Getting older is inevitable but that doesn’t mean you can’t age with grace. How we live in our bodies, dramatically influences how we age. We can care for them or we can use them and abuse them!
Unfortunately, life didn’t come with an instruction manual on how to best care for our aging bodies and it isn’t something taught to us in school. It is up to each of us individually to learn for ourselves and to figure out what works. I want to help you get started on the right track to aging gracefully with 10 helpful tips.
There is no question that our bodies do change over time, but the myths of aging have discouraged seniors from making healthy lifestyle changes because they feel it is too late and aging is inevitable. Most people believe that they are too old to exercise and that aging is a hopeless battle.
Here is the thing; yes, you CAN lose half of your muscle mass by the time you are 80, BUT if you are exercising then you won’t lose nearly that much. You can also gain muscle in your 80's, so you can continually improve. It isn’t too late to change your habits, increase your strength levels, and improve your flexibility and balance. The physical and mental decline that is associated with aging can't be completely prevented, but it can be slowed down significantly.
Aging doesn't have to be a struggle.
Aging doesn't have to be painful.
Aging doesn't have to be depressing.
You can age and still feel full of vitality. I'm sure you know at least one person in their 70's that has more vitality than someone in their 40's.
As our bodies age, they will naturally have different needs. We need different vitamins and supplements, more water, more sleep, more stretching etc. We can also use DNA testing to find out a lot of helpful information to guide us in eating the best foods and taking the best supplements for our specific genetics in an effort to prevent disease.
Any healthy lifestyle starts with listening and responding to our bodies. Building a customized wellness plan and setting a goal is a great way to hold yourself accountable for creating the life that you want, now and in the years to come.
Here are a few tips to help create your plan to age with ease:
1: Move Your Body: How we use our bodies tells it what is important and what is not.
For example, if we are not physically active and bearing weight in our daily activities, our bodies take the cue and don’t rebuild a strong bone structure, because they don't see it as necessary for our lifestyle.
Traditional exercise or the thought of a gym may make you run for the hills, but it may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Getting outside and enjoying nature is a great way to increase your stamina, lung capacity, joint health, and much more. Walking just 30 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week, dramatically reduces your risk for common diseases. The great news is that 30 minutes doesn’t have to be all at once. Break it up into 10 or 15-minute segments, and the benefits are the same.
2: Stay Flexible: While exercise is important for overall health, adding in practices that increase mobility and flexibility, such as foam rolling or stretching, are important ways to reduce the risk of falls.
Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people over the age of 65. Two-thirds of those who fall will do so again within six months. Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 and older. Approximately 3 million emergency room visits and 9,500 deaths are associated with falls in older Americans each year.
Falling can happen for a variety of reasons but it is generally caused by a decline in balance and flexibility. Having tight, stiff muscles makes it harder to quickly respond to being thrown off balance and this is what can make falls more severe. Flexibility helps you continue to have a very active lifestyle for as long as possible. The lack of mobility and strength is what diminishes your freedom as you age. Sitting down and standing up from the toilet is a freedom I'm sure you don't want to lose.
3: Eat As Your Life Depends On It: Our bodies are built for renewal. The human body entirely rebuilds itself, cell by cell, every seven years. Now, like building any beautiful home, that process relies on quality building materials and cues from the inhabitants on how they use the space. The way you use your body and the foods and supplements you take are continually changing the way your body renews itself based on the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients available.
It is equally important to be active and to give our bodies the right nutrients from both our diet and supplements. We can’t always get everything we need from our diet and appetites can dwindle with age, so that is why supplements and vitamins can be very important to help you regenerate better. If you’re using cheap inefficient materials to build your house, you’re probably not going to be featured on the cover of Architectural Digest. Think about food as the fuel in your gas tank and make sure it is a high octane, premium grade!
4: Make Your Doctor Your Partner: If your current doctor is not someone who you feel comfortable disclosing information to or someone that listens and supports your health goals, find another doctor. As we age, we need to keep up with appropriate tests, and often, we have to be proactive advocates for our own health. You want someone in your corner who can equip you with a customized plan to manage your chronic illnesses and stay healthy! It's important you find someone you feel comfortable being open and honest with.
5: Manage Your Chronic Illnesses: The better you manage your chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., the better your quality of life will be as you age. There are recent studies that link diabetes with a high risk of dementia later in life. All chronic illnesses can benefit from proper nutrition and supplements. Look for the natural ways you can support your body's needs.
6: It is Never Too Late: Regardless of where you are in the aging process it is never too late to quit unhealthy habits, such as smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet, etc., and it is never too late to replace them with healthy habits. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle can begin NOW. You can still gain muscle and improve your flexibility well into your eighties.
7: Communicate Your Goals: We are much more likely to achieve a goal that we want when we share it with others. Write down your health goals and your specific plans to get there and share them with your doctor, your loved ones, and friends. The positive energy, encouragement, and accountability will be an asset to your journey.
8: Make It Doable: While our intentions always remain good, it is our behaviors that make lasting changes in our lives. Your customized health plan should be easy to follow, fun, and creative.
Consider making a checkup and tests calendar to remind yourself to check in with your body. Make exercise activities fun and throw in your hobbies to give yourself variety in the ways you stay active. Be creative in the ways that you work in your new healthy habits. For example, bring your walking shoes to the book club and have a walk and talk day. Take a yoga or kayaking class with a group of friends. Engage in travel or art museums that naturally include a lot of walking as you enjoy. Try to simply upgrade your current habits so these new healthy changes feel doable and not overwhelming.
9: Advance Directives: Getting our end-of-life affairs completed early in life is a huge gift to ourselves and our families. It takes the guesswork out of a traumatic situation and reduces the stress put on family members. Document your wishes and have a family conversation about what you want and the role you would like them to play in the event that you are unable to make decisions. This will bring you peace of mind that can help lower your stress levels too. Stress is the root cause for over 90% of disease so keeping your stress levels low is an important part of remaining healthy.
10: Assess the Financial Impact: When we’re planning for the future, we always have to talk about money. It is often a foundation for our goals. Your long-term health plan should take a look at the funds needed to care for yourself and/or your spouse in the future.
The better you care for yourself, the more money you will save in healthcare costs later in life. A healthy lifestyle is the greatest investment you can make in your future and the biggest money saver.
I hope these ten tips will help you create a plan that will help you age with ease. Nobody wants to suffer or die a painful death. I think we would all like to go peacefully in our sleep at a nice old age! I do believe that is possible if you are willing to do the self-care necessary.
I had an interesting conversation with a client yesterday because he is in complete denial of his age. He feels young and doesn’t want to think about how old he actually is. Denial is not your friend when it comes to age! We have a million little choices we make on a daily basis that can bring us closer to health or illness. If we are mindful of our age and what happens during the aging process, then we can make better decisions on how to care for our bodies daily.
Are you living in denial or are you mindfully preparing? Leave a comment below and let me know where you are at with your aging journey!
Don’t delay any longer. It is time to start taking better care of your body today.
Download my FREE Guide to Healthy Aging to learn simple tips to care for your body in each decade of life!
I help baby boomers learn to care for their bodies so they can age with ease. If you would like to slow down the aging process, get a custom wellness plan designed just for you! I think you will be amazed at how good you can feel.
For more blog posts about aging, I have a new series of what to expect in each decade of life! You can now read more about:
More posts on each decade coming throughout May 2021!