Resources for Healthy Aging. You worked hard for decades, and now you get to retire. You have daydreamed about what you want to do during these hard-earned years. It would be tragic if you were too sick and frail to get to do those things, like play with the grandchildren, travel, enjoy your hobbies and other activities. We all want to be healthy, but it is easier to achieve that goal with a little help. The Department of Aging, a federal agency within Health and Human Services (HHS), provides information on resources for healthy aging.
The Eight Pillars of Health and Wellness for Older Adults
You do not have to tackle all eight of these factors on Day One. Getting stressed and overwhelmed will hurt your health, not help it. Work your way through this list at a comfortable pace. Make changes to your lifestyle that you can continue over the long haul. Resources for Healthy Aging. Consistent habits will give you the most significant benefit.
- Move around and exercise. It is a safe bet that the people who live into their nineties and triple digits did not spend their sixties and seventies as couch potatoes. Keep moving. Getting a little physical exercise every day is essential for long-term health. Choose low-impact activities, like walking and swimming, that have a low risk of injury. Be careful to avoid falls that can rob you of your mobility and independence.
- Stay involved. Loneliness is toxic to your physical and mental health. Find something in your community that brings you joy, whether it is a house of worship, animal shelter, or organized senior events at the local recreation department. Sign up and meet new people. Stay involved.
- Eat right. You know the adage, you are what you eat. You cannot have peak health, if you eat and drink highly processed foods and beverages with little nutritional value. Make sure that you include fresh fruits and vegetables into your routine every day. If you cannot get fresh, choose frozen over canned foods.
- Access benefits. Tap into all of the benefits and services you have earned over the years. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid can go a long way to keeping you and your wallet healthy. If you do not apply for and fight until you get all of the benefits for which you are eligible, you are leaving money on the table and draining money from your retirement savings. Too many people do not go after the income and services they qualify for, in the form of veteran benefits, state and county programs and non-profit agencies.
- Respect mental health issues. For too long, the topic of mental health carried a stigma. People did not talk about it. We now realize that mental health has a significant impact on your physical health and quality of life. Talk to your doctor about your mental health concerns.
- The little grey cells. Keep your brain healthy. Like everything else, you need to exercise your brain to keep it fit. Be a lifelong learner. Practice a healthy lifestyle. Read books and do word puzzles. Just do not let your brain be idle.
- Medical knowledge. If certain diseases run in your family, go to reputable websites like the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health to educate yourself on those conditions. You might be able to prevent a debilitating illness. If nothing else, you can learn how to manage a medical condition.
- Medication management. Have a frank talk with your doctor about all of your medications. If you have to take three drugs to handle the side effects from another prescription, your doctor should explore whether a different medication might be a better option. Make sure that your various prescriptions, supplements and natural remedies do not conflict with each other.
One additional piece of advice: be kind. Be kind to others and to yourself. Help people and they will reciprocate in kind. You will create a better community, that is worth living in during your golden years.
Health and Human Services. “Healthy Aging.” (accessed November 26, 2019) https://www.hhs.gov/aging/healthy-aging/index.html
Resources for Healthy Aging