As noted in an earlier post, data compiled by AARP indicates the vast majority of seniors would prefer to continue living in their own homes as they age. While there are many factors to be considered, it is clearly easier to achieve this goal if we are in reasonably good health.
In a recent U.S. News article, healthcare author Heidi Godman shared a few “secrets” for aging well, which included:
- Follow the basics. “Time and again studies show true benefits of not smoking, keeping weight down and keeping major health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes well controlled.”
- Start exercising. “Exercise reduces stress levels in our bodies. It circulates oxygen to all tissues, which is good for the brain. It builds up strength, so you’re at less risk for falling and frailty. And strong muscles make our bones hurt less.” How much exercise do you need? This will vary depending upon many variables and your doctor’s recommendations. But generally-speaking, if you get out and walk regularly for three minutes when you hadn’t been walking at all, that’s a real accomplishment.
- Socialize more. It helps fight loneliness, depression and isolation. “The number of social interactions in a day or week improves life expectancy, even in people with heart disease and colon cancer.”
- Challenge your brain. We can try a new a hobby, learn another language or take a class at a local college (many universities, including Harvard and Yale, allow you to take free classes online, although you won’t receive credit. “Staying mentally active in some way staves off dementia.”
- Get hearing loss checked. “Hearing impairment can lead to a decline in socialization and mental stimulation, which can have an impact on activity, which can lead to depression and isolation, which can lead to functional decline and can reduce longevity.”