Healthy Ageing and Growing Old Gracefully
Healthy ageing in retirement means looking after our physical and mental health the best we can. We hear a lot about living a healthy lifestyle, but how do we go about doing it?
We often hear that a healthy person is someone who:
- doesn’t smoke,
- drinks sensibly
- eat healthy foods
- exercises daily
- sleeps well at night
- meditates daily
- interacts with other people
- have short breaks/vacations
- helps others
- laughs and jokes
But is it easy? The answer is NO
Is it do-able? The answer is a definite YES
Quite understandably, some may be concerned that their pensions may not stretch far enough to allow them to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. This is a myth. You don’t need to be rich to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. However, you do need a bit of discipline and patience to follow your health plans. Your progress may not be as rapid as you would like but please be patient, persevere with your health plans and enjoy healthy ageing.
In order to enjoy healthy ageing, it’s important to maintain a good physical health.
- Daily exercise is essential to good health. Regular physical activity of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, can bring about major health benefits. Increasing levels of physical activity helps to reduce coronary heart disease and obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety. Even relatively small increases in physical activity can protect against chronic disease and improve quality of life.
If you find it difficult to exercise 30 minutes a day in one go, then break it up into 3 lots of ten minutes. You then focus the first 10 minutes on one part of the body, say the upper part (neck, shoulders, arms). The next 10 minutes of exercise can be done an hour or so later, and you can focus on the middle part of the body (chest, stomach, hip, back) And the final ten minutes can be done later and you can focus on the lower part of the body (thighs, knees, ankles, hamstring). Mobility is the key to healthy ageing.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It is recommended that taking 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per person per day will help to reduce the risk of some cancers, heart disease and many chronic conditions. Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Water helps to reduce weight and stops headaches and dizziness. Eat enough calories to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Limit your intake of sugary and salty foods.
- Sleep is essential for healthy ageing and the well-being of an individual. The benefits of a good night’s sleep extend beyond how well we’re able to function the following morning. A good night’s sleep keeps your heart healthy and lowers your stress hormone levels. It also helps to improve memory and control body weight by regulating the hormones that affect your appetite. With regular exercises and an active lifestyle you’ll find that sleep will come easily and naturally at night.
- Quit Smoking Now. We all know smoking is bad for our health. It increases the risk of developing serious disease and health problems. Diseases associated with smoking include cancer, diseases of the cardiovascular system, diseases of the respiratory system, gum disease, brittle bones, eye cataracts, stomach ulcers, erectile dysfunction, premature lines and wrinkles, and many more. Not only will your health improve when you quit smoking now, you’ll also be saving yourself a lot of money which you can use for your vacations.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol causes alcohol related diseases (particularly liver disease) and can be fatal. Drink sensibly during celebrations and avoid having a massive hangover the following day. You can also save yourself a lot of money by reducing your alcohol consumption. Get help and advice on Alcohol treatment
- Obesity affects the enjoyment of healthy ageing. Many factors such as ethnicity, genetics, lifestyle, and personal habits should be considered in the management of obesity. Obesity, if not properly managed, can lead to a lot of health problems that may later evolve into life threatening diseases. A daily exercise and healthy diet routine will help. Make an appointment to see your doctor before you embark on a diet plan
- Live a healthy ageing lifestyle and give yourself a lovely short break away from the daily routines. A new environment, seeing new things, trying out exotic foods, meeting new people, etc, will give your morale a big boost. An occasional change in your environment can help you pick up new ideas and broaden your outlook.
A good mental health is also essential for the enjoyment of healthy ageing.
- Daily meditation helps to calm the mind and reduces the stress level. It decreases your respiratory rate and leads to a deeper level of relaxation. Panic attacks are less likely to happen as meditation lowers the level of blood lactate. Due to a reduction in stress level when practising meditation, it’s a healthy ageing way of ironing out some facial wrinkles.
- We often hear that “laughter is the best medicine” and it’s true. Share a joke with your family and friends and have a good laugh. Laughing lowers blood pressure and reduces stress hormones. It dissolves tension, anxiety, anger, grief and depression by triggering the release of endorphins. Laughter builds relationship and helps to overcome loneliness.
- Helping others in need will help us forget our own problems. When we see others having bigger problems than ours, we tend to be thankful for having our “little” problems. By helping others, it gives us the confidence to tackle our own “little” problems.
- Daily workout of the brain helps it to stay sharp. After reading your daily newspaper, try the cross-word puzzle or sudoku sections.
- Go on the internet and play online games and quizzes. Play memory games online to improve memory.
Playing darts or snooker with your friends will help with mental arithmetic.
Other useful mental games include mahjong, chess and bridge.
Keeping your mind stimulated on a daily basis will help to enhance your healthy ageing.
If you have a health insurance, it is advisable to review its adequacy on a regular basis.
Make an appointment with your doctor for an annual medical check-up. A clean bill of health is good news. If not, at least the health problem is detected early enough for some medical treatment to be administered. Keeping your body and mind healthy will ensure that you enjoy healthy ageing in retirement.