Starting 2016 with the end in mind.
By David Martin, RN, CEO, VeinInnovations
Happy New Year!
We all know aging is inevitable. How we age, and how long we maintain our independence, is negotiable, if we are both fortunate and intentional. To borrow a line from the late Stephen Covey – we can “begin with the end in mind.”
If you are in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, January is the perfect time to pause and think about how you want to age, where, and, to a degree, with whom, and to think backwards about how you want to “be” as you go into your 70s, 80s, and 90s.
To be a vigorous and energetic octogenarian with a sharp mind, strong bones, healthy muscles, and good balance, now is the time to take actions that will increase the likelihood of your still being able to live on your own, see, drive, play golf, manage your finances, and enjoy a healthy sex life. Even if you are in your 50s or 60s and have a sense that your abilities in these areas may not be as sharp as they once were, there is good news: the human body can continue to grow vital brain, muscle, and blood, and bone cells if it is properly cared for.
What we eat, how we sleep, the quantity and quality of our exercise, the degree to which we challenge our brains – even the people with whom we spend time – have a tremendous impact on our lives. This is true at any age. But for those of us in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, these habits become even more important.
For most of us, growing older means injuries will be more difficult to heal. Illnesses will hit us more frequently, and, possibly, harder. How we care for ourselves may well impact how long we are able to “age at home,” enjoying a good quality of life.
New research shows stepping up to improve nutrition, diet, exercise, and brain training can make a tremendous difference in the quality of our lives as we age, and how we recover from injury or illness. The earlier we start, the better. There is no better time than now to make your commitment to anti-aging and health improving habits including:
1. Increase activity – Walking 15 minutes a day helps. Adding some weight training to your routine will help increase, maintain, or prevent loss of bone density and muscle mass. Check with your physician first, of course, but even light weights can a big difference if used frequently and consistently.
2. Increase protein consumption – as we age, our bodies need more protein to stay healthy. According to the Society on Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders, a nonprofit group, as many as 41% of women and 35% of men age 50-plus eat less than the daily recommended allowance of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.36 grams per pound; a 160 lb. person would need about 59 grams of protein a day). The group actually recommends that total protein should be higher in that age range, or 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram per day (0.45 to 0.68 grams per pound – 72 grams for a 160 lb. person at the low range; about 109 grams of protein a day at the high range), spread equally through three meals.
3. Ask your physician to check your levels of Vitamin D and to recommend a supplement to your diet if your levels are low. Lack of Vitamin D impacts many areas of health, but especially your mood, ability to retain muscle mass, and your immune system.
4. Drink more water. As we age, it is more difficult – and important – to stay hydrated.
There are no silver bullets with regard to aging more slowly. Genetics play a big role. In your youth, how much you smoked, whether or not you’ve abused alcohol and other drugs, how you’ve watched your diet – all of these factors stack up to make one age faster. The good news? Starting now you may well be able to slow the rate at which you age. Next week we’ll look at the important role sleep plays in helping us heal, stay clear of mind, and keep a youthful outlook. Future articles will focus on vision and balance. If there’s a topic you’d like to see addressed, let me know!
Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016!
Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Aging: Diagnosis, Mechanisms and Therapeutic Options
Nutrition’s Role in Sarcopenia Prevention
Age and Its Effect on Wound Healing
The importance of drinking more water as you age