Dylan Thomas, in his famous poem, urges all of us to “rage against the dying of the light” when it comes to aging and death. Maybe rage is a bit much, but I agree we should not “go gentle” into the “good night” of old age.
As Amanda Bennett said in her TED talk, we need a “heroic narrative for death.” In other words, don’t be in denial about your mortality. It will make the aging process much less stressful for you and your loved ones.
While we all should come to terms with the aging process as a natural part of life (unless you’re a transhumanist who seeks immortality), acceptance doesn’t mean we need to take a defeatist mindset. There are things we can do to mitigate the effects of aging.
Old dogs might not be able to learn new tricks, but old humans can still create new, healthier habits at any age. Here are some easy changes to make when seeking to slow down the aging process.
(Note: of course, when it comes to all the advice in this post, talk to your doctor about what’s right for your specific needs before making any lifestyle changes.)
Take Charge of Your Health
You need to be your own health advocate. Period. No one else should be solely responsible for that part of your life. Monitor your weight and blood pressure between doctor’s visits. Speaking of the doctor, make sure you develop a good relationship with a primary healthcare provider you trust, so you can feel confident enough to ask questions and take a stand for your health. Make sure you’re in the know about things like nearby emergency care facilities and local pharmacy care. In general, be prepared when it comes to your health.
It Doesn’t Take Much to Be “Active”
It is never too late to start exercising. Even if you have not lived a particularly active lifestyle, small changes can go a long way. Even simply walking has huge benefits. Our bodies evolved to move, so it makes sense that staying in motion will keep us healthier longer. Just a half hour of aerobic exercise a day is a great start.
All Things in Moderation…and Balance.
When choosing what type of food to eat, aim to establish a balance in your diet. Of course, plenty of fruit and vegetables are a good starting point, but you should also explore whole grains, healthy lean proteins, and dairy. As for things to stay away from, processed foods and refined sugar should be at the top of your “no-no” list.
Reduce the Risk of Falling
As you get older, your sense of balance starts to deteriorate, and you are more likely to trip or fall over. To tackle this risk, you can do regular exercises to improve your balance and leg strength. If you are taking any medicines that induce drowsiness or dizziness, you should consult your doctor about how to mitigate falling risks. Make sure that you get your vision checked on a regular basis. Also, you should look at ways to reduce the tripping risks in your home.
Keep Your Mind Active
So far, I’ve only talked about the body, but it’s also essential to keep your mind active as well. Try to learn new things whenever you can—take up a hobby or join a class. In other words, learn stuff. That will keep the brain firing. Speak to other people regularly and test your memory on a regular basis.
These are just a few ways you can ensure that you stay healthy in your latter years. Remember, even though heroes may get old like everybody else, that doesn’t mean you should stop contributing to the well-being of the world around you. Never stop striving for new ways to maintain your health so you can keep living the hero!
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