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September is Healthy Aging Month! Here are 10 Ways to Feel Better as You Age

Aging is a natural part of life that starts the day we’re born and lasts throughout your life. The only reason people don’t think about it until they hit middle age is because that’s when you start to feel it. However, aging doesn’t have to be a painful, unpleasant experience. In fact, there are many seniors who stay happy and active well into their eighties and beyond. How do they do it? Well, it starts with the belief that it can be done, which happens to be our first tip.

  1. Drop any negative attitudes you have about aging. For some people, this is a difficult challenge. Our society tends to devalue people as they age, especially what we see constantly on TV and in the movies. Don’t buy into it. While you may be a step slower than you were in your thirties and forties, you have acquired a lifetime of experience and wisdom, which can help you find plenty of fulfilling and enjoyable activities.
  2. Be positive, and be open about it. When people hear about having positive attitudes, they usually think about what goes on in their minds. And that’s important. Managing the internal monologue in your mind so that it’s focused on positive thoughts can make a huge difference in your happiness. That said, if you also project your positive attitude to other people, you’ll find that they will reinforce it in turn. So work on your posture. Stand up straight with your chest out and your chin up and smile. Let the world know how happy you are.
  3. Eat healthy foods. Part of feeling good is taking care of your body, and one way to do that is to eat the right foods and avoid the ones that aren’t good for you. If you start to notice symptoms of inadequate nutrition, make some changes to your diet. Limiting the amount of processed foods you eat and replacing them with fresh vegetables and fruits is a good start. Protein and iron are important as you age, so lean meat is good in moderation. Also, because too much sodium can cause or aggravate hypertension, keep it in check by avoiding salty foods and not adding table salt.
  4. Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleeping is one of the healthiest things you can do. In fact, it’s a common myth that you need less sleep as you get older. While you may not need to sleep as much as your teenage grandkids, it’s still important to get between seven and nine hours a night. That’s when your body, including your brain, repairs itself from the day’s activities, helping you maintain cognitive function and staving off health problems often associated with aging.
  5. Be as active as you can… comfortably. Too often, people think that fitness means joining a health club and lifting weights. Not true. Simply walking is a great way to improve and maintain your health as you age and it’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy your neighborhood, a nearby nature trail or a local park. If it’s been a while since you were that active, start small by walking around your block at a leisurely pace.
  6. Keep your brain in good shape. Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, so don’t be alarmed if you find you have more trouble remembering names than you used to. The good news is that there are several ways you can slow down the process, like learning how to play an instrument, learning a new language and volunteering in the community. You can also travel to places you’ve never been before and explore the culture and history. Find the artist inside you and try painting, photography or writing poetry.
  7. Focus on relationships with family and friends. Studies have shown that loneliness and isolation is actually harmful to your health, especially as you age. However, it also takes a little more effort to maintain your relationships if you’re retired. Get involved with people through your church or a community organization in your area. You can also volunteer with a charitable organization by visiting the AARP’s website.
  8. See your doctor regularly. Make sure you get your physical every year and see your doctor regularly. Many seniors take multiple prescriptions so it’s important for your doctor to be able to monitor your health and maintain the proper dosage. You also want to make sure that any health issues that come up are caught early so you can get the right treatment is quickly as possible.
  9. Stop worrying so much. Stress can negatively impact your physical health, as well as the emotional toll it takes on you. Try to focus on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t, including the actions of other people. You can also eliminate one of the major sources of stress by taking care of your money. Stick to a budget and spend money with purpose, making sure you receive value and long-term happiness in return for what you spend. If your religious faith is an important part of your life, lean on your church community and your faith to find a sense of peace.
  10. Never act your (chronological) age. Too often as we age, we limit ourselves to activities we believe to be appropriate for our chronological age. Why would we do that? Just because you remember what it was like before there were computers, much less the Internet, that doesn’t mean you can’t start your own website or blog. Or, take a free online class in something you’ve always wished you had learned, like literature, philosophy or auto mechanics. It’s a lot of fun and it good for your brain’s health.

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