Aging is inevitable; it is a process of growing old. However, it should not influence an individual’s life expectancy. We are able to live long and healthy lives if we live a healthy lifestyle by exercising, eating right, and for some, taking medications as prescribed by a health care provider.
“Healthy aging” helps us take control of a natural part of life. There is no one way to age healthy. It is about making good habits a part of our everyday living. Simple things like drinking more water can have a huge effect on how we age. Do you take the stairs when in a building, or do you ride the elevator? Do you walk to the mailbox, or use your vehicle? Do you limit snacking, or snack on healthier choices, such as fruits, vegetables and items made from whole grains? Making small adjustments to various bad habits benefit us immediately and in the long run.
Being physically active can involve things like taking walks or outdoor sports. Staying active makes our joints and muscles move, reducing stiffness and further joint pain. Staying active also increases metabolism so that food is not stored as fat. Walter Breuning, the oldest known man in the world whom just celebrated his 114th birthday on September 21, 2010, said that hard work and eating right are both ways to age healthy.
Another way to age healthy is to get a good night’s sleep. According to the National Institute on Aging, “getting enough sleep helps [us] stay healthy and alert” (Age Page). Sleep gives our body time to recharge and it also prevents us from being tired throughout the next day.
Already have a chronic condition? You can still “put life back in your life.” Better Choices Better Health, or Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) workshops, are being held throughout Hawai‘i. This is an evidence-based program developed through Stanford University. Its research shows that people can have an increased quality of life through self-management skill building.
The Elderly Affairs Division of the Department of Community Services City & County of Honolulu is currently conducting Better Choices Better Health workshops island wide. These workshops are open to individuals 60 and older with any chronic condition, such asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity or fibromyalgia. The workshops are also available to caregivers and others who may live with a loved one who has a chronic condition. Support systems are welcomed to register. During these self-management workshops the focus is on staying active and enjoying life even with an ongoing health problem.
For more information about Better Choices Better Health, or to sign-up for workshops, call the Senior Helpline at (808) 768-7700