Senior Center

Staying Healthy in Your Golden Years

By Jan Bolder - December 3, 2013

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Living a healthy life is important no matter what your age, but doubly so as you get older. Your body becomes less able to fend off illnesses, taking longer to repair itself than it would for someone under 30. Here are the top 5 ways you can keep on top of your health.

1. Drink Water

Your body is composed of about 60% water, and needs to maintain a constant level of balance of fluids, electrolytes and minerals for absorption, circulation, digestion and saliva production. A lack of water triggers the body's thirst mechanism (and so can some medications), starting a chain reaction with your kidneys and bladder that alter how much water is excreted as urine, or held onto for reserves. 

Maintaining a healthy amount of water in your body also helps prevent your muscles from literally shrivelling up from a lack of electrolytes, a potentially dangerous state. At best, muscular water deficiency can cause muscle fatigue, making you less able to use them properly. And at worst, atrophy can set in, severely diminishing your ability to function at an even baseline level.

2. Practice Good Hygiene

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is wash your hands regularly and at the right times. What may seem like a lesson for children stretches far beyond that: scrubbing your hands thoroughly with soap and water does a lot more than antibacterial hand gels and bathing. 

Brushing your teeth and flossing is also up there, as the two not only help prevent diseases like gingivitis, but also give dentists a window into your body, letting them see how at-risk you are for heart or liver disease, eating disorders diet deficiences, anemia, diabetes, arthritis, HIV, osteoporosis, and even some autoimmune diseases. 

3. Walk

Engaging in a weight-bearing exercise like walking helps keep your bones strong and your joints mobile. Although conditions like arthritis and fybromyalgia can make the prospect of getting up for a jaunt around the block daunting, it'll only take a few paces before your body limbers up and it becomes easier. The fresh air, too, will be good for you, as getting Vitamin D from the sun has been shown to help the body in more than one way.

4. Get Regular Check-Ups

Maintaining ongoing communication with a healthcare professional keeps you on top of issues and developments, often nipping problems in the bud. While seeing your doctor regularly and consistently isn't a guarantee to keep everything at bay, it can cut down on a lot of potential problems.

5. Cut Down on Bad Habits

It's never too late to quit smoking, as lighting up is one of the deadliest and most devastating addictions a person can have. There are absolutely no good effects associated with smoking, and each cigarette compoundly increases your chances of acquiring life-threatening problems. There are multiple ways you can quit but if you feel like you're not capable, even reducing the frequency with which you smoke is better than nothing.

Further, moderating your consumption of alcohol, "bad" foods, and even the amount of food you eat have all been shown to have positive effects on a person's health. Younger adults, especially those under 30, have bodies that can rebound fairly efficiently, but this decreases with every year you gain. As you enter your golden years, it takes longer and longer for your body to heal itself, with even dealing with problems as they occur taking on a reduced role.