It’s important to take care of your mind and body, regardless of your age. That said, as we get older, something simple such as a cold or the seasonal flu could lead to unbearable complications. This is why it’s important to practice healthy habits especially as we get older. The good news is, it’s never too late to start!
If you want to live longer and take care of your health, begin by accessing your current habits. What habits should you stop and what should you start? Follow along as we dive into 10 things seniors should stop doing to help save their health!
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Sleep plays a vital role in repairing your body and getting you ready for another day. There are other health benefits too such as helping prevent excess weight gain and warding off harmful diseases such as heart disease.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults need about 7 to 9-hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting enough sleep then it’s time to reassess your daily and nightly habits. Check out these sleeping tips for seniors!
Stressing and Worrying Too Much
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health and is something you really need to get under control. Stress can weaken your immune system, it can promote diseases, and it can make it harder to control your emotions.
If you find yourself constantly stressed or worried it’s time to put a stop to it. To help reduce stress try your best to follow a routine. This way you’ll be guided through your day. You may also find it helpful to set goals (small and big) and focus on one task at a time. For more ideas, check out these tips on how to reduce stress in your life!
If you’re still smoking it’s really time to stop. While you might be wondering if it’s even worth it now that you’re in your senior years, the answer is yes! In fact, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) states, “It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking, quitting smoking at any time improves your health.”
Not only will you save money when you quit smoking but you will be doing your health a favor too. Some benefits include having more energy, breathing more easily, improving your sense of taste and smell, and improving your blood circulation. Quitting smoking will also help lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, lung disease, and cancer.
If you’re ready to quit smoking, speak with your doctor. You might also find it helpful to attend a counseling group or find an accountability partner. The most important step is to start and if you slip up, just try again!
Sit Less, Move More
Do you find yourself sitting down for the majority of the day? It’s time to stop sitting so much and start moving your body more. There are plenty of benefits of regular exercise for seniors. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.”
Not only can exercise help ward off health problems that naturally occur with age but it helps maintain and grow muscles and allows one to stay independent for longer. You should aim to get at least 150 minutes (or five 30-minute workouts) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Consider joining a gym, going for a daily walk, or trying at-home workouts.
Further, when watching TV, you can use commercial breaks to get up and stretch your legs whether you jog (or walk) in place or walk around your house. Get creative and keep your body moving!
Stop Thinking Negatively
If you’re holding a grudge or thinking negatively often, then it’s really time to put a stop to it. Thinking negatively can actually impact your mental and physical health. Healthline explains, “…repetitive negative thinking is linked to cognitive decline, a higher number of harmful protein deposits in the brain, and consequently a greater risk of dementia.”
Further, the stress hormone, cortisol, increases when you feel stressed and angry. High levels of cortisol can negatively affect your heart, metabolism, and immune system. To avoid negative thinking you can try practicing meditation, journaling, practicing mindfulness, or speak to a therapist. For more ideas check out these six ways to become an optimist!
Stop Avoiding Social Interactions
Do you try to avoid social gatherings and interactions at all costs? It might be time to put a stop to it. Social isolation can negatively affect your physical health and mental well-being.
Social isolation can even put you at a higher risk for cognitive decline, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and more. To prevent isolation, try your best to stay connected with friends and family. You might even need to schedule recurring dates on the calendar. You can also connect with like-minded people by joining a club such as a book club, chess club, or any other hobbies you enjoy.
Stop Eating an Unhealthy Diet
Along with getting adequate exercise and good sleep, eating a healthy diet is of the utmost importance especially as we age. Eating a healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight, keep you energized, and will provide your body with the nutrients it needs. All of this plays a role in warding off chronic health conditions.
With this in mind, it’s time to reassess your eating habits. If you’re eating mostly processed foods or foods that don’t offer any nutritional value it’s time to stop it! To fuel your body with the nutrients it needs, consume foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, as well as other nutrients. Check out these everyday foods all seniors should be eating!
Stop Ignoring Oral Hygiene
Did you know that your oral health plays an important role in your overall health? Mayo Clinic explains, “… your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.”
If you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, the bacteria can get so out of hand that it can lead to oral infections such as gum disease and tooth decay. To prevent this from happening, make sure you practice daily brushing and flossing. You also need to keep up with your oral exams and have your teeth checked regularly by a dentist.
Stop Avoiding the Doctor
Just like avoiding oral care, you must stop avoiding your doctor appointments. Keeping up with regular screenings is the best way to prevent diseases and to take action (if needed) as soon as possible.
During your checkup, your doctor will be able to assess your health to determine whether there is anything you can improve, concerns that need medical attention, determine if you’re up to date on vaccines and if you are in good health. Check out these important screenings every senior should get!
Stop Relying on Genetics
Whether you have good or bad genetics, you shouldn’t rely heavily on them. This is because environmental and lifestyle factors play a large role too. Factors such as your diet, how much exercise you get, your stress levels, social relationships, and more will all play a role in how fast you age.
If you want to live longer, some of the best things you can do for your health are to stay active, eat healthily, get plenty of rest, stay socially active, monitor your stress levels, and keep up with your medical screenings.