What does it mean to age gracefully? To me that means staying happy and healthy as long as possible.
How do we accomplish that? I think of the things I love to educate my patients on. First and foremost, No. 1, is healthy living.
Key items in healthy living include eating well, sleeping well, controlling stress and getting immunized.
In my opinion, the best thing someone can do for themselves is to eat healthfully. To me, that means eating more whole food plant-based products and less meat and dairy.
Now, that is a mouthful because I am a typical American food lover myself. It took me two months of trying hard to be successful at this. I would encourage you to do the same.
My favorite book I recommend on this topic is “Eat To Live,” by Dr. Furman. I like his program the best because he sets the bar high enough, it has structure that is easy to follow, and it is not impossible.
Next is sleeping well. I refer sleep hygiene as getting to bed on time in a cool, dark, quiet bedroom. Other important factors include staying hydrated and avoiding stimulating things like TV, stress and caffeine.
Also, alcohol tends to be poor for the deeper portions of the sleep cycle and often causes early morning awakening when alcohol withdraws from the system.
With that said, older folks don’t need to sleep as long as younger. So, getting between 6-8 hours is usually adequate.
Stress control is a critical component to controlling bp and the immune system. Try to live at a pace that is sustainable to your own psyche and well-being. Stressful relationships need attention.
Physical activity is great. Other stress relieving exercises such as mindfulness/meditation or an enjoyable hobby can really take the mind off things.
Social activity for most is quite enjoyable, but with this pandemic that has hampered things.
With that said, immunizations have already started to help. Those older than 65 are highly encouraged to get immunized for things that can kill you.
We all die eventually, but it does not have to be because of flu, pneumonia, or COVID. So, get immunized!
I trust this information is helpful. If you have further questions reach out to your doctor or contact us here at Nature Coast Health Care. I wish you a long, happy and healthy life!
Dr. Ken Savage Jr. is a Family Practice physician at Nature Coast Health Care in Crystal River. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of South Florida in 2001, his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience in 2005 and completed his residency in Family Medicine in conjunction with Nova-Southeastern University and Suncoast Hospital/Largo Medical Center. He is board certified in Family Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment by the American Osteopathic Board of Family Physicians. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 352-436-4328.