September is Healthy Aging® Month and no American generation is more in tune with that fact than our “Baby Boomers”. The Baby Boomer generation references people born between 1946 and 1964, with the first boomers now reaching their 70th birthday. In the United States, there are approximately 76 million baby boomers, a number that includes people who have immigrated to our country and are of the boomer age. Considering the fact that within the next ten years, more than 1 in 5 Americans will be over age 65, let’s examine ways that baby boomers can stay healthy as they age.
Eat Healthy to Age Healthy. One of the best ways for baby boomers to maintain their health as they age is by getting the proper nutrition through healthier eating. Chronic illnesses such as diabetes pose the greatest risk to boomers’ long-term health. A well-rounded diet that includes low-fat sources of protein, vegetables, grains, and fruits. Another important consideration is that as you age, your body will generally require less fuel and burn fewer calories making portion control an important part of your diet.
Practice Active Aging. For baby boomers to stay healthier longer, regular exercise and activity should be an important part of daily life. Physical activity, combined with a healthy diet can play a major role in warding off Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses. Active boomers are not only healthier, but they are happier and maintain their independence longer than those who are not practicing active aging. Baby boomers don’t have to join an expensive gym to work on getting back in shape. It can be as simple as starting with 10 minutes of brisk walking and working up to a full thirty minutes. Other fitness activities for seniors should include stretching, strength exercises, and flexibility routines.
Quality Sleep is Important. As you age, there is a strong likelihood that you will develop one or more problems with the quality of your sleep. In general, sleep patterns will change as we age, but that doesn’t mean that it has to change for the worse. Practicing active aging will naturally help with the quality of your sleep, but if other issues are affecting your rest like apnea or insomnia, it is important to speak to your physician. One way boomers can help their sleep patterns is to develop good sleep habits. Staying on a regular sleep schedule, such as going to bed and waking up at set times will help you regulate your internal body clock. Too much alcohol or frequent napping during the day will also play a negative role in the quality of your sleep.
Prevention is the Best Defense. As the human body ages, the risks of developing a chronic or debilitating illness are greater. In fact, more than 60% of cancer patients are age 65 or older. Understanding your risks of developing cancer and making healthy lifestyle choices (Quitting smoking, etc.) is the first step in prevention. Following your physician’s recommended cancer screening program is another way you can manage your risk. However, cancer is not the only risk that baby boomers have to consider as they age. Taking steps to prevent hearing and vision loss is also an important part of healthy aging. Lastly, baby boomers have to recognize the hidden dangers of slips, trips, and falls. Each year, more than 2 million baby boomers are treated in emergency rooms because of a fall, with 700,000 ending up hospitalized with an injury. Recognizing the risks and actively preparing to prevent a dangerous fall is something that every baby boomer should take into account.
Baby boomers are entering their golden years and should be preparing to enjoy another 20 years. As much as anything, Healthy Aging® is a mindset, it is a determination to make life choices that contribute to maintaining health and well-being as we grow older. It is never too late to start making those choices or having that proactive mindset. On the contrary, Healthy Aging® Month is the perfect time to take responsibility for your best years ahead. Join our conversation in the comment section below by sharing the life choices you are making as a baby boomer, or leave us a comment on our Facebook page about how you plan the “actively age.” We’d love to hear from you!