September is Healthy Aging Month which is an annual health observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of growing older. Now in its second decade, this program provides inspiration and practical ideas for adults, ages 45-plus, to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being. This blog focuses on healthy aging utilizing information obtained from September Is Healthy Aging® Month and Healthy Aging.
Why Healthy Aging Month?
Carolyn Worthington, editor-in-chief of Healthy Aging® Magazine and executive director of Healthy Aging®, is the creator of September is Healthy Aging® Month. According to Worthington, “We saw a need to draw attention to the myths of aging, to shout out ‘Hey, it’s not too late to take control of your health, it’s never too late to get started on something new.’ Why not think about the positive aspects of aging instead of the stereotypes and the negative aspects?”
September is a perfect time to celebrate Healthy Aging Month since it is time when many people think about getting started on new tasks after the summer. Drawing on the “back to school” urge embedded in everyone from childhood, the observance month’s activities are designed to encourage people to rejuvenate and get going on positive measures that can impact the areas of physical, social, financial and mental wellness.
September is Healthy Aging® Month was first introduced when the baby boomers were about to turn 50. “We recognized early on that careful attention to the combination of physical, social, mental and financial fitness was powerful in the pursuit of a positive lifestyle and have built our Healthy Aging® programs around that concept.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle from MedlinePlus
People in the U.S. are living longer, and the number of older adults in the population is growing. As we age, our minds and bodies change. Having a healthy lifestyle can help you deal with those changes. It may also prevent some health problems and help you to make the most of your life.
A healthy lifestyle for older adults includes
- Healthy eating. As you age, your dietary needs may change. You may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. A healthy eating plan includes
- Eating foods that give you lots of nutrients without a lot of extra calories. This includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts, and seeds.
- Avoiding empty calories, such as foods like chips, candy, baked goods, soda, and alcohol
- Eating foods that are low in cholesterol and fat
- Drinking enough liquids, so you don’t get dehydrated
- Regular physical activity. Being physically active may help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic health problems. If you have not been active, you can start slowly and work up to your goal. How much exercise you need depends on your age and health. Check with your health care provider on what is right for you.
- Staying at a healthy weight. Being either overweight or underweight can lead to health problems. Ask your health care professional what a healthy weight for you may be. Healthy eating and exercise can help you get to that weight.
- Keeping your mind active. Lots of activities can keep your mind active and improve your memory, including learning new skills, reading, and playing games.
- Making your mental health a priority. Work on improving your mental health, for example by practicing mediation, relaxation techniques, or gratitude. Know the warning signs of a problem and ask for help if you are struggling.
- Participating in activities that you enjoy. People who are involved in hobbies and social and leisure activities may be at lower risk for some health problems. Doing things that you enjoy may help you feel happier and improve your thinking abilities.
- Playing an active role in your health care. Make sure that you get regular checkups and the health screenings that you need. You should know which medicines you are taking, why you need them, and how to take them properly.
- Not smoking. If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the most important things that you can do for your health. It can lower your risk of several different types of cancer, certain lung diseases, and heart disease.
- Taking steps to prevent falls. Older adults have a higher risk of falling. They are also more likely to fracture (break) a bone when they fall. Getting regular eye checkups, getting regular physical activity, and making your house safer can lower your risk of falling.
Following these tips can help you to stay healthy as you age. Even if you have never done them before, it’s never too late to start taking care of your health. If you have questions about these lifestyle changes or need help figuring out how to make them, ask your health care provider.
10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself from Healthy Aging® Magazine
- Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like. What was your best year so far? 28? 40? Now? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but we say it’s positive thinking and goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself. (Tip: Don’t keep looking in the mirror, just FEEL IT!)
- Be positive in your conversations and your actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive. (Tip: Stop watching the police reports on the local news).
- Have negative friends who complain all of the time and constantly talk about how awful everything is? Drop them. As cruel as that may sound, distance yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life. They will only depress you and stop you from moving forward. Surround yourself with energetic, happy, positive people of all ages and you will be happier too. (Tip: Smile often. It’s contagious and wards off naysayers.)
- Walk like a vibrant, healthy person. Come on. You can probably do it. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling? (Tip: Make a conscious effort to take big strides, walk with your heel first, and wear comfortable shoes.)
- Stand up straight! You can knock off the appearance of a few extra years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you holding your stomach in, have your shoulders back, chin up? Check out how much better your neck looks! Fix your stance and practice it every day, all day until it is natural. You will look great and feel better. (Tip: Your waistline will look trimmer if you follow this advice.)
- How’s your smile? Research shows people who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your good health as the rest of your body. Not only is it the first thing people notice, but good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being. (Tip: Go to the dentist regularly and look into teeth whitening. Nothing says old more than yellowing teeth!)
- Lonely? Stop brooding and complaining about having no friends or family. Do something about it now. Right this minute. Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following: Volunteer your time, Take a class, Invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee. (Tip: Volunteer at the local public school to stay in touch with younger people and to keep current on trends, take a computer class or a tutorial session at your cell phone store to keep up with technology, choose a new person every week for your dining out.)
- Start walking not only for your health but to see the neighbors. Have a dog? You’ll be amazed how the dog can be a conversation starter. (Tip: If you don’t have time for a dog, go to your local animal shelter and volunteer. You will be thrilled by the puppy love!)
- Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings. Go to the appointments and then, hopefully, you can stop worrying about ailments for a while.
- Find your inner artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young school children? You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped. Have you always wanted to play the piano, violin, or tuba? Have you ever wondered if you could paint a portrait or scenic in oil? What about working in wood? (Tip: Sign up now for fall art or music classes and discover your inner artist!)