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Here are four facts about health: (1) Human beings age, and as we do, inevitable changes take place in our bodies; (2) Some of these changes are out of our control. They are simply part of being human. (3) On the other hand, we do have the power to slow down or even prevent some of the diseases and changes in how we look and feel. (4) The more we understand about our own bodies and what they need, the better able we will be to live long and healthy lives.
Technically, healthy aging is being free of disease, functioning at a high physical and cognitive level, and being socially engaged and productive. Although aging is an irreversible process, there are myriad things you can do to keep your mind and body in good working order through all phases of your life. No matter how old you are or what your physical condition is if you want to change, start where you are right now.
- First and foremost, take care of yourself. Self-care includes doing whatever you can to minimize your stress and stay positive. Stress and negativity play havoc with our immune systems and are linked to many serious medical conditions.
- Do the basics: Stay away from junk food; eat fruits, vegetables, and protein; drink plenty of water, and get adequate sleep. If you don’t need as much sleep as you did when you were younger, that’s normal.
- Do whatever you can to help others, even if it’s just a phone call to say hi.
- Stay in touch with people. Solitude is lovely, but isolation can be lonely. If you are computer literate, you can communicate with friends and family on social media, Facetime, Skype, or Zoom.
- Feed your creative side. Dust off your paints or gel pens and create art; lose yourself in sewing or knitting; practice piano; plant a garden; keep a journal or write letters to the editor or to your senators and representatives. If you have always wanted to write a book, this would be a perfect time to start.
We are starting our third year of Covid-19. Unless you are a centenarian who survived the 1918 flu, this pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Older people, who may need assistance with many of the tasks of daily living, are profoundly affected by this pandemic.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 is not the only potential threat to your health. Before this pandemic captured the world’s attention, you were probably aware of some of the chronic conditions that plague older people, such as arthritis, cancer, respiratory illnesses, and heart disease, the leading killer of older adults.
You can’t do anything about your heredity, but you can do a great deal about your lifestyle. The five suggestions I just mentioned will help you achieve healthy aging.