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From the Neighborhood Press

Healthy Aging: in style

As retirement approaches, many seniors wonder how they will keep physically active and mentally stimulated as the years go by. After all, health is often considered the number 1 topic for the elderly. And physical health is very much connected with mental health. What can seniors do that will keep them interested and active far into the future? Let’s take a look.

Mental health. Keeping the mind stimulated and engaged is very important for overall health. Social interaction is one of the keys to keeping the brain stimulated. As people age, social networks often become less accessible. In fact, experts link loneliness with a decline in cognitive ability. It’s important to take some steps to ensure you continue to be part of a community long after stepping out of the workplace environment, and all the social activities that came with raising a family. Now, a network of friends and neighbors who can support, challenge and give you meaning in life is vital. Senior communities, for example, can build an environment and neighborhood that encourages social interaction and life long friendships. These friends are also your neighbors. You can eat meals together, take walks together to promote fitness and join a special interest group. Sharing your life with friends and neighbors can bring meaning and purpose into any senior’s life. You will be there for each other to provide support and assistance in so many ways for years to come.

Physical Fitness

It is well known that physical activity is a huge factor on health. While social activity is important to get you motivated, the next step is getting out and getting active. It’s important to understand the balance of physical fitness that is healthy, and those activities which could actually be detrimental to your health. If you have a heart issue, for example, activities may require some adjustment or monitoring by your health care providers. Take some time and connect with your doctor regarding adequate physical exercise you may take part in. There are so many different activities you can enjoy from walking to swimming to a more social oriented activity such as dance. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a senior community, check out fitness classes you can join. You can participate in various classes until you find the one that you actually enjoy. Be sure to take advantage of these retirement years – get out and be active!

A healthy diet. It’s something your doctor probably talks to you about a lot. Food is such an important aspect of keeping your body functioning properly. But it’s also about enjoying your food! Meals should taste good and be satisfying. Food can make you feel energized and even happier in just minutes. Some health conditions require dietary considerations, so be sure to talk to your doctor about food choices and what to avoid. If you are in a senior community, assisted living or nursing home, you can find out what healthy food options are available. Dietary options are often available. You can start with small changes, such as health snacks. Instead of chips or candy, you might consider replacing those with some fruit or a vegetable snack. You doctor may advise you to check sugar or sodium content of various food items, especially prepared or packaged food. Food is your body’s fuel source! Healthy living starts with what you eat.

A meaningful life. Even if you eat the most nutritious food possible, go for daily walks and get regular health check-ups, having a life that is meaningful and fulfilling may rank number one in priority. And retirement allows you to shape your life in ways you never had the time before. If you wake up every morning with a purpose, you will be even more inspired to eat well and get proper exercise as well. And without social networking, you may never find that spark of inspiration that gives you purpose. Whether you find helping a neighbor, volunteering with children or leading a special interest group, it’s important to find meaning in life for both mental and physical health. While family will always be your first priority, those immediately around you such as neighbors and friends will also be your network of support – and the ones that you can help as well. You may also find meaning in a special gift or passion such as writing, art, or music. You can find ways to share this passion with others. Join a book club or teach an art class!

Healthy living has so many elements. As seniors head into retirement, it’s easy to become isolated. Make a point of surrounding yourself with a community who can support and inspire you. Together, seniors can inspire and challenge each other to live a healthy lifestyle. Senior living at its best.

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