Staying healthy into your golden years is totally possible, but it does take some extra planning and precautions. You need to be even more careful than you were in younger years since you don’t bounce back as quickly. Here are eight tips to help you stay healthy after age 65 and beyond:
Build your strength.
As adults — especially women — get old, their bones and muscles slowly lose mass, making them weaker and more prone to fractures and other injuries. You can help slow this bone and muscle loss by sticking with a strength routine that works all the major muscle groups of your body. Lifting weights, using resistance bands and even doing bodyweight exercises will all help your body stay strong even as you age. If you have never done strength exercises before, you might want to book a few sessions with a personal trainer who works with seniors. When you are ready to retire, you can consider moving to a senior assisted living home, where there are plenty of activities for seniors. They will be able to show you the proper form so you don’t accidentally injure yourself during your strength training.
Did you know that getting older can affect your ability to feel thirsty? It’s true! You can lose your ability to feel thirst just as you can lose your hearing or your eyesight. Many seniors become dehydrated without even knowing it, which can result in a host of health problems, including hospitalizations in severe cases. Keep track of how much water you drink a day and try to aim for 64 oz. a day (or eight 8-ounce glasses of water) as a general rule. Your doctor can provide guidance on how much you should be drinking for your individual needs. If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try infusing it with fruits or vegetables to give it some flavor.
You need to make sure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs at every stage of your life, and that includes your golden years. In fact, you need to be even more careful about your diet when you get older because your metabolism slows down. You might also find your stomach becoming more sensitive as you age, requiring you to limit how much you eat certain foods. Many seniors also find it difficult to grocery shop and cook, which can make it more difficult to create nutritious meals. Talk with your doctor about how you can get the nutrients you need while still following any dietary restrictions.
Get enough sleep.
As we age, we tend to need to sleep less. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to sleep or that you can throw good sleep habits out the window. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night, and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day to encourage your body to stick to a sleep schedule. Try to limit daytime naps as well as caffeine consumption, both of which can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. Avoid screens right before bed and keep the bedroom dark to aid in sleep.
Be vigilant about fall prevention.
Falling is a major source of injury (and death) among older adults. It’s much easier to prevent a fall than to recover from one, which is why you need to be vigilant about fall prevention no matter how spry you feel. Wear skid-resistant shoes for swollen feet even when inside to prevent your feet from slipping. Remove fall risks, such as loose cords and rugs, from your home and office. Do exercises to improve your balance and strength, which will further reduce your odds of falling.
Don’t depend on substances.
It can be tempting to overindulge in certain substances, especially alcohol and smoking, as you get older. After all, you probably figured that you have made it this far, so you deserve to treat yourself a little. While the occasional cocktail or cigar is fine, try not to have too much, as you will feel the effects much more sharply now than when you were younger. Be careful with medications as well, both over the counter and prescription. Addiction to medical drugs is a major issue among older adults. If you find yourself taking more and more medication to manage pain or other symptoms, talk to your doctor about switching to a different drug.
Make small lifestyle changes.
The world isn’t designed for aging people — just try to undo some shirt buttons with arthritic hands and you’ll see what we mean. As such, making small lifestyle changes such as using ergonomic utensils can help you continue to live independently for longer than you would have otherwise. For example, switching to adaptive clothing such as men’s elastic waist pants and women’s elastic waist pants can help you continue to dress yourself long after regular clothing becomes too difficult to handle
Continue to find meaningful activities.
Just because you’re no longer working doesn’t mean that you should spend all your time loafing around playing golf. Work is often a huge source of fulfillment and satisfaction for people, and it can actually be really hard to cope with no longer working. Many retirees feel aimless, like they don’t have a purpose — but volunteering or working part-time is a great way to get that motivation back. Look for volunteer opportunities in your area that resonate with your interests. You have a lot of experience and wisdom to draw on, and giving back to your community is a great way to take advantage of that.
Follow these eight tips to stay healthy after age 65 and to make the most of your retirement years!