Healthy Aging: Can You Slow Down the Process?
When your birthday rolls around, what do you do? Most people celebrate in some fashion. Life is certainly worth celebrating, and every year you’re alive is a gift.
But as you get older, do you still feel like celebrating? Are you reluctant about aging, or do you welcome it with open arms? One way to feel better about the aging process is to know what to expect and how to make the most of it through healthy aging habits. If you know the signs of aging, you can identify how to change your lifestyle to prolong health and wellness.
What is the Aging Process?
Aging doesn’t begin when you reach retirement or move into an independent living apartment at a CCRC. From the moment we’re conceived, our bodies age. Our cells, tissues and organs start growing, expanding, and aging. It’s often when we reach our thirties that we first notice clear signs of aging, and various factors can affect what the aging process looks like.
Every person is different, but here are some tell-tale signs of the aging process:
- Metabolism begins to gradually decline
- The heart muscle becomes less efficient and works harder to pump the same amount of blood
- Heart rate takes longer to return to normal after physical activity
- Bones become thinner and weaker
- Joints become stiffer and less flexible
- It’s harder for the body to control its temperature
- Movement of food through the digestive system slows down
- The walls of the ear canal get thinner and the eardrums get thicker, worsening hearing
- The number of connections between nerve cells in the brain decreases
- Skin becomes thinner and less elastic
- Sweat glands produce less sweat
- Nails grow slower
- Hair gets gray and for some, stops growing
- The body becomes more susceptible to infection
- Constipation and urinary incontinence are more likely
- Sight decrease in height as the bones in the spine get thinner
- Weight loss (usually after age 55 for men and 65 for women) due to loss of muscle tissue
How to Slow the Aging Process
No one can prevent aging. Sadly, there’s no fountain of youth. But there are things you can do to slow down the aging process and increase the odds that your retirement years are spent healthy, happy, and vibrant.
Consider these crucial steps:
- Take advantage of relevant screening tests to detect health problems early. Talk to your doctor about conditions for which you’re at risk because of genetics, age, family history, or other risk factors. Stay on top of your screenings. Early diagnosis and treatment of diseases has the ability to extend and enhance your life tremendously.
- Stay up-to-date on your immunizations. Aging weakens the immune system, so getting vaccines to protect yourself from diseases like influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and others is a great way to stay healthy. Older individuals are more susceptible to these conditions and many can be life-threatening due to the weakened immune system.
- Take a daily multivitamin and eat a well-rounded diet. Now’s not the time to slack off in terms of healthy eating. More than ever, your aging body needs plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and hydration. Drink water often, limit sugar and unhealthy fats.
- Build physical and mental activities into your daily routine. Keep moving, even if it’s just walking. Sedentary lifestyles are linked to increased risk of dangerous health problems like obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol/blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Mental activities are also crucial to challenge your mind and keep your brain active.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, it doesn’t matter how old you are – now is the best time to quit. Smoking can cause heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, stroke, and more. Studies have shown that quitting smoking can begin to repair the damage to your body almost immediately, so you’re never too old to quit.
As a continuing care retirement community, Concordia Life Care Community is dedicated to the health and wellness of its residents, no matter their age. You can’t prevent the aging process, but you can enjoy it by living in a maintenance-free community that feels like home. View our floor plans today, or contact us to schedule a visit to see all our beautiful community has to offer.
Health & Aging