Let’s take a look at a hypothetical situation to explore aging well.
Gus is a 65-year-old man, and his lifespan plan is the following:
- Never eats breakfast. Coffee only.
- Consuming the fiber found in beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits? Only if they’re covered in gravy or deep fried in chocolate sauce.
- Skips the low-fat milk and yogurt, and instead gets his much-needed Vitamin D for those bones from a pint of ice cream—butter pecan for the added protein.
- Drinks plenty of water with his Scotch.
- Walks to the elevator and to the motorized scooter, so there’s the exercise for the day.
- Talks regularly to a live human being, and that would be the guy who runs the convenience store nearby where Gus drives his scooter each day for ice cream and Scotch.
Gus is pretty much doing everything wrong, and if he keeps this lifestyle up, he’s likely to not make it much further than 65.
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are essential to good health. And in your younger years, you may have been able to slide a little on both of those things, but as you age, the effects of neglecting a proper diet and physical activity can make your life miserable or lead to an early grave.
It’s never too late to begin healthy habits. And in addition to feeling better and having more energy, you may help stave off the loneliness that can plague senior communities.
You can basically do the opposite of Gus, and make your lifespan plan something like the following:
- Eat breakfast each morning. Getting your digestive system moving in the right direction is a great way to get your body up and running.
- Fiber! Embrace it and it will treat you right. You can add a little to each meal and you can dress it up a little too so that it’s not so… well, fibrous. Put some honey on your oatmeal, add a cup of fresh fruit to your lunch, and tomato slices or cut green beans go with just about any protein.
- Ice cream is a nice treat from time to time, but you need a consistent and healthy dose of Vitamin D three times a day to help your bones as you age. Low-fat milk in a fruit smoothie and yogurt cups with berries or bananas are a good way to help prevent bone issues.
- Water! Ask your primary caregiver what an appropriate amount is for you and also ask about healthy ways to add some extra flavor so it’s not such a chore to drink enough.
- Stay connected to people. This is crucial to maintaining a positive attitude toward life. Reach out and call someone. Find a senior community nearby that has game nights. Maybe there’s a local breakfast joint you can walk to where some folks your age hang out. That can knock out several items on that lifespan plan.
Another good step to take is to talk with a local lawyer about life care planning – a collaborative effort between you, a certified elder law attorney, and care coordinators to meet your medical, legal, and emotional needs in the long term. For more information, please call Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC, at (570) 784-5211. It’s never too early to start your plan!