Tips for healthy aging

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

KELLY PARSONS

University of Kentucky

What goes up and never comes down? Your age!

September is Healthy Aging Month, an observance designed to celebrate the positive aspects of growing older.

Keeping in touch with your neighbors, community and world around lowers the risk of dementia. Staying social and engaged improves your brain health. There are many ways you can engage in activities, including programs at your local senior center, the Silver Sneakers program and volunteering.

Aging can be filled with opportunities for self-growth and exploration of the world around us. Healthy Aging Month reminds us that engaging in social and productive activities has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve mood and live longer.

We experience significant changes as we age: retirement, moving to a new area, changes in health status or mobility can all impact our ability to stay connected. These events can result in a loss of connection which can cause you to become isolated and/or feel lonely.

Here are five ways to celebrate Healthy Aging Month and promote healthy aging in your life:

• Get active: The body is the vessel of the soul. That is why taking care of it is one of the most important elements of healthy aging. When it comes to exercising, keeping a routine is key. Finding a workout partner, joining a dance class, or getting outside and enjoying some fresh air are all great ways to stay active and have fun while doing it! Sooner than you know it you’ll be looking forward to your next workout.

• Keep your mind sharp: Keeping your mind active will allow you to stay as mentally sharp as you’ve ever been. Learning new recipes, playing word or number games, learning to play a musical instrument or joining a book club are fun ways to exercise your mind.

• Keep exploring: Keep your life exciting by visiting new places, volunteering and traveling. Local libraries, senior centers and universities have programs for all interests. For example, the University of Kentucky has the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLLI) program, which offers educational and enrichment opportunities for people age 50 and older.

• Stay on top of your health status: Over time, it can be easy to lose track of routine doctors’ visits, but as we age it is more important than ever to stay on top of our health. Make this September the month to re-up on annual shots and checkups. Remember, Medicare will pay for your annual wellness visit. Keeping up with your health conditions can help prevent serious health issues in the future.

• Stay motivated: Sometimes, getting older can take a toll on your mental and emotional health. Know that you are not alone. Finding a community can help to keep you motivated.

Whether you’re in your 40s or in your 80s, it’s never too soon (or too late) to begin your journey of healthy aging. Celebrate Healthy Aging Month by making the choice to take care of yourself for yourself.

Kelly Parsons is a social worker at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.