Ingrid Bergman once said: “Getting old is like climbing a mountain; you get a little out of breath but the view is much better!”
The late model Cindy Joseph, who embraced her advancing years, noted, “Ageing is just another word for living”.
It sure beats the alternative and that’s why it’s important to stay healthy as long as possible.
There are many different aspects to growing old gracefully, not the least being a positive state of mind.
That means accepting your age, spending quality time with family and friends and doing things you enjoy rather than wasting time on things you don’t.
Stress is a killer by promoting inflammation in the body which leads to all sorts of problems so do anything you can to avoid it.
Perhaps consider relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga or tai chi which have physical benefits as well as mental ones.
While a positive outlook and your mental health are as important as anything, there are many things you can do from a physical perspective to stay healthy while getting older.
The importance of regular check-ups with your doctor helps you stay healthy and can’t be understated.
These should become more frequent as you age.
Your doctor will likely order a blood test with a wide range of health indicators including cholesterol levels.
They will also check your blood pressure and may wish to run precautionary tests for colon, cervical, breast or prostate cancers as well as osteoporosis.
A regular skin check, either with your GP or a specialist is also advisable to guard against nasty skin cancers.
Don’t neglect your eyes or dental health either!
Eating a balanced diet high in fibre is critical.
It helps ward off the likes of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and is a great way to stay healthy.
Put a line through processed and fast foods wherever possible.
Concentrate on whole foods – that means vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, low-fat dairy and nuts.
Limit saturated fats including fatty meat, butter and foods high in sugar and salt.
Look for protein from fish, beans and lentils instead.
Remaining physically active is also vital and keeps chronic illnesses at bay.
Ideally, you should be walking 30 minutes every day.
Break it down into smaller segments if you can’t do it all at once but it is important to get your heart rate up to a level where it is having to work.
This is also great for keeping your weight down, maintaining the condition of your bones and muscles, boosting your mood and helping you sleep better.
Swimming, cycling, dancing or similar aerobic activities have all the same benefits.
Like diet, a balanced exercise routine goes a long way to helping you age better.
As we age, we find it harder to get to sleep and to stay asleep.
Regular habits help to this end as does avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening and excess screen time which overstimulates your mind.
Ensure your bedroom is dark, especially in the morning and try to avoid napping during the day.
If you are still struggling, ask your doctor for advice regarding any medications that could be interfering with your sleep hormones.
You know what they are: smoking and drinking are the prime offenders.
Cigarettes and other products with nicotine invite a gamut of nasties such as heart disease, cancer, lung and gum disease.
Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, try again! Every day you are a non-smoker will make a difference.
Drinking in excess promotes liver damage and other cancers. Men should restrict themselves to two standard drinks a day and women one.
You should be generally aiming to acquire all of your vitamins and minerals from what you eat.
But once we reach 50, there are times we could use an extra little boost and that’s where supplements may be useful.
Talk to your doctor to gauge your personal needs but it is possible a regular course of some or all of the following could be beneficial:
Calcium – maintains bone strength and health
Vitamin B6 – boosts red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body
Vitamin B12 – important for cell metabolism and nerve function and older people have trouble absorbing it from food
Vitamin D – helps fight colds for those who don’t get enough sun
Drink enough water
By the time you realise you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated.
Men should drink at least 2.5 litres of water per day and women two litres.
High-salt foods, alcohol, tea and coffee all serve to dehydrate us, along with our levels of activity, hence the need to keep our fluid levels topped up.
Remaining hydrated is good for our energy levels and brain function.
Curiously, it also reduces signs of ageing, partly by keeping our skin healthier.
Mind over matter
While staying physically active will help keep your mind sharp, playing Scrabble, Sudoku or chess, doing crossword puzzles and reading are all great oils for your brain as well.
You really do have to use it or lose it and face a greater risk of dementia.
Book an appointment
Building a solid rapport with your doctor by way of regular scheduled check-ups is the best way to stay healthy as the years advance.
We can help develop a strategy for your ongoing healthcare.
We’ll assess your risk profile as well as monitoring your progress as you age.
Talk openly and honestly with your doctor about how you feel and any concerns you may have so small problems can be nipped in the bud before they become big problems.
Your doctor can also discuss with you how to live a healthier lifestyle and help identify any warning signs that need to be followed up.
Regular health checks should become more frequent with age.
Book one today at the Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or the Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.