Ways to Remain Active and Independent as You Get Older. Activity Key to Better Health and Longevity.

Even if you have been a couch potato most of your life, becoming active, even if you are over 40, will improve health and independence as you get older. There are several things you can do now to maintain good health as you age.

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Ways to Remain Active and Independent as You Get Older. Activity Key to Better Health and Longevity.
6 Min Read October 14th, 2021 Updated:October 4th, 2022

It is no big news that aging is a part of life; however, a lot has changed since being fifty was considered "old age." We live longer, and the aging process has significantly slowed with medical advances. But we must do our part in helping our bodies reach that potential. 

Even if you have been a couch potato most of your life, becoming active, even if you are over 40, will improve health and independence as you get older. 

Amanda Stroud, APRN, a nurse practitioner at St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital and HSHS Medical Group, says there are several things we can do now to be healthier as we get older. Stroud says that engaging in regular physical activity, healthy eating, and forming strong social connections will all help us age healthily.

Periodic health check-ups can help you make the most of your 'golden years' and keep you from needing an extended hospital stay or admission.

Once you get past age 50, these check-ups can catch several age-related health problems.

An annual check-up can also help identify early some serious health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

Regular check-ups and remaining active are vital to maintain a better quality of life as we age. There are many ways to do that with help and even on your own. Being active starts now, and if you follow some simple tips, you can achieve your goal in no time.

Health and Bodies Change with Aging - Being Active Leads to Independence

The more you move, the more you will be able to move in the future. Naturally, our minds and our bodies will experience declines as we age. We might not be as quick or as agile as we were in our twenties. But that is no reason to give up. 

Studies have shown that longevity is created by the proper diet and daily activities. 

This does not mean you have to run a marathon every day or lift heavy weights. But if you are still mobile, try to maintain that by a variety of daily activities that will keep you independent for as long as possible.

Avoiding Dependence Starts Here

When considering getting older, most people want to avoid dependence on their families. Despite declining health and deteriorating bodies and mind, activity will help us maintain better health and independence for many more years.

The level of activity for any person will depend on many factors. For example:

  • Age
  • Level of mobility
  • How active you were throughout life
  • Any medical conditions that prevent you from doing certain activities

It is essential to always be safe and gradually get yourself to the level that satisfies your needs. Whether you were always active or are just now starting—it is never too late. 

You can improve your physical and mental functions, no matter your age. Not only will you be more physically able, but your cognitive abilities will also stay in better shape.

Avoid Bad Habits - Embrace Healthy Habits

  • If you haven't already, quit smoking. Most people will believe there is "no point" in stopping at a certain age or it is already "too late." It is never too late to start being healthier. Your cells can absolutely regenerate by quitting bad habits and introducing healthier ones.

  • Avoid junk food and go for veggies and fruits as much as possible. These powerhouses are full of fiber that can control blood sugar, maintain gut health, fight cancer cells, and do much more. They will undoubtedly help you stay active and independent as you age.

Don't underestimate the power of a healthy diet.

  • Do not forget to sleep. We all underestimate the importance of sleep and how greatly it affects everything we do. Not getting enough sleep can lead to diminished cognitive agility, lack of concentration, and, more dramatically, a greater likelihood of suffering from a stroke.

Become Social - Keep Socializing

Remember that you need to take care of your mental health to stay independent as you age. Most people's socializing declines as they age, and being alone for too long is never a good option. 

Stay in touch with your family and friends as much as possible. Engage in social activities whenever you can. The more isolated you are, the more your confidence will decrease, leading to fear and injuries. Keep the mind active as well as your body. Take up a hobby, join a book club, visit a senior center or find any form of socializing that best suits your interests.

Socializing will make you happier and more confident.

Consult Your Doctor and Stay Safe

Always consult your doctor before taking up any physical activity. You will most likely be aware of your limitations and take precautions with activities. Nevertheless, there is no need to take it too far and stop all activities. 

The worst thing you can do for your body is not to move. If you have back problems or joint issues, it is good to speak with a physical therapist, and they can give you instructions and tell you precisely what to avoid and what kind of daily exercises to focus on. 

If you have a chronic illness that prevents you from being overly active, your physician can advise you on acceptable activity.

Types of Physical Activities to Try

There are many activities available for any age. The important thing for you is to start slowly; this way, you can test your abilities and gradually increase your endurance.

  • If you are not used to being active at all, start by moving around your home more than usual. Get up every now and then, do some dusting around the house, cook, go for walks more often—even to the supermarket. If you have a garden, gardening is a perfect way to stay active.

Stay active and independent as you age by tending to your garden. 

  • There are some awesome, low-impact ways to keep moving for the more active ones. Try out yoga and meditation, tai chi, Pilates, and maybe even dancing.

  • Once you gain more mobility, agility, and strength, you might consider working with light weights. Improving muscle strength will support your back, keep you more balanced, and give you strength for daily activities.

  • Gardening is a perfect way to help you remain active and grow healthy veggies and more. 

Moving? - Follow Good Practices to Avoid Injury

Moving is daunting for almost anyone at any age. Many seniors decide to relocate after they retire - or perhaps just before they retire. Whether you are downsizing, moving closer to children and grandchildren, or moving to a better climate, do so safely since the process can be challenging - physically and emotionally. 

There is a lot of preparing and organizing to do, and just think of all those boxes. The rule of thumb for everyone is to not lift any heavy boxes without assistance

Even if you have been active and fit, one wrong move - one twist the wrong way - can be painful - or worse.

Most of us will need help with moving, so why not leave it to experienced professionals? They know many ways to make this work without you breaking your back in the process. Keep your body and mind safe, and have your family and friends be there for you while you go through the move.

Getting Quality Care When the Time Comes

The consequences of aging will lead to dependency at some point. We will need help with everyday living activities due to declining health, mobility problems, dementia, or frailty. 

Who will take care of you, how will you pay for it, and will the care help you maintain a good quality of life? These questions should be asked before you need care, ideally before you retire.

Quality care can be found in a facility like assisted living or at home. The cost of all long-term health care is exploding nationwide, according to the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator. You can find the current and future costs on this helpful tool - LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator.

You should be aware that health insurance and Medicare (including supplements) will only pay for a limited number of days of skilled services. Medicaid requires you to have little or no income or assets. The solution, unless you want your adult children to become caregivers or if you want to drain your assets, is to have Long-Term Care Insurance.

Long-Term Care Insurance is affordable, especially if purchased in your 50s when you still enjoy good health - How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost? A specialist can help you get accurate quotes from all the top companies and make professional recommendations. 

Keep Going. Acting Old Leads to Becoming Old

No matter your age, you deserve not to have to rely on others and be able to do the things you love for as long as possible. You have the power to stay active and independent as you age. Start slow, and you will be amazed by how fast you progress.

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About the Author

Jane Stinson is a relocation specialist who has worked with many seniors over the years. Having seen how hard some of them have taken it, she has decided to start blogging about helping seniors, and younger generations, move to their new homes. Jane aims to make the whole experience more comfortable. In her free time, she enjoys reading and gardening.

LTC News Contributor Jane Stinson

Jane Stinson

Contributor since March 26th, 2021

Editor's Note

You may have heard the phrase that aging is a mindset. Although aging is generally a biologically determined process, we can do things to improve our physical well-being and mental well-being. 

We hear things like, "I'm 70 years young!" and "Fifty is the new 40." Aging is part mindset and part action. Maintaining activity and a positive outlook does help us remain healthier and less dependent on others.

However, aging happens, and part of the positive outlook should include preparation. When we are prepared for the future costs and burdens of aging, we will enjoy peace of mind and can concentrate on enjoying life instead of worrying about what declining health, body, and mind can bring to our family and finances. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is a big part of planning. When you own an affordable Long-Term Care Insurance policy, you will have access to your choice of quality care options - including care at home. The guaranteed tax-free benefits will not only safeguard future income and assets from the high costs of long-term health care, but it will give your loved ones the time to be family instead of caregivers. You can avoid dependence and eliminate worry.

Cost of Long-Term Health Care is Expensive

The risk of needing long-term health care is huge once we reach age 65, and care costs continue to grow year after year. While costs do vary depending on where you live, long-term health care can adversely impact income, assets, lifestyle, and legacy - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News.

Solicit Input from a Specialist

Many insurance companies offer long-term health care solutions, and premiums and plans can vary dramatically. Premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. 

An experienced and licensed Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right company and plan. Be sure the specialist works with the major companies and understands policy design, underwriting, and claims - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.

Planning Resources Available on LTC NEWS

You can compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.

The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area. There are also available tax incentives, and see if these tax incentives are helpful - Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.

Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.

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Fund Care or Purchase LTC Coverage with A Reverse Mortgage

If you - or your loved one needs care now, a reverse mortgage could be an answer. Many people today that have much of their savings invested in their home. 

With today's reverse mortgages, you can use the money in your home to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, add retirement income, or even pay for in-home care if you need care now. 

Learn more now - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.

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LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News. You can also help find caregivers and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy or not.

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