Four Keys to Healthy Aging

Four Keys to Healthy Aging

If you want to enjoy your golden years, you need more than a nest egg. You also need your health. Growing ill or disabled could prevent you from making the most of retirement, but thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to protect your health as you age.

For the healthiest seniorhood possible, make sure you’re armed with these healthy aging essentials:

The Right Health Coverage

Prevention and early intervention are key for maintaining good health. But if you don’t have health insurance that makes care affordable, you might avoid going to the doctor due to cost. In the long term, that could cost you big. Many illnesses left untreated only grow more severe and expensive to treat.

Seniors should know that Medicare might not cover everything their prior health plan covered. Medicare Parts A and B cover most inpatient and outpatient medical expenses, but they don’t pay for dental care, vision care or prescription drugs.

Seniors who want more protection than original Medicare provides can buy supplemental coverage or opt for Medicare Advantage (also known as Medicare Part C). Medicare Advantage includes the same benefits of Parts A and B along with dental, vision and prescription drug coverage, along with other differences. Medicare enrollment is only open during the seven months surrounding an adult’s 65th birthday or during annual open enrollment from October 15 through December 7 each year. New seniors need to enroll during this window to avoid gaps in coverage.

An Active Lifestyle

As an older adult, you’re probably less concerned with maintaining a trim figure than when you were younger. However, that’s no reason to stop exercising. Regular exercise is central to good health no matter your age.

For seniors, it’s vital to stay active to preserve mobility and physical function. This lets older adults live independently for longer. And it’s never too late to start: Even if you’ve been inactive for years, adopting an exercise regimen later in life can still improve your health.

Both aerobic exercise and strength-training exercises are important for older adults. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health (hence the colloquial term “cardio”), while strength training builds bone density and muscle mass. Many seniors also benefit from balance training to reduce their fall risk.

A Safe Home

Building physical strength and stability aren’t the only exercises seniors should do to prevent falls. It’s equally important to reduce fall hazards at home. Common fall hazards in the home include clutter, narrow walkways, area rugs, power cords and uneven walking surfaces.

While some fall hazards can be eliminated by tidying up, others require changes to the home itself. Retirement Living Information Center names common remodeling projects that make a home safer for aging in place. Seniors who need a safer home should consider whether remodeling their current home or purchasing a new home is the more prudent choice.

Community Connection

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, social isolation is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. And it’s not only mental health that’s affected: Social isolation increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia and premature death.

Some seniors find that moving to a walkable neighborhood or buying a home closer to family helps them stay connected as they age. Others stay put but cultivate an active social life in the community, rich with hobbies, volunteer work, faith-based activities and more. However, you choose to stay socially connected, make sure it’s a connection you can maintain even after you no longer drive.

Checking these four items off your list won’t guarantee a seniorhood free of disability or disease. Genetics, the environment and luck all play a role in determining how healthy we are in old age. However, by taking an active role in the one thing you can control — your lifestyle — you can achieve your best health possible during the senior years.

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