What’s the Prescription for Healthy Aging?
There’s an art and a science to healthy aging. In the Age Well Study by Mather LifeWays Institute, residents of Life Plan Communities (also known as CCRCs or Continuing Care Retirement Communities) reported more healthy behaviors — and not just physical exercise — than their peers in the wider community. The study demonstrated that there are a number of areas that contribute to a healthy lifestyle: physical, emotional, intellectual, vocational, social and spiritual, and that older adults thrive by becoming stronger in each of these areas.
To help you find the right balance in these areas of well-being, we’ve compiled 10 tips for healthy aging. We present them to you in the form of “supplements.” Take one or more a day, as often as needed, for maximum effect!
Vitamin N: Nutrition
It’s widely accepted that proper nutrition is part of how to be healthy in old age … and indeed at any age. Older adults may find their dietary needs change and they need fewer calories, and it becomes more important than ever to pack each calorie with as much goodness as possible.
Commit to nutrient-dense food such as whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, non-starchy vegetables, some fruits, nuts and seeds. Reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline by avoiding fatty meats, sugar, salt and packaged foods. A good healthy aging tip is to “eat your colors” – brightly colored fruit and veggies are more likely to have higher levels of antioxidants and nutrients.
Vitamin W: Water
Don’t forget to drink water — the old adage of 8 glasses a day is no longer true. Instead, a new healthy lifestyle tip is to take your weight and divide that number in half. For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds should drink 100 ounces of water a day to stay well hydrated. Avoid drinking your calories through soft drinks, coffee confections and sugary smoothies.
Vitamin M: Movement
Keeping physically active helps control your weight, boosts your mood, and keeps bones and muscles strong. Take the stairs. Go for a daily walk. Get up and move. If you’re not currently active, start slowly and work up to a goal. Look online to map out a walking trail or download a “Couch to 5K” running program. Experiment with yoga, try an indoor cycling class, sign up for Tai Chi, Pilates or body weight exercise. Check with your doctor to see what’s right for you. As you increase your strength and stamina, a healthy aging tip is to work on improving your balance to reduce the risk of falls.
Vitamin O: Outdoor Time
Get outside. Weather permitting, spending time in nature is a great stress reliever. Soak in the sights and sounds of nature, as you soak up the sunshine.
Vitamin S: Socialization
You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. Loneliness is the perception of being alone and isolated, and it’s harmful to your physical, emotional and mental health. Social connections — meaningful, stimulating interactions — keep us thriving. According to the Global Council on Brain Health, social engagement gives your brain a workout. It uses your thinking, attention and language skills, memory and personality, and knowledge of current events, and of course it’s fun and enjoyable too.
Look for ways to increase face-to-face time with friends and family, setting a regular time to connect, even if it’s on screen through use of technology. Involve yourself in a group activity that fits your interests and get to know people in your community. At Broadview, we’ll offer an independent lifestyle with a robust social calendar that includes events, activities, outings, clubs, classes and committees — making it easy to discover new friends and build a sense of belonging.
Vitamin L: Lifelong Learning
There’s a myth that older brains struggle to learn new things. This simply isn’t true, and how to be healthy in old age is to refuse to set limits on intellectual enrichment. Go beyond reading, crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and seek out learning activities that challenge the way you think and require regular practice. You’ll help your brain generate new neurons, and increase your cognitive functioning, health and overall well-being. You’ll also achieve better brain health if you combine mental and physical learning together; dance, yoga, painting or pottery, for example.
Whether your interest lies in fine arts, culture, language or elsewhere, you’ll find unprecedented opportunities for lifelong learning at Broadview. Broadview’s unique location on the Purchase College campus puts you in the center of a vibrant academic milieu, with easy access to classes, concerts, studio spaces, fine arts workshops, intergenerational friendships and stimulating mentorships.
Vitamin H: Health & Home
A key to healthy aging for seniors is to be proactive about health by scheduling regular checkups and screenings. Know which medicines you’re taking and why, learning when and how to take them for best effect. Aging can bring on decreased sense of taste, dry mouth or gum disease, so it’s important to maintain good dental hygiene and see your dentist regularly.
Think about how you can make your home safer as you age. Create a more open environment by removing clutter. Install handrails or grab bars if possible. Get rid of anything that might trip you or increase the risk of a fall, such as throw rugs, large furniture or trailing wires.
Vitamin Z: Zzzz
Falling and staying asleep gets harder as we get older. Stick to a routine with a regular bedtime and wake-up time, and you’ll find it does wonders for your mood, attention span and memory. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven to eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep for older adults. If you like a nap during the day, limit it to 10 to 20 minutes, and don’t do it near bedtime.
Vitamin G: Give Back
Cultivating a sense of purpose gives us a reason to get up in the morning and get moving. Whether you’re still employed or seeking new responsibilities, take some time to think about how you can use your experience and skills to be more useful to others. If you haven’t already, consider how you might help others in need, through volunteerism, serving on a committee, or becoming a mentor. We guarantee you’ll get back more than you give.
Vitamin P: Positivity
Life tests us in many ways. Positive thinking can be your powerful secret weapon. When you choose to be optimistic and cheerful, your brain releases endorphins, giving you more energy. It’s not easy to keep a sunny outlook, so here are some tricks to help:
- Smile. Even when you don’t feel like it.
- Reframe. Look for the good things in a situation.
- Keep a journal of things you’re grateful for. Write at least one thing in it every day.
- Do good things for others without needing praise.
- Surround yourself with kind, positive people who lift your spirits.
- Accept there are some things you can’t change and move on.
Discover how Broadview takes the guesswork out of healthy aging. Call 917-417-4201 to learn how Broadview’s setting on the 500-acre Purchase College campus will bring together all the elements for your overall wellness, including physical, social and intellectual health.