By Beverly Nelson
If you are an older adult, aging may be weighing heavily on your mind. But getting older doesn't have to take a toll on your health or happiness. Here are some simple secrets to help you stay healthy and strong for life:
Handle Your Health with Care
Your physical health can make the difference between a happy retirement or years filled with aches and pains. So taking care of your physical health should be your top priority. But how can you make sure you are getting all of the care you need? Medicare Advantage Plans (also known as Medicare Part C) can be beneficial tools for anyone looking to cover their healthcare expenses. In addition to providing the same coverage as Medicare Parts A and B, Medicare Advantage Plans provide supplemental benefits, including coverage for dental care, vision and prescription drugs. You can enroll in Medicare plans between October 15 and December 7 each year, so consider boosting your coverage so you don't have to stress over paying for care.
Keep Your Body Strong and Flexible
The leading cause of serious injury for seniors is balance. In fact, falls send millions of adults over the age of 65 to the emergency room each year. One of the best ways to protect yourself from falls is to commit to a regular fitness routine. The right exercises can help increase flexibility, keep you at a healthy weight and increase muscle mass in your body. In addition to preventing falls, exercise can boost energy, enhance cognition and help you fight off chronic disease. Research even suggests swimming is the best workout for older adults, so hit the pool for a few laps each week to keep your muscles strong.
Make Mental Health a Priority
You may already know that stress relief is a big part of mental health. Stress-related mental health issues are prevalent in this country, so if you are taking steps to reduce the stress in your life, you are already on the right path. But quality mental health is about more than just stress relief. If you suffer from any chronic mental health conditions such as depression or mood disorders, you should talk to your healthcare provider about better ways to manage your symptoms. Your provider may suggest counseling, medication or a combination of the two. You can also contribute to your mental health and enhance your brain by solving puzzles, playing games or even meditating.
Maintain Regular Social Connections
Sometimes we spend more time alone as we age. While some time on your own can be good, studies show social connection is essential for good physical and mental health. Those with strong social connections to family, friends and their community tend to live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Make it a point to meet up with friends and family members. If you need to make some new connections, you can even try getting into some local exercise classes, art courses or meetups. Social media can also be a wonderful way for seniors to feel more connected to old friends and their loved ones. Set up a Facebook page, and search for people you may know.
Help Those in Need in Your Community
Did you know President Jimmy Carter has lived longer after leaving office than any other American president? Better yet, he and his wife Rosalynn are famed for their active lifestyles and sharp minds, and they are in their mid-90s. Many researchers contribute the Carters' ability to thrive as they age to their extensive volunteer work. Volunteer work benefits seniors in special ways. Adults over the age of 40 who volunteer tend to have better overall well-being than those who do not, and there are physical health benefits, too. You can find volunteer opportunities in your community and stay sharp and connected just like President Carter.
Getting older doesn't have to slow you down. All you need are some healthy habits and a positive attitude to stay happy and strong, no matter your age.
Beverly Nelson is the creator of Stand Up For Caregivers, which aims to help protect and advocate for the health and well-being of adult caregivers.