The American population is aging, with 10,000 people turning 65 every day. And as it ages, scientists are looking for ways to keep those seniors happy and healthy. Here are 4 research-based tips for living into a healthy old age.
- Go Mediterranean. No, you don’t have to leave home. Just eat as if you had! Try the “Mediterranean diet” least for one meal a day, preferably dinner. If you want to live longer and protect yourself against age-related diseases, you should cut down on processed foods, and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, healthy oils such as olive oil, and the choice of fish and poultry over red meat, has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s. There are many cookbooks available to teach you this healthy and delicious style of eating.
- Take a hike. Or at least a walk. Research shows that getting thirty minutes of exercise a day boosts health. Benefits include weight control, bone and muscle strength, healthier sleep, and better mood. Regular exercise is also associated with reduced incidence of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
If thirty minutes is too long, break it up. Just ten minutes of movement, three times a day, is just as good.
- Look at the bright side of life. Research shows that positive thinking helps people live longer, healthier lives. A popular way to focus on the positive is to keep a gratitude journal. You can buy a fancy journal with inspiring quotes or just use a composition notebook you have lying around the house, the result is the same. The very habit of writing down the things in your life that you are thankful for has been shown to improve your happiness — and your health.
- Reach out. Studies show that loneliness, the feeling of being isolated or of not belonging, is associated with an increased risk of illness, and even death. Family support can help alleviate loneliness, but one of the best ways for a senior to avoid feeling socially isolated is to find a group that shares a common interest. It can be physical or intellectual, whatever the interest, from discussing current events to knitting, doing it in a group provides regular social interaction, which promotes both physical and emotional health.
If you know a senior who is having trouble, try to find a way to make a positive change in these four crucial areas.
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.