5 Steps to Healthy Aging

Today’s seniors have made it clear that they’re going to live long and enjoy life to the fullest. You know that cutting out cigarettes, eating right, and exercising are three significant contributors to healthy aging. Here, we’ll look at five additional steps to aging gracefully and staying healthy as you age. These steps don’t make headlines as frequently as the big three mentioned above, but they’re important tools to add to your repertoire.

1. Accept and Adapt to Change

Helpguide, a nonprofit organization in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, says that “the particular challenge for adults over 50 is the sheer number of changes and transitions that start to occur.” Kids move away, you might downsize and move to a new residence, retirement brings free time, and meeting these changes head-on can feel challenging. “Healthy aging means continually reinventing yourself as you pass through landmark ages such as 60, 70, 80, and beyond.” When you focus on the things you’re grateful for, you gain a new appreciation for the things you have. Instead of missing “what was,” become open to new experiences and find new activities to fill your time.

2. Be Conscientious

A peer-reviewed study conducted over 80 years and reported by The Atlantic revealed that conscientious people live longer. It cites three reasons (two of which you can control) why conscientiousness can lead to healthy aging: Conscientious people protect their health and engage in fewer risky activities; conscientious people have healthier relationships and engage in healthier situations; and there seems to be a genetic predisposition for conscientious people to be healthier.

3. Take Your Vitamins

Bones, joints, and muscles need plenty of calcium and vitamin D in order to age healthily, according to the Mayo Clinic. The clinic suggests dietary sources such as kale, broccoli, dairy, canned sardines, etc. to increase calcium levels. Vitamin D sources include fortified milk, oily fish, egg yolks, and natural sunlight. They also suggest checking with your doctor about supplementation.

4. Get Social

The Mayo Clinic also draws a correlation between a social life and a healthy memory: “Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss.” There are many opportunities for seniors to make new friends and stay connected with old friends. Almost everyone’s on the Internet, so keeping in touch with out-of-towners is easier than ever. Long-distance charges have disappeared with the advent of cell phones, so pick up the phone. Visit your community center to stay engaged in activities, find new interests, and meet new friends.

5. Maintain Good Oral Health

The jury’s still out; some studies suggest a correlation between excess mouth bacteria and cardiovascular disease, but others don’t. Harvard notes that oral bacteria can release toxins and says it’s “possible that inflammation in the mouth revs up inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.” That’s enough to make you brush thoroughly and dig the floss out from the back of the drawer!

It’s interesting that adapting to change, being conscientious, and remaining social are somewhat intertwined. It’s also interesting that these could be termed “personality and behavioral” tips rather than “health” tips, but if you’re looking for healthy aging tips to supplement the big three, these can contribute to your good health and add enjoyment to your life.

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