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Feel Good—At Any Age: Learn the Tips for Healthy, Active Aging

December 05, 2018

Getting older doesn’t mean you have to accept spending the rest of your days in a rocking chair. We’re all getting older, and while we may need to make some adjustments to enhance our lifestyles as we age, we can still be active and healthy.

The Difficulty Embracing Age

It’s not easy growing old in our society. Yet 20 percent of the population in the United States is 55 and older. That should make it easier to embrace getting older, but it doesn’t. Maybe it’s the “over the hill” birthday cards or commercials that falsely portray older adults as being forgetful and unable to adapt to technology. And that’s coupled with the reality that as we get older, the risk factors for a variety of disease increase.

When we think of aging, we often think of previous generations when healthcare and exercise were not at the forefront, and many older adults did feel and act, well, old. But today’s demographic of 50+ adults is very different.

David Harry Stewart, known as an “Age Disrupter,” has extensively researched the over-50 demographic and explains the difference in today’s generation: “This is the first group to have spent their entire lifetimes exercising, having a proper diet and a healthier lifestyle. At 55, they are really at the midpoint of their lives. They expect to live longer and expect to be functional longer. This changes the way they behave, the way they see themselves in the future, and the way they consume things.” Stewart adds that although the group sees itself differently, the media and the rest of American culture haven’t caught up.

Creating Your Own Fountain of Youth

It would be wonderful if a fountain of youth truly existed, but in its absence, there are many lifestyle changes you can incorporate to stay strong and feel good, regardless of your age.

  • Be active. Add physical activity to your daily routine. It could be a round of golf or tennis, or walking your dog to the park.
  • Eat a variety of nutritious foods, keeping in mind that portion control is essential to avoid overeating. A diet rich in the Omega-3s found in seafood is associated with healthier aging.
  • Keep your brain healthy by keeping it stimulated. Read the news (on paper or online), play brain games or take a class.Older woman doing yoga
  • Be social. Getting together with old friends or new acquaintances builds your social network and helps you stay healthier.
  • Take charge of your health. Older adults may be more susceptible to illness than others, so get your immunizations, such as flu, pneumonia and shingles, as recommended by your doctor. Be sure to take any medications as prescribed. Get cancer screenings as indicated and have your cardiac and osteoporosis factors assessed.
  • With aging, there may be changes in areas like vision, muscle mass, sex drive and cardiovascular health. Talk with your doctor about any changes that are concerning and find out what your options are in addressing them.
  • Some changes may not be reversible, but look for ways to maximize your ability and energy, for example, playing nine rounds of golf instead of 18 or playing pickleball instead of tennis.
  • Staying healthy also means reducing your risk of falls. Look for tripping and falling hazards in your home and have them repaired or removed.

Even as you plan to age successfully, it is still good to plan ahead in case you need additional assistance. Deciding on long-term and other medical care, advanced directives, housekeeping support, meal delivery, physical therapy and companionship services can give you peace of mind, and help you avoid making rushed decisions in the future.

With those plans made, you can concentrate on the present. While you may not be as fast or as strong as you once were, you can still persevere — and enhance your physical and mental health to make the most of your next 50 years.

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The mission of Orlando Health's Prevention and Wellness Program is to foster a culture within Orlando Health's facilities that promotes wellness - the pursuit of optimal physical and spiritual health - as an essential component of our nationally-recognized healthcare.

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