What You Can Do Right Now to Age Well

Published: December 6, 2021

What You Can Do Right Now to Age Well

Growing older comes with both rewards – like living at Quail Run! – and challenges. We may look forward to retirement, a day with no responsibilities, and the freedom to pursue delayed passions. But the physical and mental changes that aging can bring often offset the dreams a carefree life. Like any challenge, planning ahead and taking action now can help ensure your health and wellness as you age.

Get up! Get out! Keep moving!                        

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep the physical effects of aging at bay. Even when started late in life, exercise can lower your risk for a host of maladies, including chronic disease, physical disability and memory loss. The good news is that staying fit doesn’t mean becoming married to the gym or hours of strenuous workouts. Studies show that as little as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (which can be as simple as a morning walk) three times a week may reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 60%. If you can increase that to 150 minutes per week (30 minutes a day, five days a week), even better!

Pay attention to nutrition

Eating well also plays an important role in how well we age. Numerous studies have shown that eating well – which includes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like avocados and olive oil and healthy proteins found in salmon, eggs, and nuts – can prolong your life and lower your risk for disease. Eating well also means avoiding foods that can be detrimental to health, such as trans fats, highly processed foods, and sugar.

Stay socially active

Human connection is essential for a healthy life.  An article from the American Psychological Association reports, “lack of social connection heightens health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having alcohol use disorder… [L]oneliness and social isolation are twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity.” So, invite your neighbor over for coffee. Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Stop and chat with the people you meet while walking your dog.

Save your money

As Americans, we continue to live longer than previous generations. As such, we need more money to ensure we can live comfortably throughout a retirement that may be several years longer than our parents’. Start saving early. If you’re already near retirement age, talk to a financial planner about ways you can still optimize your cash flow during retirement.

Document your medical wishes

As we get older, our ability to make decisions may become diminished, or an accident or illness might render us incapable of voicing our desires regarding healthcare. That’s why it pays to plan ahead. An advance directive, or “living will,” makes your wishes known to loved ones and healthcare providers by specifying what kind of medical treatment you would want – and what measures you don’t want taken – in the event you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. You should also appoint someone you trust as a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Keep a positive attitude

Illness, chronic pain and disease don’t have to be a part of growing older. By staying focused on the positive aspects of aging, you’ll help reframe your thoughts about growing older. Doing so can have major health benefits.