Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging

July 30, 2013 at 7:48 am

MC on Healthy AgingShape your later years into some of the best of your life. Use Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging as a compass to help you live life to its maximum. You can find happiness and vitality for a lifetime by taking charge of your future.

Getting old doesn’t inevitably lead to disease, decline and dependence. No matter your age, you can continue to enjoy good health, happiness, and an active lifestyle. The years ahead can be a time of growth, creativity, renewal and become truly “golden.”

Genes account for only about one-third of the aging process. Your lifestyle and environment, including diet, exercise, job and social relationships play a major role in future longevity once you’ve survived to later life, according to Mayo Clinic healthy aging experts. A simple recipe for a good life includes someone to love, something to do and looking forward to a future hope and challenge. Spend time with family, friends and pets. Become actively engaged in the world with new ventures, make a difference in your community, and share your wisdom.

Many of the most serious diseases and conditions can be prevented by adopting habits and behaviors that promote good health. These behaviors can lead to a life that is enjoyable and meaningful. Key factors include basic health standards: avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol, keep physically active, enjoy a healthy diet, and see your doctor regularly. Good health is also about keeping your life balanced and making choices that will benefit you for years to come. Prepare for retirement, stay socially and spiritually connected, and cultivate a positive attitude.

Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging offers action plans on retirement, maintaining social connections, creating a holistic approach to a healthy life, avoiding potential pitfalls and insecurities, and determining a life purpose.

This book also reviews what causes aging, what physical changes occur and how to minimize your risk factors. Learn what to do about changes in your body as you age. Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging provides explanations and practical responses to brain and nervous system, dental, cardiovascular, digestive, hearing, respiratory, immune, hormone and weight, skeletal and muscular, vision, skin and hair, urinary, sexual, and sleep changes.

Action plans include taking care of your bones, muscles and joints as a key to maintaining an active lifestyle. Get regular exercise that includes strength or resistance training. Weight-bearing activities that you do on your feet, such as walking and weightlifting, help strengthen and preserve your bones. Also consider adding tai chi, yoga or Pilates to improve your balance, increase flexibility, and strengthen core muscles.

Respond to your risks by overcoming an inactive life style, losing weight, developing stress management and resiliency, and taking steps to prevent, slow the onset or reduce the severity of any diseases or disorders that you may be likely to inherit. Being proactive, instead of reactive, may result in better quality of life and could even save your life. 

Challenge your brain throughout your life. “Use it or lose it” applies to the body’s most powerful organ, the brain. Use selective attention to focus on a task or conversation. Use memory tricks to aid in encoding information more efficiently. Make associations such as linking a new name with an image. Repeat, rehash and revisit new information. Break down large amounts of information into meaningful, manageable chunks. Create a vivid mental image, write it down, and use cues, such as a sounds, smell or auditory signals. Mayo Clinic offers a memory training program which dedicates 10 hours of time to a computerized brain fitness program. In a nutshell, stay curious and try new things.

Challenge your body.  Regular exercise, particularly strength training slows the loss of muscle mass, and strengthens muscles, as well as provides cosmetic rewards. Lack of energy is largely the result of inactivity. Exercise encourages mental well-being, provides positive coping strategy, combats depression, may boost your immune system, prevents disease, and may increase life expectancy. This book offers methods and guidelines to getting started with aerobic exercise, stretching, balance, strength training and core stability training. Additional benefits occur with more physical activity beyond 150 minutes a week.

The section on nutrition includes how to eat well and enjoy great taste. The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid is reviewed to help you achieve a weight that is more healthy, as well as eating more nutritiously. The pyramid lists the number of servings recommended for vegetables, fruits, carbohydrates, protein/dairy, fats and sweets.

The Mayo Clinic Diet describes a lifelong approach to improving your health and maintaining a healthy weight. It includes two main parts: Lose It! covers a two-week phase that allows you jump-start your weight loss, losing as much as 6 to 10 pounds in a healthy way. Live it! offers an approach to continue your healthy lifestyle.

Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging also reviews insurance issues, advance directives, independence issues, and a quick guide to some diseases and disorders that become more common with age, but are not inevitable. Suggestions and recommendations are offered throughout the book to help you keep your body operating at its best possible level.

You learn how optimal aging includes good health, but also encompasses love, productivity, creativity, companionship, learning, concern for others, and developing a hopeful outlook. By following the steps and guidelines in Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging, you can feel good about yourself, no matter what your age.

Submitted by
Debbie L. Fuehrer, L.P.C.C.
Coordinator/Counselor
Complementary & Integrative Medicine Program

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