The legend of the Fountain of Youth—a mythical spring that restores the youth of anyone who sips from it—has been part of the human experience for thousands of years. Early mentions of it appear in the writings of Herodotus in the 5th century B.C., although it wasn’t until the 16th century that the legend was popularized by explorer Ponce de Leon, who set out in search of the Fountain in what is now known as Florida.
Whether or not this magical spring actually exists, there are plenty of ways that seniors can slow their aging process. Healthy aging for seniors really entails adopting a 360 approach to wellness that affects every facet of your life. Check out our 10 tips for healthy aging that are scientifically proven to add to longevity and your quality of life.
Exercise is good for a lot of things--weight loss, stress management, better sleep--but it is also one of the best healthy living tips for seniors. Harvard Health explored the topic of exercise and aging by taking a closer look at a 30-year research study performed in Dallas. The result? “The toll of time was not as severe as the toll of inactivity,” and even as men in their 50’s their bodies benefited greatly from endurance training to help build cardiovascular function, keep blood pressure down and “protect the body’s metabolism from the effects of age.”
Cigarettes have been proven to be extremely harmful to your health in a variety of ways. Aside from also being linked to different cancers, smoking cigarettes is also responsible for aging you prematurely. If you’re still a smoker and feel as though it’s impossible to quit, there are steps you can take to living a smoke-free life.
At every stage in life, getting an adequate amount of sleep is essential for optimum levels of human functionality. When you are over the age of 65, sleep is especially important when it comes to aging well. Older adults might develop sleeping troubles, but they still require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to function at your best. A lack of sleep can cause memory problems, increased risk of falls, and depression. If you need some assistance falling asleep, drink some chamomile tea, avoid screen time in the bedroom and introduce white noise to help you drift off.
Manage Your Stress
Constant stress can take a serious toll on the body. Research has shown that stress can speed up the aging process by actually shortening the length of individual strands of DNA called telomeres. Studies have found that “shortened telomeres have been associated with chronic diseases and premature death.” Learning how to manage stress in a positive way, like yoga or meditation, can quite literally add years to your life.
Spend Time With Friends
Studies have shown that isolation is one of the great detriments to senior health and wellness over time. Older adults who spend the majority of their time alone at home, without much human interaction run the risk of increased rates of depression as well as premature aging. By getting involved with the community and participating in meaningful activities, seniors can take years off the clock by feeling happier and healthier.
Play Brain Games
One of the most overlooked healthy living tips for seniors is keeping your mind sharp. While much emphasis is placed on exercising your body, exercising your brain is just as important. Cognitive decline is a normal part of aging to a certain extent, however, by regularly doing sodoku puzzles or crosswords, learning a new language, taking dance lessons, or joining a lecture series at a community college, you can provide enough stimulation to slow it down.
Change Your Diet
National Institutes of Health has found that healthy aging for seniors includes a healthy diet, complete with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. In addition to adding more nutrient-dense foods to your daily menu, the NIH also recommends cutting down on sugary drinks and desserts, white bread and other refined grain products, and products that are packed with preservatives. Drink plenty of water and be sure to take in at least three servings “of vitamin D-fortified low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese every day to help keep your bones strong as you age.”
Practice Good Health Habits
Preventable diseases, such as pneumonia or the flu, can be kept at bay with the right health habits. Staying up to date on all your vaccinations and immunizations could literally save your life. Also, one of the most surprising healthy living tips for seniors is simple: hand washing. Washing your hands regularly can help keep germs away and keep you feeling healthier, longer.
Manage Chronic Illnesses
If you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, following doctor’s orders is essential when it comes to healthy aging for seniors. Many medications that are prescribed for chronic health issues need to be taken in order to prolong your life expectancy, but some seniors struggle with managing their prescriptions. It’s been estimated that 90 percent of older adults regularly take at least one prescription medication daily, and 36 percent take at least five. A research study published in JAMA about ER visits for adverse drug effects in 2013 and 2014 found that the most common drugs implicated were anticoagulants, antibiotics, diabetes agents and opioid analgesics. Medication errors can have grave consequences which is why it’s included as one of the top tips for healthy aging.
Invest In a Safety Net
It’s impossible to completely prevent accidents and medical emergencies from happening, but being prepared for them when they do can actually help prolong your life. Over 7 million falls result in annual trips to the emergency room, but 90 percent of older adults who receive medical attention within one hour of falling are more likely to return home after a hospital visit. Medical Guardian carries a wide range of medical alert devices that can serve as your safety net in case of emergency. Healthy aging for seniors can start with just the push of a button!