The average American feels strongly that they are prepared for the process of aging, despite concerns about maintaining their physical and mental health. A 2015 United States of Aging survey found 86 percent of adults over 60 felt they were prepared overall, and 42 percent of those said they were “very” prepared to age. The majority of respondents were most concerned about their physical health, while one-third was most anxious about their mental stability and memory as they age.
When we think of aging, we usually think of the physical weakening that comes from losing muscle mass and the ravages of memory loss. Both are inevitable to some degree, but there is a lot that can be done to sometimes prevent, and usually slow down the impact of aging on physical and mental health.
A Healthy Diet
If maintaining mental health is a priority, a healthy diet is key. Blood flow to the brain can be inhibited by too much sugar in the system, which can cause diabetes and may contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease and/or dementia. A healthy diet that promotes healthy aging is one that reduces caffeine and sugar intake and increases daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Be careful of the high concentrations of sugar in sweet cereals that can cause a “system overload,” saturating the blood with sugar. Fruits will provide the sugar the body needs, without creating an overload for the blood stream.
A Good Attitude
Just as too much sugar isn’t good for blood flow to the brain, neither is stress, or at least how stress is handled. Everyone has stress in their lives, and it’s usually daily stress. The way in which a person handles the stress can either benefit or deteriorate the brain. By focusing too long on an incident or issue, the brain loses its ability to move on or focus on more important tasks. Remaining versatile enough to adapt to stress, or address it head on helps to keep one young and agile.
Plenty of Sleep
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule and the healthy diet mentioned above and connected. Reducing caffeine and sugar intake leads to better sleep. Avoiding eating or drinking later in the day can prevent interrupted sleep. Whether it’s an after-dinner drink or ice cream, the sugar rush from eating late in the day may creep up on an older person when they are asleep, waking them in the middle of the night. Once awake, it may be difficult to get back to sleep. Identify what it is that can disrupt a good night’s sleep, find a way to change it to ensure a full night’s rest.
More than 10,000 American baby boomers are turning 65 every day, according to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and other agencies. As we put more years behind us, there’s still plenty to be done to keep ourselves happy and healthy. Don’t despair, simply prepare.
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