Getting older doesn’t mean having to surrender your independence or quality of life. There are growing resources helping seniors age gracefully into their 80s and beyond while maintaining a high standard of living. Many Americans want to not only reach their 80s, but enjoy their later years without anxiety. So how does one age successfully to embrace their golden years and retirement? It takes smart planning and careful decision making.
“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.”
– George Bernard Shaw
Staying active is the first part to aging well into your 80s and later. As you age your physical health declines more rapidly if you don’t exercise and maintain a healthy diet. The National Institute on Aging recommends a minimum of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Not only does aerobic exercise help with flexibility, but it helps your heart healthy and improves cognitive function. Exercise can also delay and prevent serious health ailments such as heart disease or diabetes. Buy a pedometer or a fitness tracking gadget so you know you are hitting your exercise goals. Looking for great iPhone or Ipad apps? We have a list of 20 Great Apps For Seniors.
If you are routinely taking five medications or more, it’s recommended that every year you review medication. Round up all your prescriptions and sit down with your doctor to go over what medications are essential and which ones may no longer be needed. It cuts down on possible side effects, and unnecessary spending if drugs are not covered under your formulary.
Be An Active Participant in Your Healthcare
Don’t become a passive participant in your healthcare and physical health. As you age, you may need to routinely take prescriptions for heart health, diabetes or spine problems. All of those specialists may not and probably are not coordinating your care with one another. Many seniors do not realize the power of having a great primary care doctor or a primary care coordinator. Both primary care physician and coordinator become your main point of contact between you and your other doctors. They become your healthcare hub that does follow-up appointments, manages medications and coordinating needs with your specialists.
Physicians aren’t your only cheerleader when it comes to getting the most out of your healthcare. Your insurance agent is a great go-to-champion for you. Medicare can be incredibly confusing and often times made more complicated than it needs to be. Find a reputable insurance agent that fully explains the plan benefits you are enrolled in. Many Medicare Advantage/Medicare Supplement companies offer healthy living programs like Silver Sneakers that offer free gym memberships or discounts with local gym facilities. Your Medicare plan may also offer discounts for dental, hearing, and vision centers that can improve cost savings and access to quick medical attention. Your agent should know the protocol to follow when needing referrals to a specialist, who is in network, etc. Let me guide you to make the most of your Medicare plan.
People who maintain broad social networks as they age have higher scores on intelligence tests and lower rates of dementia, studies show. Staying socially engaged has become easier especially with social media platforms like Facebook. Even if your family or friends are not in the same city or state you can get regular check-ins and stay engaged in their lives. Humans are social beings and when we continue to engage with loved ones, the rate for cognitive decline is 70% less.
Another great way to stay social and keep your brain engaged is volunteer or part-time work. Not only will you get to interact with the public, but also contribute to helping your community and keeping you active. Contact your local Office on Aging for volunteer and work opportunities that cater to your needs. Keeping up with your social engagements wont only help you continue to feel happy, but boost your brain’s health!
With careful decision-making with the right team around you can make a whole world of difference to your standard of life when aging. Getting older doesn’t have to be hell with all the resources that surround us to make easing into the golden years even more stress-free. Again, your insurance agent and primary care physician can be a powerful team to help you get the most out of your health AND healthcare so you can age gracefully.