With the changes that occur as you age, it can be easy to think of growing older as a steady decline. While some changes are inevitable, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually ways to optimize your well-being. Here are some key tips and resources to help you enjoy the best possible health as you age.
Understand health care
Let’s face it: the health care system is notorious for being complicated, particularly when it comes to Medicare coverage. However, it’s important to comprehend Medicare so you can enjoy the benefits you’re entitled to receive. There are definitions for many of the challenging terms and explanations of how they apply to your health care. You might even want to bookmark the page to refer to when those odd words and phrases pop up!
Something to smile about
According to the Journal of Business, many seniors avoid dental visits because of the expense. Basic Medicare doesn’t cover it, yet dental health means more than keeping your mouth in good shape. Oral health appears to be closely linked with overall health, and can reflect issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy has also been associated with reducing your dementia risk. What’s more, poor mouth health can be embarrassing and painful.
If cost is a factor, look for affordable options. Sometimes, you can get coverage through programs like Medicare Advantage, and there are low-cost options worth exploring. Also ensure you make brushing and flossing part of your daily routine. Your smile will look great, your breath will taste fresh and you’ll be able to enjoy your meals without discomfort.
You are what you eat
Proper nutrition is important throughout life, but as we age, our needs change, so most of us benefit from altering our diets. Most seniors require fewer calories, and some people experience a reduced appetite because of a drop in sensitivity to taste and smell.
When designing your meals, it’s important to include nutrient-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and seeds and nuts. You should ensure your diet includes ample fiber to keep your digestion on track as well. Choosing a healthy diet has even shown some evidence in helping stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
When you feel like cooking, try some of these nutritious recipes from MyDiet. When opting for convenience foods, make healthier selections, such as instant oatmeal, bagged salads, low-sodium canned goods and ready-to-eat grilled chicken. Avoid processed foods such as white bread, hot dogs, deli meat and sugary drinks.
If eating simply isn’t as interesting as it used to be, you can also try cooking with herbs. To really spice things up, think about connecting with a friend or joining a dinner swap—it’s a fun way to remain socially active, and little makes a meal more interesting than sharing it!
Friends, family and community
Something that can fall by the wayside for adults of all ages is an active social life. We have kids, start building careers and life just gets in the way. Seniors often find themselves widowed with their kids moved away, and they sometimes become quite isolated.
Staying socially active is important to your well-being, though. In fact, some studies indicate it can bolster your sense of purpose, encourage better physical health and help to avoid mental health concerns such as depression. Socializing regularly can also help lower your risk for cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease.
With all that in mind, ensure you maintain your social life, even if it means you need to step out of your comfort zone. Do some volunteering, participate in a faith organization or join a club. There are plenty of options out there to fit virtually any interest, and you’re worth it!
Better health and happiness is attainable with a few simple steps. Get more comfortable with your health care, take care of your teeth, enjoy healthy foods and connect in your community. You’ll be able to maintain your spark and savor all life has to offer.