Aging Gracefully: AARP’s Tips for Healthy Living in Later Years

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Aging is a fact of life, but growing old doesn’t have to mean slowing down. Leading a healthy lifestyle and staying active during your retirement years can help maximize the chances of remaining healthy and enjoying a fulfilling retirement. Consider these tips for healthy aging.

Build a Support Network

Social isolation continues to be a serious issue for older adults, especially those whose main social network was people they knew through their day jobs. Loneliness doesn’t just have a short-term impact on a person’s quality of life; it can have a lasting effect on both your physical and mental health.

If you’ve retired and spend a lot of time at home, look for ways to get out and meet new people. Join a book club or a senior sports team, volunteer at the local community center, or enroll in a course. Having something on your calendar to look forward to and people to talk to will go a long way toward improving your quality of life in retirement.

Stay Active

Physical exercise is important for older adults. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults aged 65 or over get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise and strength training at least two days a week. It’s also useful to practice balance skills to help prevent falls.

You don’t have to go to the gym to get your exercise. Walking, cycling, playing tennis or even kicking a ball around with the grandchildren are all good activities. Swimming is a useful way to get cardiovascular activity if you’ve got joint issues that make it hard to engage in load-bearing activity. Just find something that’s fun, and get moving!

Watch Your Diet

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Nutrition is always important, but it’s even more important as we get older. Getting enough protein and healthy fats in your diet can help preserve your muscle mass and improve your heart health. It shouldn’t be a suprise, that a diet full of fruit, vegetables and whole grains ensures you get lots of vitamins, minerals and the fiber you need for a healthy digestive system.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. If you’re struggling to find foods you like, why not use some of that free time you have in retirement to take a cooking course and learn some new skills you’ll get to use every day.

Don’t Be Afraid of The Doctor

Regular medical check-ups are important. Some people are nervous about going to the doctor because they don’t want to hear bad news or be told off for less-than-healthy habits. However, going to the doctor regularly for check-ups can increase the likelihood of catching certain curable conditions before they become serious. Breast and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men are all things that can be treated if caught early. Type 2 Diabetes can be managed too, preventing it from progressing to the point it has an adverse impact on your life.

Always remember your doctor is on your side, and it’s worth working with them to stay healthy.

Never Stop Learning

Don’t believe that saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The human brain is ‘plastic,’ meaning it can change and form new connections, even in old age. If you exercise your brain as well as your body, you’ll be helping it stay healthy and sharp. 

Use your free time to learn a new hobby, whether that’s playing a musical instrument, learning a language, making things, or studying a subject you’ve always been curious about. 

Stick to a Bed Time

Bedtime isn’t just for children. Older adults need to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night too. If you’re struggling with insomnia, try to fix it. Avoid daytime naps, as these just make it harder to get to sleep later at night. Pick a time that you’ll go to bed, and stick to it.

No matter how old you are, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoons/early evnings, and setting a routine for going to bed, perhaps reading a book or doing some other relaxing activity can help your unwind. This should help you fall asleep more easily at night and get more rejuvenated sleep! 

Sleep deprivation is known to lead to significant cognitive impairment, but once you’re regularly getting enough sleep, your mental clarity levels should return to normal, leaving you feeling more alert and happier.

Accept Your Limitations

Aging doesn’t have to mean slowing down a lot and giving up your favorite activities. However, sometimes poor health, injury or challenges in your life may mean there are certain things you can’t do as you get older.

Try to accept those limitations and find joy in other areas of your life. Keep trying new things and pushing your limits in safe and healthy ways. There’s always a new challenge to take on, new people to meet, and fun things to do, and if you can find meaning and joy in those challenges, you’ll be well-positioned to enjoy a rich and fulfilling retirement.

You might also be interested in: 5 Volunteer Opportunities With AARP

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