Healthy aging: Holding on to independence

“J” is a familiar face. She walks briskly every day and has for years. She presents the picture of good health, of taking care of herself.

“M” bought a new, pretty, red car. She’s planning to get cataract surgery behind her so she can drive that little beauty.

Sidelined with some health issues, “L” was threatened with the loss of independence but with some home modifications that addressed the issues, remained at home for a longer time.

“Staying physically active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle,” advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s a bit of a challenge for some of us who thought when we got older life’s pace would slow down, but we still have full plates, and, well, there just aren’t enough hours in a day. But, don’t we find time for the things that mean the most to us? Bump your good health and well being up near the top of your priority list.

Just because we get older doesn’t mean we can’t do for ourselves or we can’t drive or live on our own. Keeping active, maintaining our brains, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and reducing stress help keep us on our toes … if we can just get past procrastinating and move.

Make connections in the community. Visit people you know who are in nursing facilities. You might make a difference for them just by stopping by to let them know you think about them. Join a club or service organization. Giving your time to help others is good for them and it’s good for you. You can even become employed if you want. Find the resources you can use now, and the ones that you may need later. Check it out online at www.hhs.gov/aging/healthy-aging/.

As we age, our lives and bodies change. And so do the things we need to stay healthy. Diet and nutrition are at the top of the list, along with exercise. Don’t forget about socializing. Humans are social by nature. People need each other.

Eat breakfast. It’s so easy to grab a cuppa (coffee, tea, whatever your favorite morning beverage is) and forget to eat. Also, depending on some of the medications you take, breakfast can be a challenge. For example, if you take medication for thyroid first thing in the morning, check the bottle for a message that tells you not to eat anything that contains calcium or iron for four hours. That challenge I mentioned. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables and other high-nutrient foods. Control portion sizes. We don’t have to eat as much now as when we were younger.

You need 150 minutes of aerobic exercise weekly, things like walking briskly, swimming, biking, and my personal favorite, chasing a young grandchild who also urges me to “get steps, Meemaw.”

Another aspect of growing older to be grappled with is domestic violence.

“Abuse in later life,” says the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “has a devastating impact on victims and can result in the loss of dignity, health, independence, life savings, security, and death. The report cites research that finds “adult victims of abuse have shorter life spans…” Physical and psychological effects may lead to alienation, anxiety, depression, fear, guilt, helplessness, shame and stress.

Everyone isn’t given the chance to reach the “golden” years. Your golden years matter. So step up, dance like there’s no one watching, and enjoy good health and well being for as long as you can.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

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