September is Healthy Aging Month, so we’ve collected some great tips that will help you live your best life as you get older.
1. Focus on Nutrition
Having good nutrition can help you with healthy aging. What you eat has a huge effect on your overall health and wellness at all ages. However, as you get older, paying attention to your diet becomes even more important. Your metabolism changes and slows as you age, so maintaining a healthy diet is necessary for weight management.
Other than helping you stay at a healthy weight (which can help you avoid other health issues), a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel better overall. Eating whole foods and avoiding processed food full of sugar or saturated fat will keep you feeling energized. Lastly, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), older adults may also become more susceptible to foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.
2. Manage and Monitor Health Conditions
Another key to staying healthy as you age is making sure you are managing any chronic health conditions you have. Some conditions have the potential to get more serious as you get older, so make sure you work with your healthcare providers to monitor and manage them. Common conditions that you need to monitor include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
3. Stay Active
If you want to feel young even while you get older, staying active is the way to do it. Exercise can help you prevent and manage chronic diseases, improve balance, improve stamina, improve brain health, and reduce your risk of falling (and possibly getting a fracture if you have osteoporosis). The CDC says you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each weak, preferably spread out through the weak. You should also participate in some type of muscle-strengthening activity like low-impact resistance training.
4. Get Necessary Health Screenings
Another key to healthy aging is to make sure you keep going to your doctor for health screenings and checkups. Even if you do not have a chronic condition, you still need to be screened for cancer and other diseases on a regular basis. Your primary care doctor or a specialist can give you recommendations on how often you need mammograms, Pap tests, and colon cancer screenings.
5. Take Care of Your Skin
One thing many people are concerned about as they age is the health and appearance of their skin. Women especially are pressured to fight wrinkles and other signs of aging. Your skin does change as you age so you might want to take extra care with it. We’re not suggesting cosmetic procedures or injectables (unless you want those). It’s perfectly acceptable to embrace your laugh lines and not worry that type of thing, there are steps you can take to protect your skin as you get older. The American Academy of Dermatology has some helpful tips on keeping your skin healthy and youthful.
6. Look After Your Mental Health
Taking care of your mental health is also important for healthy aging. Reducing stress and being in touch with your feelings can go a long way to helping you age well. Spend time with people you love, participate in hobbies you enjoy, and try to keep a positive attitude about aging. If you’re having mental health issues such as depression, seek help from a doctor or another healthcare provider.
7. Kick Unhealthy Habits
If you want to stay as healthy as possible as you age, you should kick any bad habits you have. That means quitting smoking or using other tobacco products and limiting how much alcohol you drink. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are unhealthy at any age and you should quit as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage. However, if you’ve never been able to give up cigarettes, it’s not too late to quit. Talk to your doctor about how you can get help quitting or visit Smokefree.gov for resources.
8. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is another important component of healthy aging. Most adults don’t get the amount of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation (7 to 9 hours for most adults). Some people also have problems sleeping when they get older. During menopause or perimenopause, many women have difficulty sleeping due to night sweats or having to get up to use the bathroom. If you’re having issues with sleep, talk to your healthcare provider.
9. Talk to Your Doctor About Concerns
If you have concerns about your health that aren’t related to any of the previous topics, make sure you talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about those concerns. Just like keeping up with regular exams and routine screenings, you shouldn’t delay seeing the doctor when a problem comes up.
Consult a Menopause Practitioner
Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology is a certified menopause practitioner, experienced in helping patients as they transition to menopause. She can give you guidance on practices that promote healthy aging. She is also an expert in hormone replacement therapy if you are dealing with the effects of menopause or another hormonal imbalance.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Clark, call (919) 960-2720. Chapel Hill Gynecology is open for office visits (using recommended protocols for preventing COVID-19 exposure) as well as telemedicine visits.