscle.
Doctors generally recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week, but this may vary depending on your current health status and any existing medical conditions you have. Speak with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine to make sure it’s safe. If you’re new to working out, start small and work your way up to avoid injury or fatigue.
Getting enough sleep can do wonders for your health, too. Sleep problems are particularly common in older adults, and lack of sleep is linked to increased stress, immune system problems, irritability, and cognitive issues. Keep in mind that your sleep schedule may change during the aging process, so you may find yourself going to bed and waking up earlier. Try to follow your body’s natural rhythm to get quality sleep.
4. Prioritize Cognitive Health
Your cognitive health is just as important as your physical health. While cognitive decline may not always be something you can control, it is possible to take steps to prevent or reduce it.
Social interaction is one of the best ways to maintain your cognitive health. Games and puzzles can be very helpful, too. Many seniors enjoy crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, card games, and video games.
Another great way to keep your mind sharp and promote healthy aging is to switch up your routine. For example, you could take a different route than usual when running errands or brush your teeth with the opposite hand. These small changes force your brain to work hard instead of being complacent.
5. Don’t Deny Your Age
Accepting your age is part of coping with aging. Being in denial about the aging process will only lead to distress and frustration. You can still feel youthful no matter how old you are, but don’t try to force it by dressing in clothes meant for teenagers or surrounding yourself with far younger friends.
Follow a lifestyle that feels natural and comfortable, and don’t make decisions based on what you think will make you appear young. There’s a difference between choices that feel genuinely healthy and rewarding and choices that enable you to deny that you’re aging. It’s better to focus on staying happy and healthy as you age than to try not to age at all.
Time passes no matter what we do, so make the most of your senior years by staying healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Aging isn’t always easy, but learning to cope with aging will help you find fulfillment in your retirement. Regardless of what life changes come your way, you can embrace healthy aging to stay happy and well.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy for older adults to address a wide variety of goals, including coping with aging. If you or a senior loved one is interested in counseling, contact us today to learn more about our services.