Live a Long Life: Eight of the Best Tips for Healthy Aging

 

Welcome to another great guest post by Kaki Zell. Thanks SO much, Kaki!

 

Whenever a person turns 100 or older, friends, family and even reporters ask them: “What’s your secret?” Centenarians and supercentenarians (those who have lived past their 110th birthday) often have unique takes on why they’ve lived so long — 117-year-old Emma Murano said the secret to longevity is “being single,” while the third-oldest verified person ever, Nabi Tajima, said the key to a long life is “eating delicious things.”

Based on their responses, there is no one secret to aging past 100 — but there are a few ways to encourage healthy aging at any decade that are backed by cold, hard data. Until we discover the Fountain of Youth, here are some of the things you can do to foster healthy aging.

 

 

  1. Eat Well and Exercise — The two fundamentals to a healthy life at any age are diet and exercise. What you eat and how much you move have major effects on how you age. Nutritionists recommend eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats in order to provide your body with the right amount of nutrients. This healthy diet will also help prevent weight gain, which could lead to heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
  2. Get the Right Amount of Sleep — Like diet and exercise, sleep is fundamental to good health. The National Sleep Foundation warns that people with sleep problems are at a much higher risk for significantly diminished health. Untreated sleep disorders — including insomnia, excessive sleepiness and sleep apnea — have also been linked to heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, hypertension and other chronic or life-threatening diseases. Beyond getting enough sleep at night, studies also show that napping is good for you, so go ahead and relish that afternoon snooze.
  3. Boost Your Circulation — To live a long, healthy life, you need to get your blood moving. Poor circulation can prevent your body from staying healthy, healing well and functioning properly during everyday activities. In other words, it can hold you back from the things you want to do in your twilight years. Wearing compression gear as part of a compression therapy program is an easy way to improve your circulation so that blood can properly transport essential oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body. Putting on a pair of compression socks each morning can also help reduce foot and leg pain and swelling as an added bonus.
  4. Travel as Much as You Can — Looking for an excuse to finally book that luxury cruise? Here’s one: it can actually help you live longer. Research shows that those who do not vacation annually are at a 30 percent higher risk of developing heart disease. Other studies indicate that there’s a link between happiness and travel, so sunning on the beach or touring a famous landmark might benefit your mental and cognitive health, too. The primary reason taking a trip can support health and well-being is that it’s a surefire way to decrease stress, which is often the silent culprit behind many of our most pressing health issues.

  1. Take Up a New Hobby — There’s a wide variety of hobbies and activities that are linked to better health and happiness, from sports (for the obvious reasons) to writing, which improves cognitive performance and concentration. There are a few other activities you may be surprised to learn can prolong your life, including reading, gardening, playing chess, playing an instrument and cooking. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby is an excellent retirement activity and can connect you with likeminded people to foster social connections, so it’s an all-around win.
  2. Take Care of Your Teeth —Many people are surprised to learn that there’s a connection between the health of our teeth and the health of the rest of our body. The American Heart Association says that gum disease — the buildup of plaque that can cause tooth decay — shares risk factors with heart attack and stroke, and doctors often use oral health as an indicator of heart health. Good oral health also helps prevent bad breath, dry mouth, sores and cavities, which can cause stress and low self-esteem. So, the next time your dentist scolds you about not flossing enough, take it seriously!
  3. Stay Social — Study after study confirms the notion that good friendships help you live longer, so making your lunch and dinner dates a priority is certainly a good strategy to vitality. Loneliness is closely linked to lower mortality rates, with some studies suggesting that it could be as dangerous to your health as smoking. Similarly, those with stronger social relationships have a much higher (as much as 50 percent) likelihood of survival. The fact is that social connections are fundamental to a healthy lifestyle right alongside diet, exercise and getting enough sleep, so make sure you’re spending plenty of quality time with friends and family.
  4. It’s All About Prevention — An ounce of prevention is worth… well, you know the saying. One of the best things you can do to ensure that you live a long, healthy life is to practice prevention. With so many new medical advancements and insight, there is simply no excuse not to take the preventative route as often as you can. You can practice effective prevention through diet, exercise, regular health screenings, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and limiting your consumption of alcohol and processed foods. Make sure that you monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly as part of your prevention plan.

Thanks again, Kaki!

Comments are always welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday–or whenever I next have something to say. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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When Sleep Isn’t Restful

I have a problem. Okay, I know you do, too. And I hope yours is less of a nuisance.

Nuisance? Mine has gotten to be more than just a nuisance the past year or two. Makes me feel like maybe I am “aging gracelessly.”

Here’s the backstory…

My wife and I normally start heading for bed around 9:00 p.m. She reads for a while, and I close out my day by praying. So I fall asleep quite restfully.

At least I used to. But I have a mystery pain–after a surgical procedure we hoped would alleviate it, my doctor hopes it’ll still go away if I live long enough–that requires me to find the perfect way to lie down in order to be comfortable. I may start out on my back, my front, or my right side. My left side is usually–but not always–a bad choice. But then I often need to make a few small adjustments. Suffice it to say that one night’s perfect position may be exactly the wrong one the next night.

Once I get into position, however, I’m able to pray myself to sleep.

I normally need to get up at least a couple of times during the night. Hey, I’m a sixty-nine-year-old man. Enough said about that. Most of the time I don’t have much trouble getting back to sleep, although I do need to find a new most-comfortable position if I’m awake enough.

I take a very mild prescription medicine to help me sleep better. Although it’s supposed to be taken at bedtime, it’s more effective if taken after midnight. Otherwise, the effects don’t last long enough. It doesn’t make me groggy, thank goodness. It simply helps to keep my mind from fretting about ridiculous things I wouldn’t even think about if  fully awake.

On weekdays we get up at 6:30. We get up whenever we want to on Saturdays and at 7:30 on Sundays. So I spend a minimum of nine hours in bed, most of them asleep. I do tend to dream a lot, though.

So what’s the problem? Uh, did you read the title of this blog post? Oh, but of course you did.

Very rarely do I feel well rested. And it’s even worse if I attend a church function or do anything away from home the night before, even though I still get to bed well before 10:00. I feel even more wiped out the next day than usual.

What about sleep apnea, some of you ask? Excellent question.

I USED to have sleep apnea, which resulted not only in fatigue, but also caused me to snore intolerably, not to mention making me periodically stop breathing for a number of seconds, which always made my poor wife worry about whether I was ever going to start again.

So I had a sleep study done and ended up using a CPAP machine for several years. But I had to sleep on my back because of the type of mask I wore. Having to go to sleep on my back occasionally to accommodate my mystery pain isn’t bad, but having to sleep that way all the time back then got to be too much. So I used the CPAP less and less, and it currently resides in its travel case under the bed.

After intentionally losing fifty pounds, my apnea symptoms disappeared. My wife says I seldom snore anymore, and I never have any of those non-breathing spells. The only sleep apnea symptom that remains is the next-morning fatigue after an otherwise restful night’s sleep–not counting those irritating dreams, of course.

I keep telling myself to go to the doctor and see what he suggests, but that would take too much energy. And what if it’s something serious? Do I really want to know?

Hmm. Better to know for sure that something’s bad than to fret about it, huh?

Okay. I’ll go see the doctor. One of these days. In the meantime, I promise I’ll try to quit complaining. To my readers, anyhow.

What do you think? Any doctors in the house–arm chair type or medically trained? Or anyone experiencing similar problems? How about leaving a comment?

 

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Never Too Old for a Good Snooze

I’m getting drowsy right now. Ready for my afternoon nap. But I felt the need to at least start working on this blog post. While I didn’t have a subject five minutes ago, I’ve kind of just yawned my way into one. Let’s see if it works.

By this time of day, I’m normally ready for a change of scenery. After staying in the living room all morning (except for a ten-minute run to Sonic for a large diet cherry limeade, easy ice) five mornings of the week, that could mean getting outside. Cutting the grass. Picking up something at the grocery store. Checking out what’s new at Barnes & Noble. Taking a walk. Any of those activities would qualify as a change of scenery.

But in my retirement years I’ve come to prefer taking a nap. A simple siesta on the sofa in the living room. With Happy–the happy miniature dachshund–snuggled up on my lap. Or between me and the back of the sofa, depending on how I’m lying.

Getting to sleep isn’t normally a problem. I have relaxing music playing in the background, and that helps me tune the rest of the world out. Not counting phone calls, which I have little control over but a wonderful capacity for ignoring. No wonder. Practically none of them are personal.

I don’t normally sleep long. Half an hour is normal and forty-five minutes is almost unheard of. These naps don’t usually leave me groggy, either, thank goodness, but they do leave me refreshed and ready to get something done.

I remember too well when my daughter, Kristi, outgrew her nap-time as a child. Having her awake all of the time sometimes proved to be a real chore.

At least I don’t bother anyone else whether I nap or not. I’m just thankful I can enjoy those snoozes and hope I never get too old for them.

Until I take that final nap, anyhow. But I’ll be heading into the pearly gates of Heaven at the end of that nap.

What about you? Do you enjoy an occasional siesta? Do you have a favorite day and time for one–for example, a Sunday afternoon nap? How about sharing with a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

A Tribute to Afternoon Naps

napping     animalsEating     cpapRoger

For almost as long as I can remember, sleep has been an issue for me.

At one point in my life I tended to fall asleep far too easily at all the wrong times. During a meeting at work. While talking to a friend. During a sermon. I used to claim I’d fall asleep during a Billy Graham sermon when he was at his prime.

But at least I never fell asleep while driving.

There were advantages, however. I didn’t have any trouble falling asleep at night, and I almost fell asleep while my lady dentist of that time was working in my mouth. A real advantage when having a root canal.

I don’t know why I never talked to the doctor about my problem. Instead, I continued putting up with it until he prescribed something for a different problem, and my falling-asleep-at-the-wrong-time problem seemed to magically disappear. Even though I no longer take that particular medicine, I haven’t hadn’t any relapses into wrong-time sleepiness.

But a new problem surfaced over the years. Sleep apnea. Not only was I snoring loudly enough to raise the roof, I would actually stop breathing occasionally for seconds at a time. Not surprisingly, that concerned my wife. A LOT!

So I started sleeping with a mask connected to a CPAP machine. It worked great until I finally got tired of having to sleep only in certain positions. Otherwise the mask leaked air, which not only lessened its usefulness, but made noise I my wife and I could both live without. It wasn’t as effective as it had been before, anyhow. So I put it back in its case and stuck it under the bed.

When I was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, my doctor told me to lose weight rather than count carbs, and the interesting thing is my sleep apnea disappeared as I grew smaller. I still snore occasionally, but not nearly as objectionably, and my wife says I no longer quit breathing while I’m asleep.

Somewhere along the way, however, I started waking up in the middle of the night and frequently fretting irrationally about things I wouldn’t even be concerned about when I was awake. So the doctor prescribed amitriptyline.  Although the directions say to take it at bedtime, I’ve found the effects last better if I wait till I have to get up during the night–normally sometime between midnight and 2:00 a.m. Since it doesn’t actually make me sleepy, I can take it as close to time to get up as I want to.

Flash forward to the present. We normally head for bed around 9:00 p.m., and I pray myself to sleep. But the cat jumps on the bed around 5:00 a.m. and starts meowing more loudly than I’ve ever heard any other cat meow. Sure, fella. I know you had supper at 4:15, but can’t you let us sleep till 6:30, please?

He may or may not settle down until one of us gets up and feeds him. And if we’re feeding him, we have to feed the miniature dachshund, too. Then whoever got up to do the feeding comes back to bed and everyone tries getting back to sleep. Even if he or she succeeds, that break in our sleep leaves us less than satisfactorily rested.  Especially me.

So it’s the rare day that I don’t grab a nap soon after lunch. All I need is half an hour. Occasionally forty-five minutes. Then I’m all set to finish the rest of the day. Long live afternoon naps!

Do you have any trouble sleeping? What’s helped you? How about leaving a comment and sharing your answers with the rest of us…

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to the top right of this page where it says, “Follow Blog via Email.”

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on my other blog, “As I Come Singing“; go here to check it out. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of songs. You can find the list here.

Best regards,
Roger