Growing old has undeservedly been given a bad rep. Often, it is portrayed as a phase in life that is riddled with sickness and helplessness or a state of fragility and inactivity. When in fact, it can be anyone’s best years. You are wiser, more experienced, and likely, have more time to pursue a hobby (or several) you have been interested in or a lifelong personal dream.
“Aging is a natural process. It is inevitable, yet, each has a different aging experience. It manifests in different ways, from as normal as hair turning gray to something more complicated like developing a chronic illness,” says Janice Zamuco, MD a specialist from the Department of Geriatrics of top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). “We cannot reverse or stop aging, but we can improve our experiences during these later years in our life.”
She adds that aging gracefully and healthily is more possible if you subscribe to these simple habits every day:
Get moving. Older adults should limit their physical activities, they say. But Dr. Zamuco encourages at least 30 minutes of daily activities like walking, aerobic exercise, or even tai chi. “People often think that an older person will have a higher risk of accidents, if they move more. This is not usually the case. Exercise can in fact improve one’s balance and coordination and prevent falls,” she explains.
Eat more fruits and veggies. No matter how old one is, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods into every meal has numerous health benefits. “Having a plant-rich diet can give you the antioxidants that can fight inflammation and free radicals that can damage the organs and speed up the body’s natural aging processes. Plant-based eating can also give you the nutrients you need to improve your immunity,” the doctor states.
Get quality sleep. It is believed that getting older also means getting less sleep. Yet, Dr. Zamuco says that a good night’s sleep is a must to keep older adults healthier and well. “Many older adults only clock in a few hours of sleep every night, dismissing this as just a part of growing older. It is recommended that people 61–64 years old need 7–9 hours, and people aged 65 and up should have 7–8 hours of sleep each night,” she points out.
Practice mental exercises. One of the usual problems associated with aging is dementia. The doctor says it is common but not necessarily something that all seniors will go through. There are many ways to maintain one’s mental sharpness, “If you are at risk of developing memory loss and cognitive issues into older adulthood, take the necessary steps to fortify your mind as early as possible.” Reading books, working on puzzles, playing board games, and learning something new can all help keep the brain active and dementia at bay, she adds.
It’s also important that your blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol are in check. These also increase your risks of dementia if uncontrolled.
While years do add up, the latter part of your life can still be filled with vitality and excitement.
“One of the ‘secrets’ to healthy aging is simply taking a proactive approach to your health,” Dr. Zamuco underscores. “Growing old doesn’t have to be a dreadful part of human life. With better lifestyle choices, you can live every moment of your life with your loved ones to the fullest.”
For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email email@example.com, or visit www.makatimed.net.ph. Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.