Aging is a normal and unavoidable part of life. With age comes experience, insight, and enlightenment. Unfortunately, age also carries its own demons. Wrinkles adorn a once silky smooth skin. Silver streaks appear among the natural hair color; aging spots, aches, and pain is all part of it.
The inevitable truth of life is that it is bound to end. Immortality is a dream of many, but alas, it is just a dream, for scientific progression has not yet mastered how to halt aging. We may not have a fountain of youth, but several advancements to treat geriatric illnesses are a gateway for our senior citizens to a more robust and protracted life.
On the other hand, treatments are not the only way to add to one’s counter. Some simple lifestyle modifications may do the trick, too! So let’s go through 10 ways for seniors to increase life expectancy:
1. Get some exercise!
Working out is an incredible way to keep yourself young. It boosts metabolism, elevates mood, decreases ‘bad’ cholesterol while increasing the ‘good’ cholesterol, improves sleep, increases sex drive, and the list could go on.
All these factors and many other benefits keep the body working and increase life expectancy. Research conducted to study the effects of exercise on life expectancy concluded that regular physical activity increases life expectancy by up to seven years!
2. Eat right
Food is fuel. Good food keeps the body running right, whereas bad food could potentially cause irreversible damage. This is why eating the right foods is so important. Vitamins, minerals, and a balanced portion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are necessary for adequate body functioning.
After years of research, some emerging treatments for seniors have been shown to halt damages caused by bad diet and toxic substance exposure (like asbestos) to delay aging. Therefore, foods rich in antioxidants are encouraged.
3. Keep yourself hydrated
Water is essential for the optimal functioning of the body. It keeps the bowels regular, flushes harmful toxins, keeps skin fresh and glowing, and even helps lose weight. Senior citizens often compromise on good hydration to avoid visits to the bathroom, ultimately making them feel sluggish.
If urinary incontinence is problematic, a doctor’s visit might be due. Compromising hydration due to bathroom troubles is a common problem that needs further evaluation.
4. Soak in some sunlight
The elderly tend to stick to indoor activities with minimal movement involved. This lack of sun exposure leads to vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to premature aging, weakening of bones, and depression.
Sun exposure alleviates mood, provides an opportunity to socialize with a community member, and gives elders a sense of belonging. Regular sun exposure, especially early in the morning, has also been proven to regulate the circadian rhythm, improving the quality of sleep that is usually disturbed in the elderly.
However, whenever going out in the sun, sunscreen application is essential 20 minutes before the expected exposure to avoid harm to the skin (such as skin cancers) due to UV exposure.
5. Keep your doctor’s appointments
That regular annual doctor’s visit may seem like a waste of time, but skipping it might do much more harm. Senior citizens are more prone to getting ill and more likely to discover that they have developed new illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.
The ‘fear’ of illness may keep the elderly from visiting their general physician. Though contracting diseases in most cases is inevitable, the good news is that early intervention positively impacts life expectancy and seniors’ overall quality of life.
6. Connect with old friends
Seniors tend to lose old ties. This may be because, in this day and age of information technology, physical meetings are less frequent, and people tend to stay in touch through social media. Most elderly tend to avoid technology, and others who avoid physical meetings lose connection altogether. This leads to social isolation, which has many adverse health impacts on seniors. Family and friends should encourage seniors to stay connected as much as possible. This also allows them to share experiences with acquaintances and friends, share information, and even discuss health concerns and current treatments that others might be undergoing.
7. Mental health matters
One of the most neglected aspects of health is mental health. Depression and anxiety are common within the geriatric population. Having mental health problems is linked to decreased life expectancy. According to the World Health Organization, severe mental health disorders can take away up to 25 years from one’s life.
So one should not shy away from a visit to a mental health professional when needed. It will provide peace of mind and add years to life.
8. Have a routine, and stick to it!
A simple 10-minute workout or just omitting unhealthy food is an effective way to alter one’s life for good. Consistency is the key. As long as one minor positive change is consistently adopted, it will have a lasting impact. This is why daily routines are so important. So to add to one’s years, one needs to add to their routine.
9. Give to others
Seniors have vast experience and have so much to share with amateurs. Sharing knowledge and experience gives a sense of empowerment. In the same way, seniors who stay connected with the youth tend to live longer.
To some extent, they are encouraged to participate in versatile activities that the more seasoned population grows to avoid. It’s a win-win situation, where the youth benefit from the experience of the elderly and realize their self-worth while also keeping them energized.
10. Ask for help!
Doing things for yourself is excellent. It keeps one independent and mentally sound. However, it cannot be negated that with age, skills deteriorate, and eventually, help is needed. The elderly with good social support and access to help when needed tend to live longer than those who isolate themselves from others.
A sudden trip to the hospital, some help required with certain chores, or even a simple trip to the grocery store can all be expedited if one asks for help when needed. A well-timed call for help can evade a life-threatening situation and improve life expectancy.
The Bottom Line
The tips mentioned above are just a few ways seniors can increase their life expectancy. Simple lifestyle changes, consistency, self-care, and a sense of community are vital for a full and nurtured life. Following these steps creates a sense of security and physical well-being that adds years to the life of seniors and allows them to contribute even more to the community.