How to Care For Your Health as You Age

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Last year when I turned 50, I made a pact with myself to take better physical care of myself and to prioritize self-care (everything from skin care to clean eating). Aging is inevitable, and it's only natural that our bodies go through a process of wear and tear. While I can't stop that process, I can take steps to delay it.

I approach my health more in the context of going on vacation, in that I know I only have a limited amount of time to enjoy my trip, and as a result, I squeeze the most out of it. We often become complacent and live as if we are going to be around forever. Unfortunately, we aren't but you can extend your life span by staying in good health. My mantra is always "prevention is better than a cure."
But fitness and healthy eating habits are only part of taking care of yourself physically. There are common issues as we age, such as affordable hearing aids for hearing loss, even laser eye surgery for poor eyesight, and paying attention to dental health. 

1. Use It or Lose It
This is one of my yoga teachers' favorite expressions, and it couldn't be more true. You may have heard the term “use it or lose it” when it comes to other types of physical activity, yet age-related muscle deterioration is what I'm talking about. The challenge is that naturally, after a certain point in our late twenties or early thirties the body starts to get weaker.

Of course, you can prevent this, and many elder athletes defy the odds to show us what we are all capable of… meaning, muscle deterioration isn’t something that has to happen - it’s something that naturally happens, but you can delay it by continuing to build up your muscles. There's no need to start lifting weights like a professional body builder does. Light hand weights several times a week and consistent exercise is all it takes to keep your muscles in shape and your bones strong.

2. Take Time To Relax
Relaxation is one of the key components of taking care of your health, at any age, as stress is the most prominent underlying causes of many illnesses. The mind controls the body, and even if you don’t subscribe to that notion, it’s hard to avoid the fact that there is a significant link between both mind and body.

In simple terms, the more stressed you are the more susceptible you are to illness and disease, because stress suppresses your immune system making it easier for infections and illnesses to attack your system.

No two people are the same, and as such, I prefer to practice mindfulness meditations and yoga. For some people it can be as simple as fishing, reading, or even ironing. The point is, whatever helps you to relax - do it.

3. Nourish Your Brain
One of the greatest fears people have about getting older is that they might lose their mental sharpness. Again, this is a case of “use it or lose it” in the most part though there are certain foods you can eat to ensure optimum brain function - supplements such as ginkgo biloba and fish oil, for instance.

In addition to good nutrition, you want to ensure your brain is being stimulated often - and this is where brain training apps can be helpful, or perhaps learning something new such as a new language.

4. Don't Skip Routine Health Exams
Routine visits with your doctors is extremely important as we age. Early detection is the key to fighting and surviving diseases. By visiting your doctors regularly, you ensure that these tests are completed and any necessary treatment is performed.

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