Everyone ages, but not everyone ages in the same way. September is Healthy Aging Month and an opportunity to help people focus on physical and mental health practices to age well and invest in long-term quality of life. Healthy Aging Month has been celebrated for 30 year with options to instill new routines, learn about healthy habits, and participate in educational events. This month is all about reminders to stay healthy, develop new skills, and expand our knowledge base so that we can move into the coming years with joy and anticipation. With those goals in mind, here are some categories to consider as you plan your healthy aging approach.
Build Healthy Routines
Life flows more smoothly when we know the rhythm of the day. That’s why healthy routines not only help reduce stress and anxiety, but also allow us to prioritize our health no matter what the current responsibilities require. To begin improving your health, consider your current routines and if small changes might make a big difference in your mental and physical health.
Quality sleep is vital for rejuvenating the body and brain because proper sleep improves alertness and energy, enhances memory and attention, and directly impacts mental and physical health. Of course, getting a good night’s sleep is not always as easy as turning off the light and sinking into a soft pillow. A sleep routine can help improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. Keep a regular bedtime, reduce heat, light, and noise before bed, take a warm bath or shower before climbing into bed, and talk with your doctor about current medications that could interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep.
42 percent of Americans have put on an average of 29 pounds since the pandemic started. Consequently, changing your diet can feel like a chore, or it can be a positive change for the future. A routine of cooking meals at home with music in the background, fresh vegetables, whole grains, and proteins on the counter, and a new recipe to try will not only help the waistline but improve the mood too. Take a trip to the library to check out a new cookbook or visit a recipe website for inspiration (Pinterest is a great option for finding new recipes and saving and organizing them for future use). Or, consider signing up for a cooking class to learn new skills and meet new people at the same time.
With age comes wisdom but that doesn’t mean we always have the answers. Transitioning from full-time work to retirement, dealing with a medical diagnosis, coping with grief, and re-thinking relationships with friends and family as life changes are all good reasons to seek outside advice. Additionally, investing in quality counseling can help a person sort through the many questions related to aging and establish confidence and happiness about the future. Check with your insurance to find a list of therapists covered by your plan.
Develop Healthy Habits
As you improve your daily routines, also consider how your daily habits impact your health and mental outlook. Here are three areas to examine:
Just 30 minutes of movement a day will benefit every aspect of your health and reduce the risk of all-cause mortality. Exercise is good for the brain, slows down aging, creates muscle strength, improves skin, boosts confidence, and reduces stress. The goal is to move more and sit less with exercises like walking, tennis, swimming, and dancing. If you play golf, think about walking the course. If you have a favorite tv show consider utilizing a rowing machine or treadmill to move while you watch.
The benefits from quitting smoking are immediate and long-term. While this is a hard habit to break, the overall impact on your health cannot be overstated. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of premature death and can add as much as ten years to your life. It will improve your overall health status and enhance your quality of life. Moreover, it reduces cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer risks and those risk reductions increase the longer you go without smoking.
Reduce Alcohol Usage
While many adults enjoy a glass of wine or a craft beer with dinner, alcohol consumption can inhibit health aging in several ways, including:
- Increased Sensitivity: Because of increased sensitivity to alcohol, older adults are at a higher risk of impaired balance and falls.
- Dehydration: As people age, their body mass changes, and the balance of water and sodium in the body shifts. Alcohol can contribute to this imbalance which is often an underlying factor in falls and hospitalizations.
- Interactions with Medications: One of the most significant health risks among seniors is mixing alcohol and medication. Alcohol can reduce medication effectiveness, intensify side effects, or even increase drug toxicity.
- Liver Fatigue: The liver filters medications, alcohol, and other toxins from your blood, it stores vitamins and iron. Many health issues result from an overtaxed liver that could use a break.
Learning something new is the best way to keep your mind engaged and forestall the aging process. Is there something you’ve always been interested in but other work or family responsibilities took priority? Now might be the time to revisit that interest!
- Community Classes: Many local libraries and community centers offer adult education classes at no cost or for a nominal fee.
- College Classes: Community colleges are a great way to dip your toes back into formal education. Now might be the time to finish up a degree you started long ago, or perhaps it’s time to develop a new passion!
- Volunteer: There are endless opportunities to volunteer in local communities. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity to use skills you already have, learn something new, meet new people, and give back to your community all at the same time.
Participating in Healthy Aging Month
Getting caught up in the message that we should mourn our lost youth and approach aging with dread is easy. But there are many positive aspects to growing older, and Healthy Aging Month is the perfect time to start making those changes.
- Make a Change: Choose an activity and commit to learning and doing it. Walking, biking, swimming, cooking class, meal planning. Start with one and commit to it.
- Accountability Partner: Find a friend to keep you accountable. Do the activity together, and check in with each other. Set a time to text to check in or encourage
- Keep Learning – Many community centers, medical facilities, and clubs plan Healthy Aging Month-specific activities and learning opportunities. Check in with your local library or check out the community newspaper to find out what’s going on in your area. Aging is a fact of life, but we can make it sweeter by participating in it together.
About Generations Home Care
“Stay Fit! Stay Adventurous! Stay Healthy! Stay Connected!” This is the encouragement Healthy Aging Month offers and Generations Home Care’s personalized in-home care and support services can help you find the best ways to incorporate that energy and commitment into your life. We assist those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.