Reaching the point in life when you’re eligible for senior discounts has its perks. But it’s also an excellent time to check in with yourself and form a plan for living well and ageing healthier. The reality is that none of us are getting any younger. However, you can be proactive about managing your physical and mental health to maximise your quality of life.
Give Your Meals a Makeover
We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” Now is the perfect time to take that expression to heart. Just about everything to do with your health, from cardiovascular function to mental wellness, is impacted by what you eat.
You may not realise it, but research shows a connection between what goes on in our gut and how we feel emotionally. Your gut produces much of your body’s serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that helps fight off depression and other mental health issues. So having a healthy microbiome (gut health) is essential not just for digestion but also for overall wellness. Diet is one of the easiest ways to care for your gut health. You can do this by eating more fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso. Prebiotics, such as sweet potatoes, onions, and greens, can also help. Foods typically do a better job of regulating your gut than a supplement, but it can be challenging to get everything you need from your diet. In these cases, you may want to add a daily probiotic.
For the most nutritious diet, the blog Great Senior Living recommends making small changes that resemble diets common in “blue zone” countries (those where people have consistently lived longer, healthier lives). These are plant-based diets that are full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Start small by making one swap at a time, such as trying wholegrain brain instead of refined white bread.
Choose Activities Wisely
What you eat plays a significant role in your health as a senior, but what you spend your time doing is just as important. Your physical and mental health both depend on being active in a variety of ways, from staying physically fit to exercising your brain with activities like these from Improvememory.org.
Keep in mind that we all have limits, and with any activity, you need to be mindful of protecting joints and bones. Household chores like landscaping, mowing the lawn, and cleaning can be especially hard on our bodies. You may want to hire help for those more demanding tasks to avoid painful problems or to give yourself a well-earned break.
One reason these chores can be such a challenge is that older adults often experience a limited range of motion due to less elasticity in tendons and ligaments. Despite these difficulties, seniors should do a variety of exercise, including strength and cardio. If you’re new to exercise or have any medical concerns, you should check with your doctor for guidance on the best exercise program. If you’re used to being active, be careful not to push yourself outside your body’s limits.
Physical activity is essential for your physical and mental health. Seniors who enjoy the best quality of life are engaged in all kinds of other activities too, especially ones that give them a sense of purpose. If the idea of typical senior activities sounds boring to you, it’s time to find something you love. Rediscover an old hobby, or try something new like taking art, pottery, or music classes. Learning something new is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your brain and reduce the risk of memory loss.
Most people need the emotional connection of friendship, mental stimulation of fun hobbies, and the physical benefits of being active. These needs are no different for seniors! Prioritising these needs is how to feel your best and truly get the most out of your senior years.
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