As we age, our bodies undergo many changes. Some are easy to adapt to, while others can be more difficult. Still, others that we may come to accept aren’t ones that we have to live with. Nevertheless, there are things we can do to help our bodies age more gracefully. We will discuss some of the most common bodily changes experienced by aging adults and ways to combat them. From dealing with hot flashes and night sweats to contending with more wrinkles and gray hair, we’ll offer practical tips for making the most of your later years.
One of the biggest mistakes people make as they age is slowing down. This is a huge mistake, as leading a sedentary life results in health problems that can accelerate aging. So, get up and move! Regular exercise helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, balance, and coordination. It also helps improve circulation, keeping your skin looking younger and more radiant. Plus, it’s a great way to combat stress, which can take a toll on your mind and body. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week. Some ideas for getting active include:
- Swimming or Water Aerobics
- Strength Training
- Group Exercise Classes (Yoga, Barre, Pilates)
- Hiking and Biking
Adjust Your Diet and Supplements
Before we start, it’s essential to make a distinction here. Diet isn’t about depriving yourself of the foods you love. It’s about making smart choices that help your body function at its best. As we age, our bodies need different nutrients than when we were younger.
For example, older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone health. We also need more fiber to prevent constipation and maintain our digestive system. Much of this can be gained through a proper diet. But, supplements may be necessary to fill in any gaps. Be sure to talk to your doctor before changing your diet or supplement regimen.
Some specific nutrients that are important for aging adults include:
- Calcium and vitamin D for bone health
- Fiber for digestive health
- Omega-3 fatty acids for heart health
- B vitamins for energy production
- Antioxidants for cell health
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital for everyone, but it becomes even more crucial as we age. That’s because poor sleep can lead to many problems, including fatigue symptoms, irritability, impaired memory, and a weakened immune system. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, as we age, our sleep patterns often change. As a result, it can become harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are a few things you can try:
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Limit or cut out caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Create a calm and inviting sleep environment.
Stress is a normal part of life. But, it can take a toll on our minds and body if we’re not careful. Chronic stress has been linked to various health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and depression. So, it’s essential to find ways to manage stress healthily. Some helpful tips include:
- Identify your stressors and find ways to alleviate them.
- Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Exercise regularly.
- Spend time with friends and family that make you happy.
Work with Professionals
Not all of the changes your body goes through have to happen. Many simply accept issues like dry skin and thinning hair as inevitable parts of aging. But, there are ways to prevent or treat many of the changes we associate with growing old. And, believe it or not, much of it affects hormone levels. By working with professionals to understand how your hormones change as you age, you can work to keep them at healthy levels. This can help prevent or treat things like:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased sex drive
- Bone loss
- Muscle loss
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
Stay Social and Connected
It’s easy to become isolated as we age. We might retire from our jobs or have kids that move away. But, staying social and connected to those around us is important. Social interaction has been linked to various mental and physical health benefits, including a lower risk of dementia, improved mental well-being, and increased longevity.
Fortunately, especially when retired, we have the extra time to explore more social activities and make more friends. Consider taking up new hobbies, joining social clubs, or volunteering. Getting involved in your community is a great way to meet new people and stay active. So, try to keep in touch with friends and family, meet new people and form new relationships. Doing so will help you age in a much healthier way.
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health at any age. But, it becomes even more dangerous as we get older. That’s because smoking speeds up the aging process by causing things like wrinkles, yellowing skin, and age spots. It also increases your risk of developing various health problems, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and COPD. So, if you’re a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health as you age.
Get Regular Checkups
Preventative approaches to healthcare are becoming more popular and are crucial for aging adults to maintain their health. Seeing your doctor regularly can help catch problems early before they become more serious.
In addition to seeing your regular doctor, there are a few other important screenings for aging adults. These include:
- Bone density test to check for osteoporosis
- Mammogram to check for breast cancer
- Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to check for colorectal cancer
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening to check for aortic aneurysms
- Lipid panel to check your cholesterol levels
Catching these potentially devastating problems early is crucial to your health as you age. But, trust us, nothing will make you age faster than going through major surgery or chemo in your 60s or later.
You’re in Control
While there are some things that we can’t control as we age, there are many things that we can. These include our lifestyle choices, social interactions, and how often we see our doctor. So, take charge of your health and make the necessary changes to age healthily.