Did you know you begin to age in adolescence?
Just as most of us feel we are really getting going with our lives, our bodies are already beginning to fall apart. How can we take care of our bodies and minds for healthy aging?
We can deny it’s true, or we can address it with a lifestyle and foods that maintain and build healthier minds and bodies. There are things we can learn about how to age and be healthy.
What’s your choice?
Will you join me in learning more about what builds health so that you can mindfully attend to your physical health and wellbeing as you age? I hope so!
Every single bodily organ starts to change beginning in our late teens.
I was shocked when I broke my leg skiing when I was 23. It was a nasty break that had to be set while I was under anesthesia.
When I woke up, my doctor explained to me that if it had happened about 5 years earlier while my bones were still growing, the pasty stuff that grows into bones would be produced regularly and my healing time would have been about cut in half.
Instead, there I was with aging bones at 23, and it took a full 3 months before I got my cast off and started to rebuild the atrophied muscles.
That was practically a paradigm shift for me. I suddenly acknowledged I’m mortal!
When we know that we know that we are mortal, what steps can we take to ensure the most healthy minds and bodies possible as we age, so that we can have the fullest and most fulfilling lives we can?
To slow aging we need exercise and a healthy diet.
Your Doctor Has an Important Role
What is the role of doctors in healthy aging? Annual health visits matter. Your doctor keeps track of how your body is working. He or she considers many factors, including your habits and lifestyle and your hereditary factors. (S)he checks your vital signs, organs and looks at what your bodily fluids like urine and blood tests reveal.
Make your annual checkup count. Write down your questions before you go. Are you having trouble sleeping? Do your joints ache when you walk? How is your balance? How do you feel most of the time, physically and emotionally?
Should you get your annual flu shot? What about the pneumonia vaccine? My answer is YES. I also think the shingles vaccine is important. The flu and pneumonia shots are covered by most insurances, while the shingles vaccine isn’t…at least, not yet. All three of these diseases can be debilitating and even life-threatening. The vaccines help prevent and/or reduce the impact of them.
Geriatrics is the study of aging. With a good doctor, who stays on top of developments in medicine, we are not stuck with using the internet to diagnose ourselves. There can be as much good as misleading information, and we can go in a lot of wrong directions by self-diagnosing.
That doesn’t mean pursuing ignorance and dependence on your doctor. Some knowledge is a good thing. Sometimes it can lead you to get a second opinion.
It’s important to tell your doctor truthfully about your habits and lifestyle. “Garbage in, garbage out,” as they say. Accurate input helps to get accurate help.
It’s also important to tell you doctor when a medication is not helping you. There are some prescription medications that tests show help about 3% of the population, harm another 3% and do absolutely no good for the rest.
We had one like that that my Mom-In-Law was prescribed…she was one of the 3% who it harmed! Oh, it’s great when something works for you. But it’s not so great when you are wasting your money on something that isn’t, or is even bad for you.
What About Naturopaths?
Today in the United States, we don’t have medical insurance that covers naturopathic doctors. If you can afford to, and choose to, a good naturopath is a good choice. My advice for most of us, is to seek a medical doctor who is well-versed in natural remedies and even goes to them as a first resource, before loading you up with prescription medicines.
It wasn’t too long ago that chiropractic treatment wasn’t covered by most insurances. Who knows what the future will bring?
There are treatments like hormone replacement therapy that aren’t covered, yet they not only can add sexual and energy benefits to our aging bodies, but help maintain healthy organs and muscles. To me, it is unfortunate and even unwise that these are not covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare. I believe hormone replacement therapy is preventative medicine.
How Important are Visits to the Dentist?
A BIG YES here too. How does a dentist help you with healthy aging?
Many diseases can first be seen in the mouth for one thing. Your dentist can catch something that needs a look by your medical doctor before it becomes life-threatening.
Healthy teeth and gums also support healthy eating. Without regular care of our mouths and teeth, it can become harder and even painful to chew foods.
Regular dental visits twice a year for cleaning by the dental hygienists, and once a year for visits with the dentist, are an important part of taking care of our health and wellness to have healthy aging.
Your Role is Not Passive
It’s not all about visiting the doctor and dentist. Those are important. But there are parts of your life directly under your control and responsibility, too.
Healthy eating, with enough fiber, vitamins and minerals, proteins and healthy carbohydrates can’t be replaced as a priority for your life. Learn more about how to eat healthy for best body and brain function as you age.
Getting exercise of our physical bodies maintains musculature, supports healthy sleep and increases release of feel-good hormones and enzymes in our bodies.
Exercising our brains is important.
Doing crosswords or Suduko or some other game on paper or online is good for our linear thinking. Pursing creative activities such as painting with acrylics or pastels exercises our creative thinking, to help us have inspirational thinking about life design. Just as exercise helps maintain healthy bodies, brain exercise helps maintain healthy thinking and cognitive ability.
Life Design thinking is the way we control the focus and direction, and the satisfaction, from our lives. I want that, don’t you?
Creative pursuits can help with meditative connection to our Source. There are other ways for Spiritual Growth and Development. You can go to a church that satisfies your soul. You can take a yoga class. You can get meditative music and guided meditations. You can just breathe in nature. These all calm the mind, body and spirit and contribute to overall health.
We aren’t islands and social and emotional interaction is something that feeds our spirits. Family, friends, and social groups are great. A pet can be health-giving.
Take one step today to mindfully enhancing your health. What will it be?
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