Healthy Aging for Women

Middle aged women getting ready to do yoga

Healthy Aging for Women

Women’s longer lifespans make them more susceptible to developing serious health issues like osteoporosis, heart attack or stroke, cognitive brain decline and increased breast cancer risk as they age, all of which can greatly impede overall quality of life during the journey toward their senior years.

September is Healthy Aging Month and your Capital Women’s Care team offers vital tips for healthy aging so you can pave the way to maintain and continue enjoying sound health during your senior years.

Healthy Aging Tips

  • Eat a healthy, nutritious diet. Enjoy an abundance of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins like fish and chicken and low-fat dairy in your meals and snacks. Avoid sodium, food additives like artificial sweeteners or MSG, trans and other unhealthy fats, processed foods and refined sugars.

  • Avoid common medication mistakes. You should always take any medication prescribed to you exactly as directed by your doctor. A periodic medication review with your primary care doctor to discuss your prescriptions is a good idea, as the more drugs you take, the harder it can be to remember when and how to take them all, and the higher your risk for adverse (negative) drug reactions or drug-drug interactions.

    While you should never stop taking a drug without first consulting your doctor, being proactive about reviewing your prescribed drugs can benefit your health.

  • Manage health conditions. It’s important to follow your practitioner’s care and treatment recommendations so your condition doesn’t worsen or trigger further damage to your health. Take medications as directed and follow your doctor’s instructions fully so you maintain your quality of life.

  • Schedule health screenings when appropriate. Take charge of your health, stay current on your personal healthcare plan with your practitioner and get appropriate health screenings as recommended. Regular recommended screenings greatly increase likelihood of favorable outcomes and lead to you achieving better quality of life if you’re diagnosed with a health issue.

  • Be active and get recommended physical and muscle-strengthening exercise. Aim for moderate physical activity, like walking, at least 150 minutes a week (22 to 30 minutes a day) and muscle strengthening activity at least 2 days a week. Exercise and physical activity are great for your mental and physical health and can help you maintain independence as you age. Numerous studies have linked a sedentary life to an increased risk of chronic illness and early death.

    It’s important to exercise to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, 2 health issues that increase as you age due to your body’s large arteries becoming stiffer, a leading cause of arteriosclerosis, a contributing factor of higher blood pressure.

    Strength exercises are great for maintaining bone mass, as bones become thinner and more brittle with age as they lose density, according to Medline Plus, sometimes resulting in osteoporosis. Low bone density raises your risk of broken bones, including those bones located in the spinal vertebrae which can cause stooped posture and height loss.

  • Nurture your skin and be “sun smart.” Your skin is your body’s largest organ. If you treat it with care, it can better protect your body from the elements, regulate your body temperature and provide sensation. Proper skincare includes:
    • wearing sunscreen and protective clothing (even on cloudy days) when outside.
    • getting yearly skin cancer screenings.
    • using only gentle products in your anti-aging skin care routine.
    • and staying hydrated.

  • Be aware of changes in brain health. It’s not uncommon to have moments of forgetfulness or thinking difficulties, especially as we age. However, monitor your brain health if you note any recurring, persistent changes and alert your health professional to determine its cause. Oftentimes, changes in diet or medication are helpful; however, should a brain health issue arise, your doctor can offer appropriate treatment and care.

  • Monitor your health. Take stock of your health daily, especially if you are managing diagnosed health conditions. Note any changes that impede your quality of life and address them with your health practitioner. The earlier you pursue intervention, the greater your chance of living your best life.

  • Be mindful of your mental health. Being happy and keeping your stress down goes a long way in helping you live and age well. Socialize, do enjoyable activities and accept the aging process all helps maintain proper levels of wellbeing. Have daily check-ins with yourself to be sure you maintain a positive outlook. If negative thoughts or feelings persist after 2 weeks, check in with your doctor for their recommendation for pursuing care via a mental health professional.

  • Lower your stress levels and practice mindfulness. Stress is a huge factor that greatly depletes both your physical and mental health, no matter what your age. Managing stress through meditation, mindfulness practices and exercise like tai chi and yoga are effective health tools you can use to manage and eliminate consequences of everyday life stresses on your overall health.

    Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better, including:
    • improved focus
    • better memory
    • lower stress
    • improved emotional reaction
    • higher relationship satisfaction
    • and increased immune function.

  • Quit smoking and/or vaping and lower alcohol consumption. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long you have been smoking, quitting at any time in your life improves your health. Smokers who kick the habit have fewer illnesses like colds and flu, lower rates of respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and pneumonia and experience an overall increased sense of positive well-being.

  • Prioritize “me time.” Whether it’s a few minutes to read a chapter from the latest bestseller by your favorite author or an hour spent enjoying a hobby you’re passionate about, time spent doing things you love helps you to keep your life balanced, allows time for your own personal growth and fulfillment and provides some time away from pressing daily duties. Doing so every day not only enhances the quality of your relationships with others but also your role within your family and community, reduces your daily stress and helps you to recharge and relax.

  • Stay involved with your community. It’s important to take active part of your community for positive influence upon your own health. Research indicates those who remain active and social face reduced risks of suffering from depression, dementia and deteriorating brain function which can shorten life span and impede quality of life.

  • Get enough sleep. It’s a myth that a person’s sleep needs decline with age. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as all adults, about 7 to 9 hours each night. Getting enough sleep keeps you healthy and alert, reduces your risk of falls and improves your overall mental well-being.

  • Seek out and begin new hobbies/interests. Being curious and engaging your brain in new activities strengthens your brain’s function, especially as you age. Research also indicates those who flex their brain power by doing puzzles, reading, and learning new hobbies or activities stave off debilitating cognitive decline.

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily. Drinking enough water keeps you regular and improves your energy levels and brain functioning. It also is proven to help keep skin healthier and reduce signs of aging.

    How much water you should drink relies on the following factors:
    • your thirst levels
    • your activity levels
    • how often you urinate and experience bowel movements
    • how much sweat your body produces
    • and your gender.

  • Adhere to regular dental checkups. The tough enamel that protects your teeth from decay can start to wear away over the years, leaving you susceptible to cavities. The American Dental Association (ADA) states the nerves in your teeth can become smaller with age, leaving you less sensitive to pain and potentially delaying a diagnosis of cavities or cracks in the tooth’s outer surface. And according to an article published in June 2017 in the American Journal of Public Health, more than half of those age 65-plus years have moderate or severe gum disease.

  • See your general practitioner regularly. Make sure you schedule regular well checks with both your primary care practitioner and your OB/GYN to assess your overall health. Doing so helps with early detection, a factor that greatly improves recovery and long-term outcomes.

  • Know your family health history. Keep abreast of your family member’s health, as it plays a pivotal role in monitoring your own personal health risks. Alert your practitioner during yearly well exams so they may institute appropriate monitoring and testing to reduce your own risk of potentially serious health issues and devise early treatment plans if such health threats arise to increase chance of favorable outcomes.

The foundation for good health is the same, no matter your age. To ensure your chance of having a long, quality life, eat healthy, remain active, see your local Capital Women’s Care team for regular check-ups, take care of your mental health and well-being plus avoid unnecessary risks. Your Capital Women’s Care team offers comprehensive, individualized healthcare from caring, friendly professionals whose focus is optimizing your health so you can enjoy a long quality life.

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/womens-health-topics/5-healthy-aging-tips-...
https://www.healthline.com/health/aging-gracefully
https://www.womenshealth.gov/blog/healthy-aging-tips
https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/understanding/index.aspx#:~...
https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/healthy-aging.htm
https://www.hhs.gov/aging/healthy-aging/index.html
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-healthy-aging
https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/?cmp=KNC-BRD-MC-REALPOSS-BING...
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/10-myths-about-aging
https://ufonline.ufl.edu/infographics/healthy-aging-for-women/
https://www.womenshealth.gov/blog/category/healthy-aging

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The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

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