Are you what writers would describe as someone “of a certain age?” When did adding more loops around the sun to your belt become a cause for dismay? It should be one for celebration — you’re a survivor, baby, yeah.
That said, you probably don’t look forward to increased aches, pains and worries. How can you get ahead of Father Time? Here are six things you need to know about aging gracefully to make the most of every year.
It’s not fair, but age is the single biggest factor influencing whether or not you’ll get cancer. Risks jump after age 50, and half of all cases occur in those over age 65.
Therefore, you need to stay up to date with screenings. You should start scheduling annual mammograms and colonoscopies to rule out breast and colon cancer risks. Your doctor can check many other things through routine blood tests, so please keep your annual physical.
Unfortunately, the Big C isn’t the only risk to worry about. Just about every adult occasionally forgets a name or misses an appointment. However, if you start noticing signs like getting lost on the way home from familiar destinations or the inability to recall common information, like your pastor’s name, it could indicate dementia.
Your ability to heal from minor injuries also decreases as you age. That’s because the number of growth factors and stem cells in your body depletes. Diabetes also impairs your body’s ability to heal itself, and circulation troubles slow the flow of blood, nutrients and vital oxygen to your extremities.
The bottom line? If you do get hurt, give yourself the recovery time you need to avoid further injury. Take your calcium and vitamin D and keep physically active to protect against brittle bones that easily break. Also, make your annual doctor’s visits for bloodwork and other health screenings.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, anywhere between 4.7 and 7.2 older Americans live in poverty. Insufficient resources mean having to choose among food, rent and needed medications. Unfortunately, there’s no age limit on realities like homelessness.
Therefore, if you want to make the most of your golden years, you need to keep socking money away toward your retirement. Book an annual appointment with your financial adviser to review your investments and protect your cash flow.
You’re never too old to consider fun ways to earn extra income. If you need the money and a way to fill your time, why not start an Esty shop with your knitting creations? If you ran a successful business before, why not dedicate a few hours weekly to consulting with up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help them reach their goals?
Like it or not, you can’t trade in your body for a new model when this one wears out. Like a luxury vehicle fed a steady diet of high-octane fuel, you need to maintain it.
There are endless ways to move your body, but the best programs combine strength-training, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. If you are time-crunched, programs like HIIT combine strength and cardio for a short, intense workout. Many yoga styles, like energetic ashtanga and vinyasa classes, get your heart pumping while keeping your muscles, ligaments and tendons pliable.
You can find millions of diets promising astounding results, but experts agree on a few food rules. Stay away from processed meals high in sugar, salt and additives. Stick to those in close to their natural form and reduce your meat consumption to a few times weekly.
Did you know that 43% of older adults report suffering from loneliness? This problem extends further than feeling left out of activities — it can increase your risk of death from all causes.
Cultivate a positive social circle. You can use apps like Meetup and Nextdoor to find interested groups in your community. You can also sign up for volunteer opportunities to meet others who share your values.
Humans are more than mind and body. If you believe we also have a soul, you need to nurture your spirit.
This advice doesn’t necessarily mean attending worship services, although many churches have moved their Sunday offerings online during the pandemic. This shift made them more accessible if you have a disability, but you have other options. Spending just five minutes each day in mindfulness meditation can help you realize your blessings.
While you don’t want to let a midlife crisis take you off the rails, there is a reason behind that nagging sense of urgency. The older you get, the more you realize that you don’t have unlimited time to do everything you dream about.
Now is the time to stop letting fear hold you back. Have you always wanted to jet off to Paris? If your fear of solo foreign travel restrains you, seek a tour group and meet new friends while living the dream. You’re either going to jump out of a plane or not — but you can always try the indoor version, too.
Everyone gets older, but not everybody manages to do so with style. Now that you’re in the know about these six factors, you, too, can age gracefully.