MANILA, Philippines — Afraid of growing old? Well, no one can blame you. Like everyone else, you probably have been led to believe the horrifying myths that come with growing old.
It is that phase in your life, they say, when you will be riddled with sickness and fragility, when your good looks in your younger years will be replaced by wrinkles and white hair, when your mobility gives way to helplessness. It will happen. You have no choice.
The truth is that you have a choice. Growing old does not have to be like a prison sentence, and it could lead to some of the best years of your life. You are wiser, more experienced, and have more time to pursue a hobby you have always been interested in or finally give your time towards the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. By taking better care of yourself and making better choices, you can age gracefully and healthily.
“Aging is a natural process. It is inevitable, yet each has a different aging experience. It manifests in different ways, from as normal as hair turning gray to something more complicated like developing a chronic illness. We cannot reverse or stop aging, but we can improve our experiences during these later years in our lives, “ said Janice Zamuco, MD, a specialist from the Department of Geriatrics of Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed).
Healthy aging is possible by practicing the following healthy habits every day:
While older adults are advised to limit their physical activities, Dr. Zamuco recommended at least 30 minutes of daily activities, such as walking, aerobic exercise, or even tai chi.
“People often think that an older person will have a higher risk of accident if they move more. This is not usually the case. Exercise can, in fact, improve one’s balance and coordination and prevent falls. On top of keeping our weight down and boosting our mood, it can also help manage chronic illnesses like heart diseases and diabetes,” said Dr. Zamuco.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Incorporating more fruits, vegetables and other plant foods into every meal offers plenty of health benefits.
“Having a plant-rich diet can give you the antioxidants that can fight inflammation and free radicals that can damage the organs and speed up the body’s natural aging processes. Plant-based eating can also give you the nutrients you need to improve your immunity. It has also been linked to longer lifespans, helping people combat a variety of health probems, such as kidney diseases, high cholesterol, and even cognitive issues,” the doctor advised.
Get quality sleep
A person who gets older needs lesser hours of sleep. Right? Wrong.
“Many older adults only clock in a few hours of sleep every night, dismissing this as just a part of growing older. It is recommended that people 61 to 64 years old need seven to nine hours of sleep, while people aged 65 and up should have seven to eight hours of sleep each night,” added Dr. Zamuco.
Practice mental exercises
Dementia is one of the usual problems associated with aging. This is common, but not all seniors will go through this, because there are many ways to maintain mental sharpness.
“If you are at risk of developing memory loss and cognitive issues into older adulthood, take the necessary steps to fortify your mind as early as possible. Reading books, working on puzzles, playing board games, and learning something new can all help keep the brain active and dementia at bay. Growing old doesn’t have to be a dreadful part of human life. With better lifestyle choices, you can live every moment of your life with your loved ones to the fullest,” the doctor shared.