Most of us expect to make it to old age, if we think about it hard enough we can picture ourselves, white haired and surrounded by our children and grandchildren. However, this isn’t the way life goes for some people, and it’s true- old age really is a privileged denied to many. In some cases, accident and sudden illness can come along and cut life short unexpectedly. But in huge numbers of people, their lives are shortened due to decisions they have made. No one can guarantee a happy and healthy future, but if you want to give yourself the best chance then here are some things you can do in the here and now.
Live a healthy lifestyle
We’re all told we need to live healthier lifestyles, but what does that mean in the real world? We don’t all have lots of time to cook meals from scratch every night, the energy to spend our free time at the gym or the luxury of having an early night every night. However, just because you can’t be ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean you can’t make a significant difference. If you don’t have time to cook from fresh every night for example, spend one night a fortnight and batch cook a number of meals at once. Portion them, freeze them and you then have healthy home cooked food without having to resort to takeaways, even when you don’t have the energy to cook. You might not want to go running in the morning before work (who could blame you) but there are ways you can introduce activity into your life. Go on walks in the woods with your kids, you could print worksheets on Pinterest and make it an interactive nature trail. Go on hikes with your dog at the weekend, or go swimming which is always fun. Take up a sport that’s of interest to you, you’ll be having so much fun perfecting your skills that you won’t even be thinking about the health benefits! Getting enough sleep might feel like a luxury, but actually most of us could get more if we prioritized our time better. Get organised and get things done earlier on in the day rather than waiting until bedtime and rushing around. One of the very best things you can do for your health is to give up your dangerous vices. Binge eating, smoking, drinking and taking drugs. There’s something that almost all older people who are reasonably well have in common, and it’s that they’re roughly the right BMI, they don’t smoke, drink or abuse drugs. Some people can live to an older age by doing maybe one of these things, but it’s almost always their downfall in the end and can lead to painful cancers and other illnesses as a result.
Attend all of your appointments and screenings
Even if you feel fit and well, it’s worth going into the doctor once a year for a check up. They will be able to check your weight and blood pressure, your blood sugar, do a simple urine analysis and a few other quick and painless checks. This will ensure you’re in good working order, and if anything looks like it could be a problem, you’ve caught it at the earliest stage where it’s easiest to treat. Depending on your age and gender, you’ll be invited to attend medical screenings on a regular basis too, for example women above a certain age (this can range from eighteen to twenty five depending where you live) will benefit from cervical screening. These screenings can detect illnesses at the very earliest stage, as often by the time symptoms present the condition is already established. Other checks that are worth attending are vision and hearing tests. People can be put off as they’re scared of being told something is wrong, but between laser eye surgery, innovative hearing aids and other excellent technology, it needn’t impact your life. If you want to stay fit and healthy, taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle is important, but getting checked by medical professionals regularly can be really helpful too.
Take up hobbies
Hobbies are something that people of all ages need. They’re a way to build your skills and even improve employability in adulthood, and later in life they can truly give your days meaning. Develop your interests when you’re young, work out what inspires you and explore these areas. That way you can continue or branch out based on the skills you learn into later life. It could be anything from a craft to baking, gardening, cooking, writing or whatever else your heart desires. As you reach older age, hobbies give you a sense of achievement and pride, keep the brain active and reduce the risk of dementia. So finding your interests now and keeping up with them as you move through life can be really helpful to both your mental and physical health.
Build a good support network
One thing that each and every one of us need in life is a support network. The people that celebrate with us when we’re happy, that build us back up when we’re sad. People we can vent to, discuss our ideas with and those that make us better as individuals. Keep in contact with friends and family, make time for them. Connecting on social media and messaging services is great, but spend time in person wherever possible. Not only are friends and family good for your mental health, but they can be for your physical health too. They will give you honest advice and let you know when they’re worried about you. They might persuade you to see a doctor when you otherwise might have skipped out on it.
What will you do to ensure you live the longest, happiest life possible? Let me know in the comments below!