Aging Well: Healthy Tips for the Long Run
It’s true that the best time to start taking care of yourself is when you’re young and healthy. This is especially important for Hispanics, who have a higher risk of health disorders than many fellow Americans,1 including higher incidences of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.2 Disabilities and poor health usually increase with age.
“It’s never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle,” said Maria Rebozo-La Pine, Equality Health’s Cultural Care and Community Services Manager. “Paying attention to your health as you age may not only help you live a longer life, but a healthier and happier one.”
Here are some helpful tips, information and activities that you can start now to help make your life better in the long run.
Movement Is Medicine
One of the best ways to improve your overall wellness — at any age — is to start moving. A large amount of research links physical activity and well-being.3 The activities can include sports, aerobic exercises, household activities such as vacuuming and muscle-strengthening exercises.4
Physical activity is so important as you age that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states it helps delay, prevent or manage many costly, chronic diseases and reduces the risk of premature death.5 Light to moderate activity helps older adults think better,6 and helps prevent dementia and other cognitive changes discussed below.7 Getting 150 minutes of activity (that’s 30 minutes a day) is best, but the CDC states, “some activity is better than none.”8
Your immunity weakens due to a number of naturally occurring changes.9 As a result, you are more susceptible to age-related illnesses and infectious diseases. As you age, a healthy diet and quality sleep count more than ever. A diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, olive oil and low in meat, sugar and processed food help your cells function better.10
Without quality sleep not only your appearance suffers, your immunity does, too; and a lack of quality sleep can make it harder to get well.11 Falling and staying asleep can get challenging as you age, and often it’s because of medical conditions (acid reflux, depression or prostate problems) or medication and can be something your doctor can help with.12
Vaccinations can make the difference between life and death as you age. The CDC states that most of the hospital stays and deaths that occur during flu season involve adults 65 and over.13 Older adults are more likely to suffer severe or deadly infections from COVID-19, as well. If you are caring for an older adult, the best protection for them and you, is receiving a vaccination. Social distancing is important, but not isolation. Elder adults need social interaction. Isolation can harm your loved one’s immunity and mental health.14
Many people, no matter what their culture, don’t usually like talking about problems with their mental health. Mental health not only includes how we think, but how we feel and how well we get along with others.15 Hispanics, especially, often suffer in silence rather than talk about their nervousness (nervois) or how tired they are or that maybe they’re getting sick.16
All of these symptoms are physical, but they point to depression.17 For elder Latinos (60 years and older) the chances to experience anxiety and depression increase18 and can be greater than non-Latino Whites.19 Here’s when you need to seek help for yourself or your loved one:
- Difficulties sleeping.
- Eating more or less than normal.
- Feeling safer staying in bed.
- Having trouble concentrating.
- Losing interest in favorite activities.
- Having trouble doing everyday chores.
As you age, it’s normal to have “senior moments”. It takes longer to learn something, you’re not as quick as you used to be, you’re easily distracted, and you might forget a word or two now and again.20 These start around age 30 but really become noticeable after age 50.21
The good news is some mental processes actually get better as we age, like spelling and practical knowledge.22 Experts say exercising the brain may be the best way to keep it working — solving puzzles, reading a book, learning a foreign language or playing a brain-boosting game on the computer.
When memory lapses start affecting your life, or you notice a change in your loved one’s behavior due to memory lapses, be sure to visit your doctor to get a clearer picture of what may be happening.
Mental Health Self-Care Tips
Taking care of our mental health is more than just thinking positive. It involves every area of our lives. Here are some things you can incorporate into your routine:23
- Get 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Get enough sleep.
- Do a relaxing activity like meditation, breathing exercises or writing down your thoughts.
- Focus on accomplishments and learn to say no.
- Practice being grateful.
- Think positively and challenge negative thoughts.
- Stay connected with family and friends.
Keeping connected as you age, even during times of social distancing, has become easier than ever. If you’re in a situation where you aren’t able to leave the house, you can have the world come to you. All it takes is a computer and a few minutes surfing the web. You can do a low-impact exercise workout, work mind-exercising puzzles and even visit your doctor virtually via telehealth. If you need a gentle reminder about an upcoming appointment, your provider can text you and your cell phone can remind you.
Covering All the Bases
It’s important to note that having a health insurance plan that fits your unique needs, especially as we age, is as important as taking care of your physical and mental health needs. That’s why Equality Health® has partnered with health plans in Arizona, such as Cigna®, who are ready to help you choose the insurance plan that’s right for you.
Cigna provides a full portfolio of Medicare health insurance products for seniors, including Medicare Advantage. Dan Hoemke, Arizona Market President of Cigna Medicare Advantage, shares the benefits of choosing a Cigna Medicare Advantage plan, “A big part of aging well is having access to a comprehensive array of resources. With a Cigna Medicare Advantage plan, you have the opportunity for a one-stop shop for all of your medical needs. Extra benefits, such as transportation, home delivered meals and fitness resources are all part of the equation to be successful from an aging perspective”.
Cigna was just named by U.S. News and World Report as the top Medicare Advantage plan in Arizona. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, the more support and resources you have, the greater opportunity you’ll have to optimize your health and wellbeing as you age,” Hoemke added.
We know that choosing a plan can be a daunting task. To help you navigate the many options that are available, Equality Health has also organized the Equality Health Affinity Broker Network, a listing of health insurance brokers who are ready to help you find a plan that fits your unique needs.
For more information about Equality Health for to find a doctor near you, visit: www.equalityhealth.com/members.
All Cigna products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation. The Cigna name, logos, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. Cigna contracts with Medicare to offer Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans and Part D Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) in select states, and with select State Medicaid programs. Enrollment in Cigna depends on contract renewal. ©2021 Cigna
6 https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/inactivity-among-adults-50plus/index.html” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Ibid.
Published in Prensa Arizona, 10/28/2021