Last year, Northwestern University released a study of “super agers”, people over 80-years old who have maintained excellent cognitive function. The study noted a clear link between brain health and positive relationships.
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In addition to cultivating and maintaining social connections, we’ve identified six other key factors that influence how we age and you have some control over them all. You just have to lean in.
- Physical strength. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, but you do need to remain active. Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim, play a little pickle ball, practice yoga. Taking fitness and just plain activity seriously enough to maintain a basic amount of body strength is also very important for fall prevention. Most doctors recommend 30 minutes a day.
- Home modifications. As physical needs change, people need to adapt their environment to accommodate those changes. Install handrails, clear the floor of any throw rugs, move furniture to ensure a clear path through it. Arrange your cabinets to make things you use every day readily accessible. Add floor mats and guard rails to your tub, check the lighting in your bedroom to make sure you can see at night.
- You don’t necessarily have to cook your own meals, but you do have to make sure you are consuming nutritious food. Home delivery services make that very easy. Pay attention to what you put in your mouth and make sure you keep healthy snacks in stock. Stock up on freezer containers so you can split one large meal into several smaller and freeze them for later use.
- Of course, having a driver’s license makes transportation much easier. But, once driving becomes too difficult and you need to give up your license, you can find other ways to get around. Public transportation, taxis, ride sharing programs are available in most areas and, where they are not, you can hire someone (maybe a young person who needs some spending cash) to drive you where you need to go.
- Cognitive function. Pursue brain fitness activities and a healthy lifestyle to help retain cognitive abilities. Studies show this can prevent or delay dementia. Read a good book, do crossword puzzles, follow recipes, play cards or other strategic games.
- This is the most important factor of all. Do not accept a loss of independence as inevitable. Always reach for the highest level of your abilities, physically, cognitively, and socially.
If you or anyone you know would like to discuss more ideas for how to maintain your independence as you age, give us a call. We’d be glad to go over options with you to make sure you’re well prepared physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively and financially for what could be some of the best years of your life.