Optimal Aging Tips – The Big Five

Research shows us five areas to consider for optimal aging.  Health is on every senior’s mind and to keep one’s mind and body healthy, we need to “work” at it. Aging Well Music at the Senior CenterThe Big Five include: Healthy diet, regular exercise, a sense of purpose, social engagement and learning new things. All five are under our own control. They may require consultation with experts. They do require commitment and practice.

Healthy Diet

We are to some extent what we eat. What we buy and eat ought to be the types of foods which give us the most nutrients. The Mediterranean Diet remains popular for brain and body health. Less meat and dairy, more fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains and legumes.  We recommend you meet with a Nutritionist who can evaluate your dietary needs and put together meal suggestions for you. Always check with your internist or specialist before starting a new diet regime.

Movement & Exercise

Keep your system moving by, well, moving! Walking is terrific for cognitive and physical health. Again, best to consult either with a physical therapist or trainer who can tailor exercises to your personal needs.  Your doctor should also be consulted on the types of physical activity are best suited for you. Daily or at least a few times a week of exercise helps your blood flow, digestion/elimination, muscles and the brain.

Sense of Purpose

We may not be the kindest country to old men or women since our society is youth obsessed. Perhaps the Boomer wave as they get into their seventies and eighties will change that. Humans need a sense of purpose for our overall wellbeing. Retirement often ends our role as a career person we prided ourselves as. Parenting roles change once children grow into adults themselves. We can plan for our post retirement years as the upside is we have the time to do the things we didn’t have time for while working and raising a family. Embrace your hobbies and interests. Volunteer somewhere. Find a new sense of purpose.

Social Engagement

For many people, post retirement allows for getting together with friends and family more often. For others, leaving work means leaving an established social network. Even if you aren’t such a social person, being alone too often leads to isolation. We know that engaging with others helps our mood and sense of self.  Join a club, check out www.meetup.com, volunteer, go to the park or mall and at least people watch. Our brains need social interaction beyond the television and computer. It also means you are getting out and moving around more.

Learn Something New

Brain imaging shows us now that new pathways in the brain can be created. They are not formed by repetition of the familiar but rather by having the brain actually think and learn. Learn a new skill, hobby, language; take different routes to familiar places. The idea is to have your cognition kick in and have to figure something out, problem solve and learn something new. Public libraries today have lots going on and are a fun place to learn, meet and engage with others.

If you or a loved needs help getting out, shopping, cooking, exercising then hiring a companion or aide may be an easy solution.  They will have a driver, shopper, cook and someone to engage with or accompany them to new places, like a Senior Center, Community Center, YMCA/JCC or Adult Education classes.