People are living longer than they used to. Life expectancy has been on the rise for decades, except for a dip in 2020. As people are living longer, they are prioritizing health and happiness. Research repeatedly shows us that the factors we need to stay healthy as we age are the same ones that make for good mental and physical health throughout life: a nutritious diet, plenty of exercise, getting the healthcare you need, and maintaining strong connections with family and friends.
- Healthy Eating. Much research has concluded that specific diets have been linked to longevity. The often-touted Mediterranean Diet is the key to preventing many of the ailments we often associate with aging. It has won accolades from many, including The World Health Organization. A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, with protein like fish, nuts, and legumes is both healthy and sustainable. As always, it’s best to consult with your doctor or a licensed nutritionist before starting any new diet plan. They’ll be able to help you understand how a new diet may interact with any preexisting condition you have, such as hypertension or diabetes.
- Staying Active. Maintaining physical activity is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), almost all older adults should be engaging in exercise. That’s true even for those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis. The NIA specifically recommends that older adults focus on four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.
- Regular Checkups. Most insurance providers, as well as Medicare, offer several preventive services to help keep you healthy. The most basic is the annual wellness visit. Many providers (Medicare, too) also cover annual flu shots, diabetes screenings, and breast cancer screenings, among other preventive care. Take advantage of these services every year. Remember, it’s important to communicate with your doctor about any health concerns that have come up within the past year.
- Maintaining Your Social Calendar. While difficult to measure, the importance of social stimulation and companionship throughout our lives shouldn’t be underestimated. With your kids out of the house and if you’re retired, the lack of the daily social engagement of showing up to work can make it easy to feel isolated, especially if you don’t live with a spouse or partner. If you’re struggling to find connections in your daily life, consider volunteering, joining a civic association, club, or attending an interesting class.
You can also help ensure you’ll have plenty of opportunity for connection by living near family, friends or other retirees. Having this kind of built-in community can be especially helpful if at any point it becomes difficult or impossible to travel.