There is no doubt about it the world’s population is aging. In the United States, an estimated 4.2 million residents now fall into the age group of the “oldest old”, 85 years and older; and centenarians, those older than 100, are the fastest growing subgroup of the elderly population. At the same time, we are experiencing an epidemic of chronic “lifestyle diseases” such as diabetes and heart disease. One third of the elderly will experience a fall this year, and 42% of people over 65 have some limitation in function.
It is clear that our current medical model of crisis driven interventions, or “sick care” is failing our aging population. Our pharmaceutical driven medical care is creating additional problems due to side effects of drugs and negative, poorly understood interactions between drugs. While sometimes necessary and helpful, drugs have side effects that are particularly problematic for seniors. Confusion, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, memory problems and falling are common because of the effect of age on medications.
If we are going to live longer, it would be well worth our while to maximize and maintain our health and mobility naturally as we age, so that we can avoid the pitfalls of modern medicine. At Summerfield Chiropractic, our experiences with our senior patients, and our individual experiences with the aging process, have provided insights into positive steps that our patients can take to age healthfully.
Embrace a Positive Attitude
Research shows that having a positive attitude can lead to not only a longer life, but to a healthier, higher quality of life. Work towards avoiding “toxic” thoughts and emotions like anger, worry, and fear, and focus more on an “attitude of gratitude”.
Get Out of the Chair, Off the Couch, and Out of the Car
Find fun ways to stay in shape, such as dancing, swimming, gardening, or yoga. Include strength training to maintain muscle mass and to increase bone density. Include exercise that increases your heart rate to strengthen your cardiovascular system and to maintain a healthy weight. Include stretching to lengthen muscles that have been shortened from our sedentary lifestyles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week.
Find Time to Relax
Include meditation, massage, yoga, and chiropractic in your life. Stiff and tense muscles cause more than just aches and pains. They can block blood flow, lymph drainage, and energy flow, which can cause aging of the skin and other organs.
Keep Your Body in Alignment
It is essential to have correct posture whether sitting, standing, or walking. Proper posture decreases strain on muscles and decreases pain. Chiropractic adjustments, along with targeted strengthening and stretching exercises, can help develop and maintain proper posture.
Make Healthy Diet Choices
What you eat and drink — and what you don’t eat and drink — can make a big difference to your health. Choose whole, natural foods like fruits and especially vegetables, eat organic when possible, consume healthy fats, nuts, legumes, and healthy sources of protein. Avoid processed foods. Get in the habit of reading labels. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you probably shouldn’t eat them. Drink plenty of water.
Stimulate Your Mind
Research shows the more educated we are, the longer we live. And the benefits of education are even more pronounced when we continue to learn throughout our lives. Take advantage of classes in a huge array of subjects available to the public through local colleges and senior centers. In addition, you may want to try a mentally challenging activity such as crossword puzzles or learning a new language.
At Summerfield Chiropractic, we can help you to develop and maintain healthy lifestyle practices so that you may stay vital, strong, and healthy into those “golden years.”