Strong Aging: How To Hold On To Your Independence Longer
Whether you're an optimist or a pessimist, aging with strength and maintaining your independence may become challenging. However, there are many ways in which you can improve your odds of aging with more control over your own destiny. The keys are awareness and action: know what you're up against and how to defend yourself.
What Threatens Your Independence As You Age?
- Sarcopenia: The natural occurrence of losing muscle mass as you get older.
- Heart disease: Across race, gender, economics and geography, heart disease is the number one cause of death in America.
- Diabetes: This often debilitating condition increases in likelihood as you age, gain weight or according to genetic history.
- Arthritic conditions: From ordinary aches and pains to osteoporosis and other degenerative afflictions, movement becomes increasingly difficult.
- Depression: Unfortunately, depression is not uncommon in the elderly; although, it can strike at any age. Being older and perhaps alone or having lost loved ones and mobility, however, depression can hit hard.
- Injury: Simple falls become more problematic to an aging body.
Who Helps You When You're Temporarily Down And Out?
- Nursing homes: Contrary to popular myth, nursing homes aren't always a "forever" home. Since they employ highly skilled professionals who are well versed in all kinds of therapeutic recovery, they do a lot of work to help get people out of their facilities and back home.
- Personal care attendants: Depending on your needs, a professional home care attendant could assist you physically, prepare meals, clean your home or drive you places. Personal attendants vary in skills, medical training and costs.
- Your family: Who better than your own family to help you get back on your feet, in the event of an illness, injury or surgery? Hopefully, you have a close working relationship with the members of your family and can turn to them for assistance.
- Yourself: The importance of advocating for yourself cannot be overstated: You need to speak up to your doctors, insurance company, family members and even community-based organizations. When you need help, you deserve help, it's as simple as that. Investigate your rights and the responsibilities of your health care provider and make sure your needs are met.
How Can You Be Stronger As You Age?
- Resistance Training: Using resistance to foster strength, you can increase joint flexibility and rebuild muscle mass.
- Cardio for heart health: The simple act of walking can keep your heart healthier. Depending on the level of intensity of your exercise, you should exercise every day or a few times a week, targeting your heart rate.
- Cholesterol and triglyceride awareness: Managing weight, along with limiting your saturated fat intake, can significantly improve your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, both of which are important to heart health and diabetes prevention.
- Diabetes prevention: By opting for whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and Omega-3-rich foods, along with increasing your water intake, you can improve your statistical chances with diabetes.
- Stress reduction: Stress is toxic at any age, both physically and mentally. Finding beneficial ways to counteract stress will increase health and happiness. For example, taking a walk when you feel overwhelmed by stress or meditating to your favorite music. Replace the negative with a positive.
- A satisfying social life: Scientific studies indicate the value of a healthy social life, particularly as you age. While it isn't necessary to throw parties every night or have your phone ringing off the hook, if you are surrounded by fun, trusted people, you'll be stronger in mind and body.
Being more aware of what your body goes through as you age should motivate you to take action about it. The stronger and healthier you are, the longer you'll have independent living and hopefully, the more happy you will be.
16 September 2015