No matter what age you are, it’s important to make your health a priority. But as you reach your 70s and above, some of the things you need to focus on for optimal physical, mental and emotional health become even more essential.
“Being healthy as you get older is about more than just avoiding disease,” said Savitri Ramdial, MD, primary care and geriatric physician at Archbold’s Medical Group of Mitchell County. “Things like hearing loss and social isolation can have a big effect on your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to make an effort to take care of yourself both physically and mentally and make necessary changes.”
Follow these tips to live your healthiest life long into your golden years.
One of the most important things you can do for your body as you get older is to get plenty of physical activity. Research shows that exercising regularly can not only help you live longer but also have a better quality of life, with less pain or other physical problems. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, build muscle mass and increase energy levels.
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. Not a fan of working out? You don’t have to hit the gym to get in your exercise. Activities, such as gardening, playing with the grandkids and walking the dog, are great ways to sneak in regular physical activity.
Making healthy food choices is another significant part of taking good care of yourself. Not only can eating well help you stay at a healthy weight and prevent diseases like diabetes, it can also support brain function. Even slowly making healthier choices can have a big impact on your overall health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests following an eating plan that is filled with fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean protein sources and healthy fats.
One option is a Mediterranean-style diet, which follows these guidelines while emphasizing fish and poultry over red meat and includes low amounts of dairy products. A recent study found that people who follow this diet have a much lower risk of sudden cardiac death.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially as you age. For many older adults, things like hearing loss, mobility problems and memory loss can make it harder to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. This can lead to isolation and loneliness, which are linked to an increased risk for heart disease, depression and cognitive decline.
To stay socially connected, schedule time each day to see friends or family members or to talk to them on the phone. Making new connections is also good for your health; consider taking a class or joining a local book club to meet new friends.
Boost Your Brain
Just like other parts of your body, your brain needs to stay active to stay healthy. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help keep your cognitive abilities sharp and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Reading, playing board games, completing word puzzles, writing letters and participating in other activities that incorporate brain exercises can make a big impact on your cognitive health.
Studies have shown that other lifestyle factors make a difference for your brain as well. These include avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, exercising and eating healthy foods. A recent study found that people who follow these healthy habits have up to a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Questions about making healthy lifestyle changes? Find a provider at archbold.org/providers.