16 Steps to Stay Healthy

“Like a fine wine, we grow better with age,” so the saying goes.

That may be true of our character, wit and wisdom. Unlike a mature wine, however, human beings will not grow better with age if we sit around, all bottled up, year after year, in a darkened cellar.

Most people know that aging gracefully is best accomplished by continuing to pursue happiness through family, faith, friends – plus sensible diet and regular exercise.

One common complaint, after retirement, is boredom and a feeling of reduced self-worth. If you or someone you know is such a go-getter, then why stop “doing important things” at the point of your life  where you now have more time for relationships, volunteer work, or perhaps to start a “twilight career – or help someone you know launch theirs, based on your experience and wisdom.

Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH has published her Healthy Aging Checklist, “which is my list of six fundamental activities that will help any older adult maintain the best possible health while aging.”

They are:

  1. Promote brain health and emotional well-being.
  2. Promote physical health.
  3. Check for and address common senior health problems (such as falls, memory concerns, depression, incontinence, pain, isolation, polypharmacy).
  4. Learn to optimize the management of any chronic conditions.
  5. Get recommended preventive health services for older adults.
  6. Address medical, legal, and financial advance care planning.

Parent Giving has ten excellent, practical tips to ease aging. I especially like #10:

  1. Quit smoking.
  2. Keep active.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight.
  5. Prevent falls.
  6. Stay up-to-date on immunizations and other health screenings.
  7. Prevent skin cancer.
  8. Get regular dental, vision and hearing checkups.
  9. Manage stress.
  10. Fan the flame with sexual intimacy.

People just love lists, don’t they? But when you get a list of 16 items, rather than tackle everything mentioned above, pick out one – or several – of them you think you could actually do, and start a positive feedback loop between your plans and intentions, and the following results.

Once you can celebrate a few personal victories with affirmations like, “I got my shingles shot!” or “I am sticking to my two-treat-a-day calorie-reduction plan!” or “I played ping pong for 30 minutes today!”

The mind believes what you tell it. When you think you are “old and over the hill” – no longer a benefit to yourself, your friends and community, and the world – you become that.

“The key to the future in an aging society is not found in increasing just our life span; we need to increase our health span at the same time.”
– Chuck Norris (karate champion and action-adventure movie star)

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