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Self-care is Important for Healthy Aging

How to live better and longer by taking care of yourself

Healthy aging man dog walking
A good, healthy aging involves taking care of yourself, including regular exercise and
picking up a hobby for your spare time, such as for example dog walking. (Image by Pexels)

Are you taking care of yourself as you age? For seniors, healthy aging can actually start with an area that a surprising number of people overlook: loving yourself. Self-love and self-care play a bigger role in our health than many people realize. In fact, they are crucial to mental, emotional, psychological and physical health.

How to Take Care of Yourself

If you (or a loved one) are an older adult, here are some things you can do to take better care of yourself, whether mentally or physically, emotionally or psychologically:

1. Have healthy hobbies

Hobbies can be a great way to occupy your time while also having a positive impact on your mental and emotional health. Picking up a hobby or learning a new skill can keep your brain sharp and possibly even fight off dementia.

For instance, you might start a new hobby like gardening, which allows you to get a workout through a relaxing, fulfilling hobby. If you’re seeking a more creative way to express yourself, you could take up painting or learn to play a new instrument. These hobbies are fun, simple activities you can do at home, whether alone or with others.

2. Invest in time for your own self-care

Sometimes this involves making time for health and fitness. You might take a walk each morning, enjoy a relaxing bath each evening, or simply cook yourself a healthy, well-balanced meal for dinner. Other times, self-care comes in the form of mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Multiple studies, including this one, have linked prayer, spirituality and religion to improved mental and emotional health among seniors. In fact, some studies have found that spirituality can reduce depression and improve longevity. Making time for worship can actually be an important part of self-care for seniors.

3. Get plenty of regular exercise

We already know that exercise and eating well are two keys to staying healthy and fighting obesity. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to invest in a gym membership or try to bulk up in muscle mass. You could start with small, realistic goals, like simply getting at least 10 to 15 minutes of activity each day. While breaking a sweat is great, it is also important to choose activities that you enjoy. For instance, if you’re an animal lover, you might consider becoming a professional dog walker. This allows you to get some exercise and fresh air while help other people; not to mention, you’d enjoy all the cuddles and puppy kisses you’d ever want.

4. Eat the right foods

Diet plays a large role in health and self-care for all ages. This is especially true for the senior population. Providing our bodies with the right nutrition helps us stay safe, healthy, and independent as we age. The National Council on Aging recommends seniors eat a balanced and nutritious diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Learn more here.

5. Get enough sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in our health, wellness and happiness. As you start to prioritize your own self-care, go to bed earlier. Prior to bedtime, take at least 10 minutes for yourself. This could be time to unwind through activities such as gentle chair yoga, meditation, prayer, listening to soothing music, or even just some “alone time” to sit and breathe. You’ll feel calm, centered and ready for a restful night’s sleep.

As you can see, loving yourself can be an important part of self-care for seniors. As we age, it is increasingly important to devote time to our own needs. Especially later in life, we must take care of our bodies, minds, and souls if we want to stay healthy and happy. By incorporating the health and wellness techniques listed above, you can help live a longer, more fulfilled life.

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