While we can’t stop the clock and prevent ourselves from aging, there’s a lot we can do to improve our chances of leading a longer, healthier life. The good news is, there’s new research shows that the lifestyle choices we make — even well into our 70s and older — remain important for healthy aging, and to how our bodies and minds hold up in the later decades of our life.
Here are some recent studies related to senior health to help you develop and maintain good habits that will have a lasting impact on your and your loved ones’ health. It’s never too late to make positive changes!
7 Tips for Healthy Aging
1. Talk to your doctor about daily aspirin: Years ago, many physicians recommended to their older patients a low-dose daily aspirin to prevent cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and even dementia in the elderly. A new study has people talking about that recommendation. The research showed aspirin not to have a significant impact on health and lifespan of older, otherwise healthy people. Check with your physician to see whether a daily dose is right for you.
2. Eat a Mediterranean diet: It’s well-known that to stay healthy, we need to eat healthy. And eating a Mediterranean-style diet, which includes leafy and other vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, and olive oil, has long been touted as a way to add nutrition to your life. But a new study suggests that seniors who closely follow a Mediterranean diet live the longest. The dietitians and chefs on our eldercare campus work hand-in-hand to ensure we provide these healthful options to our residents; if you’re cooking for you or a senior in your life, here are the specifics on the diet followed in the study.
3. Get moving! The seniors in our Walking Club at Willow Towers Assisted Living attest to the mood and health benefits they gain from regular jaunts on our campus. They (and their doctors) say they feel better, and happier too. Exercise provides a broad array of benefits for people of all ages; now, it’s reported, walking reduces the risk of heart failure in older adults, particularly women. Lace up those sneakers!
4. Stay social: The idea that loneliness is bad for your health isn’t new, but only recently has medicine studied the links between relationships and health. New research shows that social isolation can actually increase our risk of premature death. The upshot? Greater social connection is linked to a 50 percent reduced risk of early death. So, find ways maintain your friendships, or make new ones. At United Hebrew, we have an array of activities to suit a variety of interests. Many communities offer programs for seniors. Join a club, visit a senior center, and be open to new experiences.
5. Practice Tai Chi: Falls are not only dangerous for seniors, they can lead to complications and a steady decline in health. A form of tai chi is more effective in preventing falls in older adults than stretching or an exercise program with aerobics, weights, and balance activities, according to a new study. The program, called Tau Ji Quan, (among the fitness options offered at our assisted living facility) reduced the number of falls by 58% as compared with stretching exercises. Another reason to get moving!
6. Engage your brain: Research continues to show that staying mentally active is important for healthy aging and a step in slowing and even reducing our risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Go for the protective effect of brain training and keep those neural connections humming with games and intellectual activities that challenge your working memory. Some that seniors on our campus enjoy include Sudoku and crossword puzzles, current events discussion groups, history lectures, classical music concerts, and more.
7.Get regular checkups: Don’t skip your annual well visit with your physician, researchers say. Annual checkups improve the delivery of preventative services in the elderly population, according to a study of Medicare claims. Participating in your annual checkup, which is designed to assess health risk factors, review medical history, and develop personalized prevention plans, helps to promote preventative care, which is essential for seniors to stay healthy and live productive lives.
Whether your goals are to live longer or live healthier, learning from the latest research in senior health may help you remain healthy and independent, longer.