How To Make Aging Work For You
Our aging process begins from the time of conception. As children, we greet each birthday as a welcomed celebration. By the time we reach our 30s, 40s, and 50s, our enthusiasm toward aging wanes. In fact, it can become all too easy for us to take on the “anti-aging” sentiment that is so prevalent in today’s society. After all, who wants to get old?
Let’s shake it up. Instead of ignoring or feeling despair that you are getting older, try embracing a more positive approach. Get a jumpstart on your aging process by learning what to expect and how to maximize the quality of your health and well-being as you age.
According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic, here are some important tips to consider with aging.
Your Cardiovascular System
The most common change in the cardiovascular system is stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. The heart muscles change to adjust to the increased workload. Your heart rate at rest will stay about the same, but it won’t increase during activities as much as it used to. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.
To promote heart health:
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other activities you enjoy. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your heart disease risk.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and salt.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases your blood pressure and heart rate. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.
- Manage stress. Stress can take a toll on your heart. Take steps to reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise or talk therapy.
- Get enough sleep. Quality sleep plays an important role in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.
Your Bones, Joints and Muscles
With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.
To promote bone, joint and muscle health:
- Get adequate amounts of calcium. The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for adults. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg daily for women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon and tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about calcium supplements.
- Get adequate amounts of vitamin D. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over 70. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight. Other sources include tuna, salmon, eggs, vitamin D-fortified milk and vitamin D supplements.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs and weight training can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.
- Avoid substance abuse. Avoid smoking and limit alcoholic drinks. Ask your doctor about how much alcohol might be safe for your age, sex and general health.
Your Memory and Thinking Skills
Your brain undergoes changes as you age that may have minor effects on your memory or thinking skills. For example, healthy older adults might forget familiar names or words, or they may find it more difficult to multitask.
You can promote cognitive health by taking the following steps:
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. Studies suggest regular exercise is associated with better brain function and reduces stress and depression — factors that affect memory.
- Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet may benefit your brain. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. Too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss.
- Stay mentally active. Staying mentally active may help sustain your memory and thinking skills. You can read, play word games, take up a new hobby, take classes, or learn to play an instrument.
- Be social. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. You might volunteer at a local school or nonprofit, spend time with family and friends, or attend social events.
- Treat cardiovascular disease. Follow your doctor’s recommendations to manage cardiovascular risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — that may increase the risk of cognitive decline.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting smoking may help your cognitive health.
If you’re concerned about memory loss or other changes in your thinking skills, talk to your doctor.
Your Eyes and Ears
With age, you might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. You might become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect your eye’s lens, causing clouded vision (cataracts).
Your hearing also might diminish. You might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.
To promote eye and ear health:
- Schedule regular checkups. Follow your doctor’s advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices.
- Take precautions. Wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outdoors, and use earplugs when you’re around loud machinery or other loud noises.
How your body burns calories (metabolism) slows down as you age. If you decrease activities as you age, but continue to eat the same as usual, you’ll gain weight. To maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat healthy.
To maintain a healthy weight:
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit sugar and foods high in saturated fat.
- Watch your portion sizes. To cut calories, keep an eye on your portion sizes.
**Source: Mayo Clinic Staff