Senior moments: Take care of your health

If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Physically and mentally.

Have you noticed that we look differently at people when they begin to show their age? For instance, it’s OK to be 49, but 50 is “over-the-hill.” But 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40 and if you don’t look 60 you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time. And the people who love you comfort you with statements like, “Age is just a number. You are only as old as you feel.” (Some days you may feel ancient and others, younger than springtime.)

As you age you may think you are slowing down a bit because you “aren’t as young as” you used to be. Should a 60+ year-old be on a ladder repairing a roof? Should he be changing the brakes on his vehicle? What happens to an aging brain? An aging body? It has something to do with the way you take care of yourself.

Stanley Kunitz was named poet laureate of the U.S. at age 95. He was still publishing and reading his poetry until he died at age 100. Allan Stewart was of New South Wales was 97 when he graduated from college in 2012. Twila Boston was 98 when she received her master’s degree from Utah State University in 2012 and Nola Ochs, now 101, of Hays, Kansas, received her bachelor’s degree at age 95, her master’s degree at 98 and is currently writing a book about her life.

In 2001 it was discovered that the aging brain continues to produce new neurons into the 70s. Contrary to previous beliefs, the brain does not lose vast numbers of brain cells as it ages.

The National Institutes of Health Senior Health website advises that eating well promotes good health by providing the nutrients needed to keep bones, muscles and organs healthy. Eating right affects energy, weight and digestion. The vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fats and water help reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol and manage diabetes.

Physical activity, things like gardening, walking the dog and taking stairs instead of elevators, improves the health of people who are frail or have diseases that accompany aging as well as helping the aging to stay strong, fit and able to remain independent longer. Exercise is a little different, strength-building through activities such as weight training, tai chi and aerobics.

“Studies suggest that exercise can improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity and ignore irrelevant information,” advises NIH Senior Health.

Physical activity helps prevent or delay disease and disability. It is effective treatment for some chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It also helps to reduce high blood pressure, improve balance and reduce walking difficulties. It helps you to manage stress and improve your mood.

What is your plan for good health and well being during your golden years? Can you achieve a college degree if you want one? Can you train for a 5K race? Can you achieve dreams you set aside long ago and thought they could never happen? What are realistic goals for you? When you sit down in a rocking chair after you retire, it’s not a good thing. What are you waiting for?

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail,