The pace of world population ageing is increasing dramatiscally. Since the beginning of recorded history, number of young children have outnumbered the elderly. In the next few years, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people aged 65 older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050, with most of the increase in developing countries.
This “grey” period is being driven by decline in fertility and the improvements in longevity. With less children adding to the population, while people are living longer, older people are making up an increasing share of the total population. This dramatically change marks as one of society’s greatest achievements as a proof of better living standards, especially more nutritious diets and cleaner drinking water, which reduce serious infections and diseases among people.
A longer life brings more opportunity, people can experience extra years of life in good health and have the ability to do things that they value and give positive impacts to the society. Though all these facts are pleasantly attractive, it is still important to protect our health and longevity so that our future will be disease-free and enjoyable.
Follow the below guide cited from Prevention, to add color into your path to a longer, happier, and more vibrant life.
In Your 40s : Set a stronger foundation for a strong and healthy future
- Build strong muscle
Your muscle is the key driver of your metabolism, it it extremely import to take care of it while you can. By the time a woman hits 40, she will be losing about 10 pounds (4.5kg) of lean muscle mass and gaining at least the same amount of body fat. Lack of healthy muscle will increase the risk of diabestes, and less likely to be able to beat diseases, including cancer.
What to do : Strength training sessions for 2 times per week. This will cause muscles to pull on bone, which activates bone-building cells, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
- Cut down sugar
Once you reach 40, you are at higher risk of developing diabetes, heart diseases, and obesity. Cutting down this empty calories will help maintain your weight, therefore, you can live longer.
What to do : Eat clean, whole-foods based diet.
- Set a goal – Get fit
Based on a result found by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the Cooper Institute in Dallas on 18,670 male and female adults who had been the least fit in midlife were the most likely to develop any of eight serious conditions (diabetes, heart diseases, colon cancer, Alzheimer, etc) as compared with those who were most fit.
What to do : You don’t have to become an athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. You can move out of the least fit category by walking 20-30 minutes most days of the week.
- Get enough sleep
Humans can go longer without food than without sleep. Older adults need just as much sleep as younger adults – seven to nine hours per night – but often get much less. Lack of sleep can cause depression, irritability, increased fall risk, and memory problems.
What to do : Develop a regular schedule with a bedtime routine. Keep your bedroom dark and noise-free— avoid watching television or surfing the internet while in bed. Stay away from caffeine late in the day.
- Monitor your mood
As we age, our stressors change and so does our ability to deal with stress. Long-term stress can damage brain cells and lead to depression. Stress may also cause memory loss, fatigue, and decreased ability to fight off and recover from infection. In fact, it is estimated that more than 90% of illness is either caused or complicated by stress.
What to do : Practice 2.5 hours of mindfulness meditation, a technique that helps ground you in the present can help reduce anxiety or depression. Walking in nature has also been shown to alleviate depression and engaging in oxytocin-boosting activities, like hugging your loved one or cuddling with a pet.
- Take care of your gum health
If your gum bleed when you brush or floss, you may be one of the approximately 50% of adults with periodontal disease, a condition that increases inflammation, setting you up for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
What to do : Practice healthy gum habits by brushing, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash after you wake up and before bed.
- Protect your skin
Skin’s firmness, elasticity, and moisture will start to hit you at this age. Although you can’t undo the past, but you can combat further damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer by taking good care of your skin.
What to do : Apply moisturizer and broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF30 or higher, daily.
In Your 50s : Priortize clean eating and keep moving
- Fight belly fat
Now that you are steadily approaching or post-menopause, falling estrogen levels are causing body fat to shift from your hips and thighs to deep within your belly, which known as visceral fat, this deadly tissue does more than ruin the line of form-fitting tops. It wraps around organs and secretes inflammatory markers and other substances that raise your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
What to do : Cut down sugar! Resistance training, high-intensity interval exercise, enough of sleep, and a diet in low processed or packaged foods.
- Preserve your power
Once you hit 50s, the speed of losing muscle fibers will accelerate. Meaning, when you might not be able to cross the street as quick as you were before or pick up a heavy bag of groceries.
What to do : Starting or continuing full-body resistance training to boost metabolism, preserve the quality and health of your muscle, and help you regain the power you’ve lost. In addition, walking, running or cycling will give you an additional boost.
- Eat for healthier bones
The greatest loss of bone in quantity and quality take place during the first few years of post-menopause, average 51 onwards.
What to do : To keep your bones as strong as possible, focus on getting 1,000mg of calcium each day. Also ensure that you are getting 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Eating foods that are anti-inflammatory, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole-grains will lower bone density loss and fewer hip fractures in women.
- Choose plant-based protein
Going meatless on Mondays or vegan at breakfast could add years to your life.
“Eating high amounts of animal protein had a 75% greater risk of early death and a fourfold increase in their risk of cancer death during the next 18 years.” – A study by Cell Metabolism
What to do : Gradually add more meat-free meals in your menu, basing them around beans, lentils, non-GMO soy, nuts, seeds.
- Stay mentally sharp
At this stage, you will becoming increasingly forgetful. You probably can’t remember people’s names or unable to mentally calculate a tip. New research publised in PLOS ONE found evidence that significant cognitive decline can occur in women before age 60:
Postmenopausal women in their mid-50s showed a reduction in their ability to recall details and events and in how quickly they could perform mental tasks. – A research published in PLOS ONE
What to do : Stimulate your mind with challenges, such as taking a class or doing crossword puzzles, suduko or even play mah jong can help your brain stay healthier as you age. Additionally, a Mediterranea-style diet of fatty fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains; socializing; and physical activity may improve cognition.
Trouble of falling asleep is one of the most common complains during menopause. However, lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity and also drain your mental batteries, making it harder to think clearly.
What to do : Avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon, keep your bedroom dark and cool. As for physical, try to do yoga!
Menopause women who practiced yoga every day reported better sleep after 12 weeks. – A study by journal Menopause
- Be careful with joint pain
It is very common to feel the first twinges of joint pain in your 50s, but don’t stop moving! Activity increases strength, flexibility and can reduce joint pain.
What to do : Switch to lower-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, and yoga. Lose weight to take some pressure off your knees.
In Your 60s : Tailor your approach to wellness so it works for your body
- Embrace the extra pounds
Now it’s the time to stop whining about your weight or trying to lose, because by carring a little extra weight can actually help protect your body from falling and giving you extra energy to draw on if you get seriously sick, increasing your chance of surviving a disease.
Women and men who are 65 and older with BMIs of 20-25, which is usually considered healthy, had a 12% greater risk of death. – A data on BMI and mortality in more than 197,000 people
What to do : As long as you are not obese which can put you at risk of major health problems, then you should just embrace the little extra pounds in you!
- Modify your movement
Time to scale back and switch to low-impact activities. It is important to keep up with strength training to protect your muscle and bones as the musculoskeletal system taking the biggest hit at this age.
What to do : Do fewer exercised with very careful form, and rest a little longer after each move. Go for easy walk can still bring big benefit to your muscle and bones.
Women age 60 and older who walked approximately 3 hours a week experienced a 15% increase in blood flow to their brains and a drop in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Boost your balance
While this may sounds scary – one in every four adults ages 65 and older takes a spill each year.
What to do : Practice balance training – which can help prevent falls and reduce your risk of injury during exercise. For example:
Stand on one leg for a few seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. Practice several times a day.
Alternatively, if it is too wobbly, you may hold on a chair and work up to letting go.
Then, frequently challenge yourself to get on and off the floor without using your hands.
- Stay social
Maintaining connections with family, friends, and community can help ensure a long, happy life. Loneliness is as bad for your health as obesity is. Leading a solitary life may also make you age faster.
Men and women in their 70s who reported loneliness were much more likely to have trouble with simple daily tasks like climbing stairs. – A research by Brigham Young University
What to do : Go to yoga class, attend religious services, or volunteer for a good caused.
- Select fiber-filled foods
Now it’s the time to focus on fiber rich’s food, beside eating clean, taking low sugar, and getting plant-based foods. Almost 50% of people who are over 60 have colonic diverticula, sacs that develop in the intestinal wall that can become inflamed and painful.
What to do : Target to eat 25-35g of fiber a day.
- Don’t forget about Vitamin D
By the time you turn 70, your skin makes only a quarter of amount of vitamin D it made when you were 20. This deficit may tip the scale toward illness, since vitamin D helps you maintain bone and cognitive health and lower your risk of infections, type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
What to do : Take vitamin D if neccesary, sunbathing by exposing your arms and legs (without sunscreen) at least twice a week for 10-20 minutes between the hours of 10am and 3pm.
- Age-proof your brain
While you may start finding yourself searching for your reading glasses which are above your head, or went in the kitchen with no idea that you came for.
MRI studies show that adults who exercise regularly have a larger hippocampus (the brain region responsible for memory and learning), which helps to keep their mind sharp.
What to do : Find a few actitivies that you will enjoy, and do them regulary.
A 2017 study of people ages 70 and older found that the risk of cognitive impairment decreased 30% with computer use, 28% with craft activities, 23% with social activities, and 22% with playing games.
Many accidents, illnesses, and common health conditions, such as falls, chronic illness, depression, and frailty, are preventable. There are so many things you can do to stay healthy, active and independent throughout the golden years. No matter how old you are, it is never too late to begin taking care of yourself. Think about the ways that your health can improve by changing your lifestyle, diet, and go ahead to make those changes NOW. You are your own best advocate.
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