Live Well in Your Golden Years with These Essential Health Tips

By Karen Weeks, Elderwellness.net

If you’re a senior, chances are you’ve noticed that your body has changed in certain ways over the years. Positive and negative changes are a fact of aging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your golden years. In fact, they can turn out to be your favorite years. By making healthy choices and taking care of yourself, you can increase your chances of thriving physically, mentally and emotionally. Here are a few tips for seniors who are looking to get and stay healthy:

Evaluate your living situation.

First, consider your health in regard to your living situation. Are you alone? Can you afford to keep your house and live comfortably? Can you move around and complete daily tasks independently? Or do you need to be somewhere that offers community, amenities and/or medical care?

If you own a house and want to stay there, it’s important to make the home modifications necessary to accommodate any limited mobility you have or may have in the future. If you need more socializing in your life, a retirement community or independent living community may be the best option — and such communities also offer varying levels of amenities and medical care.

For those who find it difficult to fulfill daily tasks on their own, assisted living should be considered. You get the care you need while still maintaining much of your independence. Plus, most assisted living facilities provide access to a wealth of social opportunities and ways to stay engaged. When researching facilities, make a point to tour several so you know what to expect, and be sure to talk to staff and residents. Take note of the costs, too, which vary significantly – A Place for Mom notes that Tallahassee facilities range anywhere from $1,500 to $6,076 a month.

Review your Medicare.

Another way to ensure your health in your golden years is to regularly review your Medicare details. Medicare plans tend to change in one way or another each year, so make sure you know what your plan covers. For instance, most people have Medicare Part A and Part B — which are essentially hospital insurance and medical insurance, respectively. However, neither of these options cover the costs of prescription drugs. Therefore, you must add Part D if you want certain medications covered.

Additionally, you can purchase supplemental plans, called Medigap plans, that help to fill in some of the gaps in coverage. As an alternative to original Medicare, many people opt for a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), which usually covers everything that Medicare Parts A, B and D cover.

Eat nutritious meals.

Eating well is essential to people of every age, but it can be even more important for seniors. Make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need. This is more difficult to do when you eat a lot of commercial foods that are ultra-processed. Instead, opt for cooking healthy meals at home and/or choosing healthy options off the menu. Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, beans and peas are examples of foods that can leave you healthier and happier in everyday life. This applies to snacks as well; for instance, apples and nuts are more nutritious than a bag of chips or crackers.

Get moving.

As with diet, exercising is critical for everyone, because it strengthens your heart, muscles, bones and mental health, among other things. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day. This can be anything from walking to jogging to weightlifting. If you’ve been out of practice for a while, it’s good to start with walking and work up the intensity from there. If necessary, you can do two 15-minute or three 10-minute sessions over the course of the day. Furthermore, many seniors prefer activities like swimming, yoga and working out on an elliptical machine, as they offer a full body workout and are easy on the joints.

Aging comes with changes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t thrive. Consider whether you need to pursue a different living situation and review your Medicare options. Make sure you’re giving your body the nutrition it needs and try to exercise 30 minutes a day. Embracing the changes while caring for your health can put you in a better position to live well.

Ms. Weeks can be reached at karen@elderwellness.net.