The late, great Groucho Marx once said, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”
It’s a funny line, but the fact is, we are all living much longer than the generations before us. In Hawai‘i, our life expectancy is 80 years old. It’s among the longest in the nation (and the world). Living longer is a good thing. However, it also places a new burden on each of us to stay healthy longer. It behooves us to take care of ourselves.
Recently, on the Elderhood Project, we featured a story about a couple that spends more than $1,000 per month, which is a substantial portion of their budget, on medications. With fixed incomes, many seniors find themselves in a similar predicament. Needless to say, the fewer medications you need, the less money you will have to spend on them. That requires paying attention to your health year after year, during each stage of life.
Exercise is one of the best ways to extend your quality of life into “elderhood.” If you can, exercise 30 minutes a day, even if it means just walking around the block a couple of times.
Next, notice the little things—a twinge that wasn’t there before, a blemish that won’t go away, indigestion after every meal. Finally, see your doctor about these types of changes in your body. Also, don’t miss your annual check-ups. While you’re at the doctor’s office, request a preventative health screenings schedule. These screenings are often covered by your insurance and can save your life. The screenings detect diseases early— before you see or feel any symptoms.
I’m not a doctor, but I know a lot of them. They all say the same thing. Hawai‘i has the reputation of being the healthiest state in the nation. There’s a reason for that. You are listening to your health care providers. Contrary to what Groucho said, it’s never too late to take better care of yourself.