According to the National Institute on Aging, 61% of Americans aged 65 or older have multiple chronic conditions. Aging is an inevitable part of life. There’s no avoiding it, but there are things we can do to age in a healthy manner. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, we are sharing some tips for focusing on healthy aging.
What is healthy aging?
There are several components to consider when thinking about healthy aging. There is the obvious one: physical health. But it is also important to focus on others like mental health, social health, and even financial health.
Exercise is one of the most important ways to care for your physical health. Scientific evidence suggests that people who exercise regularly not only live longer, but they also live better. Keeping your body moving by doing things like walking the dog or gardening can help you stay independent as you age. Practicing exercises that focus on your balance can help you to avoid falls, while stretching can improve flexibility which can help your body maintain the freedom to do everyday activities.
Making smart nutrition choices is also important in helping maintain physical health. As we age, our bodies change, and thus so do our nutritional needs. AARP’s MyPlate for Older Adults breaks down exactly what a balanced nutrition plan looks like for older adults. It includes fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, herbs and spices, fluids, grains, dairy, and protein.
Regular health screenings are also important for maintaining physical health. There are many debates about how often an older adult should see their doctor, but it’s common to hear a recommendation of at least once per year.
Another incredibly important part of our overall wellbeing – at any age – is mental health. When your mental health suffers, it can have a negative impact on your physical health, as well. Clinical psychologist Carla Manley, PhD says people with mental illnesses can experience a variety of physical symptoms, including muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, and feelings of restlessness.
So how can we take care of our mental health as we age? One way would be to participate in activities that bring you joy. Research shows that having a hobby is linked to lower levels of depression and may even prevent depression. Some examples of hobbies that are good for our mental health are playing music, gardening, fishing, yoga, and writing. Puzzles like word searches, crossword puzzles, or sudoku are great hobbies that help to keep our mind sharp.
Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to a higher risk of physical and mental conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, a weakened immune system, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Engaging in meaningful activity with others gives us a sense of purpose which ultimately leads to a boosted mood and longer life. We can focus on several aspects of our health at once by taking our hobbies and making them a group activity. This could be in the form of a gardening or book club or simply taking a walk with a friend.
With most of the focus being on our physical health as we age, we can’t forget the importance of our financial health. This can be a little trickier to manage, and with all the information that is available online, it is tough to determine what is reliable. Senior Finance Advisor put together a list of reliable resources that help with investment advice and financial protection resources.
They also recommend finding a trusted fiduciary planner who can help you manage your money. The law requires them to always act in your best interest, and they tend to be more transparent in discussions of financial opportunities.
Healthy, happy living
Remember, what we do today impacts tomorrow. It may feel overwhelming to think about changing bad habits or creating new healthy ones, but it’s the key to living a longer, healthier, happier life. Start small and remain consistent and dedicated to your goals. It will pay off!
National Wellness Month
Did you know August is National Wellness Month? Although we all know we should always try to make wellness a priority, at times we drop the ball. Unfortunately, sometimes focusing on wellness takes a back seat to everything else in our busy lives. This is what makes August the perfect opportunity to re-focus on our wellness and kick start a healthy lifestyle. Don’t know where to start? No worries, we’ve put together a list of five simple habits to incorporate into your routine each day!
Drink more water
Health experts often recommend we follow the 8×8 rule: eight 8-ounce glasses per day. Water is essential for the kidneys and other bodily functions. It provides a boost in energy and physical performance; curbs cravings, which aids in weight loss; and it also results in smoother, healthier skin.
How can you be sure you are getting enough water each day? There are a ton of fun water bottles out there that help you keep track of your water intake. Some, like this one, even have time stamps on them so you can be sure to stay on track throughout the day.
Get outside and exercise
It is no secret that exercise is good for you, but did you ever think about how the location of where you choose to work out can benefit you? Exercising outside has plenty of benefits! It gives you the chance to be physically active in a constantly changing environment. Walking on a treadmill or using another machine indoors can get redundant and boring. But when you get outside, you can go to different trails or parks for a change of scenery. Not to mention, the wind’s resistance can help you burn more calories.
In addition to the physical benefits, outdoor exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental health. There is quantifiable research that suggests that outdoor exercise can actually provide greater benefits than indoor exercise. This study found that exercising outdoors was associated with increased energy and decreased tension and depression. Not to mention the fact that you can make it a family affair by heading to a nearby park or bike trail!
Since there is an app for everything these days, it’s no surprise that there is an app you can use to find walking, hiking, and biking trails nearby. All Trails is a great way to find your next work out spot. It even allows you to filter by difficulty level and features like pet friendliness!
Eat healthy snacks
There is often the misconception that snacking will lead to weight gain. However, the right types of snacks can actually contribute to weight loss. The secret is to choose snacks with about 100 calories and a mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fats. So what are the benefits of adding a healthy snack to your day? Appetite control, increased energy, and better concentration can all be results of a healthy snack.
Here, you will find 30+ healthy snack ideas! Bon appétit!
Destress by practicing deep breathing
Every day, you already take thousands of breaths without even giving it a second thought. So why not take a few minutes to really focus on your breath? Deep breathing has numerous health benefits, including stress reduction and reduced blood pressure. It can even promote core muscle stability to help you tolerate intense exercise.
Struggling to calm your racing mind for bedtime? Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique! It forces your mind and body to focus on regulating your breath rather than all the worries of the day. The steps for this technique are:
Let your lips part and make a make a whooshing sound, exhaling completely through your mouth
Close your lips and inhale silently through your nose as you count to 4 in your head
Hold your breath for 7 seconds
Exhale from your mouth for 8 seconds, making another whooshing sound like in the first step
It is recommended that you start out by doing four cycles of these steps then eventually work your way up to eight full cycles.
This technique, and several others, are also available in the free Oak Meditation and Breathing app (available in the Apple app store).
Slow down and enjoy the little things
“Enjoy the little things.” It has become a bit of a cliché that we hear all the time. However, there is scientific evidence that enjoying the little things actually has health benefits. A 2012 study found that greater appreciation led to increased life satisfaction. Taking time to appreciate even the smallest pleasures of life can promote satisfaction even when things do not go as planned.
We often focus on the big events that we are looking forward to and rush through the small day to day things but stopping to focus on the joy in the little things can have a positive impact on our mental well-being. So how exactly do we do it?
This healthline article discusses eight ways to truly enjoy the little things, starting with waking up 15 minutes earlier in the morning. While you may feel groggy at first, it will allow you to take your time in the morning rather than feeling rushed. This might even mean actually sitting down at home to enjoy your morning coffee rather than sipping (and probably spilling) it in your car on the way to work.
So join us in celebrating National Wellness Month and take this opportunity to focus on your well-being. It’s time to make taking care of YOU a priority!During Healthy Aging Month, we focus on celebrating the many positive aspects of aging. Here are some tips to incorporate in your daily routine that can lead to a healthier lifestyle, allowing you to live your life to the fullest.
Exercise – Get moving and active on a daily basis!
Socialize – Stay in touch and find safe ways to connect with friends and loved ones!
Stay balanced – Try new methods such as yoga to reduce stress and improve your overall balance!
Rest – It’s important to make sure you are getting a good, quality rest each night.
These are important tips to keep in mind for all ages and stages of life. Not only this month, but from now on, remember to take care of yourself and those who surround you. Healthy aging starts with you and your health decisions.
We all know it can be difficult to maintain a healthy (or even healthy-ish) lifestyle, but here is one employee who believes: “Always focus on doing the right thing”.
Christal Ransom has been with Abode Hospice and Home Health in Colorado Springs since day one; she serves as Director of Public Relations and Community Liaison. Before joining the Abode team, Christal worked in outpatient orthopedics, sports medicine, and social work, where she found her passion for hospice.
Christal has deep roots in the sport Judo that instilled many values she holds true today in her career like “perseverance, work ethic, and integrity” and “wanting to be the best and have the best team” she says.
In 2000, Christal moved out to Colorado Springs to train at the Olympic Center. She also competed for the U.S. National team for 12 years. In 2008, she won the Olympic trials but unfortunately was unable to go to the Olympics because her weight division wasn’t qualified.
For the 2012 Olympics, “I trained to make the London team but was unable to qualify and got selected to attend the Olympics as a training partner” she says. After London in 2012, Christal retired and was elected to join the Board of Directors for U.S.A. Judo which she currently serves on today.
It’s easy to see how such an intense sport can really instill such values and characteristics that have carried over into Christal’s life today.
An average day for Christal is going to the gym every morning about 6:30 AM, “I usually begin taking calls there and I’m out and about driving around all day” she says. Among other things, “I work with patients, families, and facilities in order to help coordinate admissions and patient care”.
But for those who don’t have a complete background in Judo or any sport for that matter Christal has some sound advice for living a healthy lifestyle.
Christal Ransom – second from the left attending a last wish event!
Often our jobs are sometimes stressful, what might be the best way to combat that?
If your immune system is beat down and you are stressed the best thing you can do is to eat right and take care of your body so you can recover, so you aren’t sick for weeks.
On that note, what foods can you not live without?
Chicken. Chicken three times. Or chicken, coconut oil, and espresso. Coconut oil is also key!!
What might be the best advice to find the right eating and working out schedule?
My suggestion to people who do what we do would be to bring your lunch – meal prep that way you have healthy snacks. Since I am always on the go, I have a little icebox in my car that I pack my lunch in; chicken and avocado!
Other clean food like nuts or protein bars, healthy but quick to eat. That way when you have no time to stop and eat you at least have something healthy on the go that’s going to fuel your body. Oh and no smoking!!
Are you reading any interesting books, blogs, magazines that have health tips in it?
Nothing too particular or specific to health but I was reading about coconut oil – coconut oil helps boost your immune system.
Cold and flu season are around the corner, do you have any tips that might help to combat that?
Yes, I can be quite germ-a-phoab! Wash your hands, all too often we rely on hand sanitizer – you have got to wash your hands!
Also, don’t wear your shoes in the house, I feel like you track in a lot of dirt and nasty germs from the hospital or wherever in your home. Leave your shoes at the door!
A couple of other helpful tips are zinc and vitamin C – they also help boost your immune system. I’d say if you do not take supplements regularly, you should at least take something that is boosting your immune system during the flu season.
Lastly, wipe your phones down with antibacterial wipes. Our phones are considered one of our dirtiest possessions. People don’t realize but your phone is your nastiest piece of equipment – use antibacterial wipes!
For those of you always on the go, here are some helpful tips and advice from one of our own that can hopefully help you jump start and maintain your health! Wellness in all forms matter and taking the right small steps can make a huge difference in your day-to-day lifestyle.
Abode Hospice & Home Health supports that our patients have the right to determine their own goals of care during the final stages of their illness. We focus on comfort, support, quality of life, and education.