September is Healthy Aging Month, and we're celebrating the important milestone of being 50 years old and over! At this point in life, you've gained hard-earned wisdom and have much to offer. To continue a good quality of life, taking a proactive role in maintaining your health is more important than ever. It's time to make sure you're doing everything possible to stay vibrant, active, and going strong!
Stay Heart Smart
Your heart ages along with you. After 50 years old, your heart may grow larger, and your heart rate may slow down slightly. Blood vessels and arteries tend to harden a bit too. These changes can lead to high pressure since the heart is working harder than normal to pump blood through your body. Some people may also experience an increased heart rate or a skipping heartbeat. This condition is called atrial fibrillation and can increase your risk of stroke. To maintain heart health, incorporate the following actions into your daily routine:
- Aim for moderate exercise each day like walking, swimming, biking, or dancing.
- Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meats. Reduce sodium and saturated fats.
- Kick smoking to the curb! Remember to avoid second-hand smoke, which is also dangerous to your health.
- Develop healthy ways to cope with stress.
- Practice good sleep hygiene, and get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Muscles, Bones, and Joints – Oh My!
A big concern of aging is maintaining the ability to stay active and mobile. Muscles, bone, and joint issues can greatly reduce our quality of life as we age. Over time our muscles typically lose some strength, and we become less flexible. Our bones may actually shrink in size and become more fragile which can lead to osteoporosis. Joints may be plagued by arthritis or general stiffness. To stay active and mobile long after 50 years old, make sure you:
- Get enough calcium. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage. You can also get calcium from foods like almonds, broccoli, salmon, kale, and dairy products.
- Get enough vitamin D. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage. Eating tuna, sardines, eggs, and drinking milk are additional ways to get vitamin D.
- Daily activity that includes strength training helps keep muscles and bones strong.
- Avoid smoking and excessive drinking.
Winning at Wellbeing
Good news – studies show that happiness increases as we age! People 50 and older tend to be better at avoiding stress, coping with stress, and dealing with negativity. While happiness is on an upswing later in life, memory loss is often at the forefront of what many older people worry about as they age. Even though new brain cells form well into your 50's and 60's, a certain level of memory loss may still occur as you age. People who exercise regularly, stay social, continue to learn new things, eat a healthy diet, and avoid smoking, are shown to have reduced levels of memory loss.
Keep the Basics on Track
Your eyes, ears, teeth, and skin also need special care as you age. You may experience vision trouble such as light and glare sensitivity and/or decreased focus. Hearing high-frequency noises and distinguishing conversations in crowds can often be a challenge for older people as well. You may also experience dry mouth or receding gum lines. As skin thins from aging, you may bruise more easily, and skin may become drier. Regular check-ups with your doctor are the best way to keep your eyes, ears, teeth, and skin healthy!
Aging is a part of life. By following some basic healthy habits, you can enjoy the benefits of being older and still maintain a great quality of life.