Tips on Healthy Aging

February 15, 2017
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers a publication and detailed information on healthy tips for older and aging adults. With work schedules, and families, one may neglect taking care of themselves, but healthy habits started early can lead to continuing those habits into later stages of life, and may help reduce the risk of disease later in life. Always check with your doctor(s) before you start a new exercise routine/program, diet changes, start a new supplement, or a desire to decrease or eliminate any medications.
Maintain a Healthy Weight The body's make-up changes as we age. Metabolism slows down, and we often do not burn as many calories throughout the day. In order to maintain a healthy weight, eating less calories is helpful, as well as eating nutrient dense foods. Being underweight is just as much of a concern as being overweight. Being underweight means you are most likely not getting enough nutrients. Being overweight puts you at risk for type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and bone/joint issues, just to name a few.
Healthy Eating
  • Focus on eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables with lots of color
  • Eat whole grains, and brown rice
  • Poultry, lean meats, high quality seafood, and eggs
  • Control portion sizes--which is the amount of food you eat for each meal
    • Avoid eating in front of a screen (i.e. television, cell phone, tablets, etc)
    • Check the food labels that state how many calories, grams of sugar and salt
EAT LESS of sugar sweetened drinks and desserts, foods with butter, margarine, or shortening, white breads, white rice, pasta from refine grains. PLAN AND PREPARE your meals to make cooking easier. This may mean a day of meal prep that family or a caregiver can assist with. Meal prep allows for portioning out into containers for weekly meals, or for freezing meals. Keeping frozen and canned vegetables and fruits stocked for quick sides, making sure to rinse off all canned food to decrease the amount of salt and sugars.  Also keeping trail mixes, granola bars, and nut butters available for snacking can help avoid the reach for junk food--candy, chips, etc. EATING ON A BUDGET can be daunting, especially if you are not used to it. Have someone assist you at the store to help you read labels, organize a list, and get the groceries safely to and from the store to the house. Purchase store brands as able, purchase bulk items, and use coupons. Check out the newspaper or online for weekly sales. KEEP AN EYE ON SODIUM INTAKE
  • Reduce the amount of sodium daily to 1500 mg.
  • Limit packaged foods, which often contain large amounts of sodium to preserve foods
  • Reduce salt when cooking. Use a variety of spices instead.
Contact your Doctor or Dentist  if....
  • Chewing and/or swallowing becomes difficult
  • No interest in eating or having a change in appetite
  • Issues with your dentures
  • Life events keep you from eating or having an appetite (moving to a new location, death of a loved one or friend, medical diagnosis)
  • Medications make food taste different, or foods have no taste
Physical Activity
  • It is good for people of every age to participate in some sort of physical activity and exercise daily
  • Increases endurance, balance, flexibility, strength
  • Pick activities that you enjoy, and that are safe for you to do
  • Find activities that work with your mobility level as well as any health issues
  • Change it up when it comes to the type of exercise you do--stretching and yoga, aerobics, walking, personal training, to name a few
  • When starting something new--START SLOW! You will build to more intensity
  • Always wear sturdy shoes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • If you ever feel lightheaded or dizzy--STOP what you are doing and sit down
Be Good to Yourself!!!
  • Stay in touch with family and friends--this could be in person, through mail, e-mail, or over the phone. Ask family or your caregiver to help update your address book.
  • Join a social group, or exercise group to meet new people and stay social
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy breakfast every day
  • Drink plenty of water or water-based fluids
Take care of yourself, ask questions if you have them, educate yourself if you can. You only have one body, be kind.