According to AARP, you’re a senior when you hit 50. But just like 50 is only a number, being a senior is nothing but a state of mind. If it means a department store discount or a cheaper hotel room, count me in. If it means “acting old,” forget it!
My mother-in-law golfed until she was 89 – with a group of women half her age. My dad volunteered at an adult day care for seniors until he was 90. And many of the attendees were far younger than he. It just goes to show, you really are as young as you feel.
Some seniors have chronic conditions or are living with pain through no fault of their own. We’re not trying to say that thinking young will make all the pain go away. It won’t. But taking care of yourself and catching health concerns early may help. And studies have shown that staying active – both physically and mentally – can have a profound effect on how you feel.
So where do you begin? Well, the earlier the better, but it’s never too late. Here are some ideas to get you off to a good start toward staying healthy.
Have an annual physical — Many health issues can be cured or controlled when caught early. Get a bone density test, a blood test for blood sugar and cholesterol, and have your blood pressure checked. Women should have a yearly mammogram and men should have a PSA test for prostate cancer. See a dermatologist to check for any pre-cancerous skin conditions. And yes, have that colonoscopy. It might not sound like fun but colon cancer is easily cured if found early; by the time symptoms show up, it might be too late.
Take your medicine – There are some people who just don’t like to take medicine. For some, it’s the idea of putting a chemical into the body. Others don’t like the taste or have trouble swallowing large pills. For many seniors, the cost is prohibitive. But if your doctor prescribes a medicine, discuss the reason. What will it do? Why will it help? What are the possible side effects? If you both agree it’s for the best, take it as prescribed. Don’t take it occasionally or stop for a month when you run out. Medicines will only work the way they’re supposed to if they’re taken the way they’re intended. Pay attention to the pharmacist’s instructions, such as whether to take with food or on an empty stomach. And be sure to ask about drug interactions.
Remember, staff at assisted living communities can help residents by monitoring and dispensing the appropriate dose at the right time. If you live in Fort Myers or Naples Florida, another option is Discovery Village’s Supervised Independent Living. It’s the perfect bridge between independent living and assisted living. You can be as independent as you like, but help is available if you need it – and that includes someone to help you with meds as well as a second pair of eyes and ears to help determine if those meds are doing their job or if you need to speak with your doctor.
Keep up your exercise – Health clubs are full of young people in spandex – but seniors are starting to realize the importance of exercise as well. Some gyms have discounts for seniors and some insurance companies reward their customers with a rebate check if they exercise a certain number of times over the course of a year. Many senior centers or senior living communities such as Discovery Village offer exercise classes designed for seniors – right there where you live. Do what you can – and whatever will keep you interested. Aerobic exercise is good for your heart and will help to burn fat. Weight training is great for toning muscle and maintaining bone health. Even walking outside or at the mall counts! Just keep moving.
Go green – We mean your food! Eating well is one of the best ways to stay healthy and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diets is a great way to start. It’s not a bad idea to take a multi-vitamin, but most doctors agree and that it’s even better when those vitamins and minerals come right from the food you eat. If five servings of fruits and veggies sounds like a lot, start small. Eat a second veggie or have an apple for your snack instead of a cookie. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of pizza or scoop of ice cream, but do it in moderation. Protein, dairy, carbs and even fats all play important parts in our diets. Just keep it balanced and you’ll be fine.
Get a good night’s sleep – Sleeping is a way for our body to recharge and refresh. It keeps us energized. Sleep results in an increased focus and sharper reflexes. And here’s a bonus – recent studies have shown that people who get enough sleep are more apt to lose weight than those that skimp of their zzzz’s.
Stay active – This can mean a lot of things – from exercising to socializing. But either way, research shows that seniors that stay the most active also stay the healthiest. Friends help you stay motivated, they help to get your mind off your troubles – health or otherwise. They’re an outlet for sharing both joy and sorrow. And they make us laugh. So whether it’s a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a walk in the park, get going – and take a friend.
Play mind games – Brain exercises have been shown to keep our minds healthy. Do a crossword puzzle, word search or Sudoku daily to keep those brain cells healthy. If you do notice some memory issues cropping up, however, talk to your doctor. It could be stress or a physical condition affecting your memory. If it is Alzheimer’s, early detection and medications that help slow the progression.
Enjoy life! Staying healthy might involve a little work or adjustment to your daily routine, but it can also be rewarding. Make it fun. Play with a grandchild. Take a nature walk. Call a friend. Spend time with your spouse. Volunteer. Start a new hobby. Rediscover an old one. Read a good book or binge-watch a new show. Take a cooking class. Walk the dog.
If you’re thinking of moving to a senior living community, be sure to check out Discovery Village. These communities for seniors provide many of the “stay healthy” suggestions on this list. They offer residents everything from exercise classes to healthy dining to mentally stimulating games and activities. All that plus the chance to laugh and socialize with other active seniors.
Just because you use that senior discount doesn’t mean you have to feel old!
Discovery Village at Southlake offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 682.253.8966.