What's In This Article?
This article was originally published by our friends at BoomingEncore.com.
Everyone hopes to live a long and happy life. But unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen the way we plan. There are many things that can derail our health and ultimate longevity but there are also some things that we can do to help improve our odds.
So, if you are looking for some ideas to help you positively age here’s a list of 20 things that you could choose from. Hopefully, a few of them will motivate you to make some changes.
#1: Eat healthy foods
This one is something that we probably all know we should do but often may find we don’t. There is so much evidence now of how what we fuel our bodies will having a long-term effect on our longevity. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans have all been proven to have a significant impact on how well we age. The National Institute On Aging breaks down the different food groups here.
Exercise is another one of those things that you would probably have to live under a rock to not know how much it contributes to how well we age. And the good news is that you can start later in life and it still can help lengthen our longevity. Walking, running, weight and resistance training, dancing, pickle ball, ping pong – whatever it is that get’s you active and up off the couch is a good thing. The old adage – move it or lose it could never be more true then now.
#3: Learn Something New
Looking to keep your brain healthy. Learn something new. And the more complex it is the better. Last year brain expert Barbara Arrowsmith Young joined us and shared some things we could do. The trick is to select something that will increase in difficulty as you go. For example, learning a new language or playing an instrument are all great as it can get progressively more challenging.
#4: Find Your Tribe
How many friends do you have? Not acquaintances, not work associates but real friends. The people you can do things with. The people that you can confide in. This is important – especially as we age. Loneliness and isolation are serious concerns so if you haven’t got that many you may want to seriously focus on this. Join a group, sign up for a class – do something that interests you. Chances are you will then find others who have similar interests.
Did you know that volunteering is not only good for others but also good for your brain? A study led by the University of Calgary discovered that seniors who volunteered at least once a week on a regular basis were 2.4 times less likely to develop dementia than those who didn’t volunteer. So if you’ve got some time to spare, spending it helping others could be a real boost to them and you.
#6: Drink More Water
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you’re looking for a mantra this would be a good one. As we age, the importance of drinking enough water increases. According to John Muir Health;
“As you age, your sense of thirst lessens and the kidney isn’t able to conserve body water as well. Over the age of 50, you may feel tired and draggy rather than thirsty, and may opt for a nap instead of a tall glass of water. If you remain dehydrated, you can end up suffering complications, some of which can be serious.”
#7: Talk To Your Partner About Your Retirement Plans
Have you had the talk with your partner about what you plan on doing in retirement? If you haven’t, you’re not alone, more than two thirds of non-retired Baby Boomers have not discussed what their hopes are when they eventually stop working with their significant others. Have the discussion. With the increase in divorce rates over 50 this is probably an extremely worthwhile conversation to have sooner rather than later.
#8: Write / Update Your Will
You may have remembered the internal fighting and turmoil of some famous people’s families after they died because they didn’t have a will. Even though you may not have their resources they point to a critical need when aging. What will happen to your assets after you are gone. You may not want to think about it, but it’s important. The last thing you want to leave is your family and loved ones either trying to guess what you would have liked or worse case ignite a fight or family estrangement.
#9: Establish Your End Of Life Plans
Since we’re already talking about wills, we might as well add in your end of life plans. Again, I know this isn’t a pleasant thing to necessarily think of but would you want your family having to try and make these critical decisions on your behalf without any direction? Is that really fair?
#10: Take Care Of Your Oral Health
Do you brush, floss and visit the dentist on a regular basis? If not, this may be a good addition to your list of things to do. As Harvard Health shared;
“There’s mounting evidence of an association between gum inflammation and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems, all of which are more prevalent in later life. Scientists postulate that bacteria from gum infections travel through the bloodstream to trigger inflammation in organs and tissues at distant sites.”
#11: Be Optimistic for Positive Aging
Evidence is mounting on the relationship between optimism and longevity. Research has discovered that having a sense optimism can have an impact on your overall health as you age. So much so that people who considered themselves “most” optimistic felt 12.5 years younger than their actual age. Even if you’re not naturally optimistic, there are some things you can do to help you become this way.
#12: Get Your Hearing Checked
More and more evidence is pointing to the importance of hearing and the impact it can have on your life as we age. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, loss of hearing has been now linked to increased falls, declining cognitive functioning, heart health, diabetes and kidney issues. So it’s a good idea to include your hearing in your preventive health focus.
#13: Laugh More
There’s an old saying, laughter is the best medicine and it’s true. When you laugh you release a tidal wave of positive things for your body. It reduces stress, increases your intake of oxygen, improves your immune system just to name a few. So have a good chuckle – feels good and is good for you.
#14: Make Your Bed Everyday
When I was a kid I used to argue with my parents why did I need to make my bed since I was just going to get back into that night anyways. Well, turns out there is some positive things that can come from a made bed. It can start your day off right by starting the day with an accomplishment. It can lead to increased productivity and calm you as you kickstart your day with a chain of good decisions and organization. It also gives you something to look forward to at the end of the day rather then a mess of sheets and blankets.
Is there someone in your life that you just can’t forgive? Are you possibly carrying grudges or are bitter towards them? Then maybe this is the time for you to let this go. According to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness can lead to;
- Healthier relationships
- Improved mental health
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- A stronger immune system
- Improved heart health
- Improved self-esteem
So if you can, forgive them. I just love this quote on this; “Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.” Too true.
#16: Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
As we get older, our ability to break down alcohol decreases and our brain and muscles can be exposed more to the toxic effects of alcohol. Combine this with the fact that many older people are also taking medications and this can be quite a dangerous situation. Alcohol can also increase the incidents of falls, accidents plus a number of other health issues.
#17: Read A Book
When was the last time you picked up a book and read? I’m not talking about an article on the internet but a real book with pages that made you concentrate longer then just a two minute read. As reported by World Health, there is some interesting research from Yale University that discovered in a study of 3,635 men and women over the age of 50;
“Those who read books for up to 3.5 hours weekly were 17% less likely to die over the 12 year follow-up, compared to those who did not read books. Those who read for over 3.5 hours per week were 23% less likely to die. Over the course of the 12 years, the adults who read books survived almost 2 years longer than the adults who did not read.”
#18: Use Sunscreen
One of the best ways to stop skin cancer is to block the sun’s dangerous rays. This is where sunscreen comes in. Harvard Health breaks down some of the common myths some people may have about the benefits of sunscreen in this article. As well, the other added benefit to aging is that sunscreen not only protects your skin, but it may also actually reduce wrinkles.
Meditation and aging are proving to be a very interesting combination. There is a growing body of evidence meditation can help lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and protect our telomeres (which are often linked to being an indicator of how well someone is aging). Here’s some additional research on this. At any rate, there really is minimal risks if you meditate and some pretty good benefits so this might be a good one to incorporate into your plans.
#20: Take A Chance
What have you always wanted to do but haven’t yet done it? One thing about getting older is you realize that your time here on earth is not never-ending and our own mortality comes into view. So if there is something that you have been putting off, maybe now is the right time to do it. As is so often said, if not now – when?