Johannesburg, 31 May22: It is never too early to start looking after your overall health, and research shows that the earlier one commits to a healthy lifestyle, the greater the benefits in one’s older years.
Healthy ageing has become a major focus for many global health organizations, and for good reason. As the world’s population of older adults increases both in number and in proportion to overall populations, it is becoming more important to explore ways in which people can enjoy their longer lifespans.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines healthy ageing as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.” According to the WHO: Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value.
This includes a person’s ability to:
- meet their basic needs
- learn, grow and make decisions
- be mobile
- build and maintain relationships
- contribute to society
The term “wellness” has come to be applied as a holistic concept which encompasses physical, mental and emotional health. Auria Senior Living, which develops and operates gold-standard senior living communities around South Africa, encourages residents to participate in wellness programmes developed by in-house professionals, and based on global best practice.
“The benefits of staying healthy and living a balanced life as one gets older are well documented. We see the benefits in our residents who have committed to healthy lifestyle choices on a daily basis,” says Barry Kaganson, CEO of Auria Senior Living. “They include better general physical health, the ability to recover from illness or injury faster, and reduced likelihood of chronic disease. These in turn promote continued ability to participate in meaningful activities, leading to increased overall wellbeing.”
According to Kaganson, there are 5 key tips one can follow for healthy ageing, namely:
Being proactive about one’s physical health in the following ways is one of the most powerful things one can do over the course of a lifetime.
Getting enough exercise and physical activity is an important factor at any stage of life, and it is never too late to start. “Aside from the other benefits of physical fitness, the ability to stay agile is crucial as one gets older,” says Kaganson. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head trauma.
Having regular check-ups at the doctor, dentist and any other relevant medical professionals is also advisable. The earlier one can identify a potential problem, the easier it is to address and the less likely it is to have a serious impact on quality of life later on.
Nutrition plays a key role in our physical health. Just as we take care of our children’s diets as they are growing and developing, so we should pay the same attention to our own nutritional needs, which change as we age. “Auria Senior Living provides nutritionally optimal meals for seniors, designed in consultation with an experienced chef. However, for those who still enjoy being in the kitchen, it is relatively easy to educate oneself and cook accordingly,” says Kaganson.
Getting a good night’s sleep is also important at any stage of life, but many older people report having struggles with sleep. Good sleep is frequently tied to good exercise and nutrition, but it can also be promoted by having a consistent sleep routine and getting the correct amount of sleep for one’s age and life stage.
Break unhealthy habits
Many of us develop unhealthy habits over our lifetimes, and these can have lasting negative effects on our health. In our younger years, it may be easy to exercise more to offset a few extra bars of chocolate, and even as we get older it is relatively easy to give up poor dietary choices. However, there are other habits that can have serious health consequences down the line, such as smoking, drinking alcohol and even taking unnecessary medications.
“The sooner one can give up some of these unhealthy habits and replace them with better ones, the sooner improvements in health can be seen,” says Kaganson. “The health benefits people can feel by kicking unhealthy habits are significant, as stopping them removes a great deal of stress placed on the body.”
Maintain mental agility
Mental agility is just as important as physical agility as one ages. Many of us don’t think about this much during the course of careers which can challenge us mentally or even home schedules that keep us busy and planning, but once those demands are removed, the opportunity for mental ‘exercise’ can decrease.
Staying mentally active helps stave off cognitive decline, and it is thought that it may even play a role in reducing the impact of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. There are many ways to stay mentally fit, whether you learn a new language, take up crosswords or Sudoku, develop a new hobby or even stay in touch with your old workplace in a consulting capacity.
Look after your emotional wellbeing
The more our understanding of wellness grows, the more we know how important emotional wellbeing is to overall health. At all stages of life, there are certain things which are known to take an emotional toll on a person. These include stress, anxiety, depression, and a lack of purpose in life. Just as we need to take time to work on our physical health, so we need to take proactive steps to reduce stressors in our lives, get appropriate support when we are struggling, and find ways to reconnect with our deeper selves. This might be through religious or spiritual practices, through therapy, or through something creative such as art.
“Recent research has shown that there are also tangible health benefits to having a strong sense of purpose in life,” says Kaganson. “It is often through such practices that we reconnect with this sense of purpose.” This then translates into better physical and emotional health.
Keep up social contact
Social isolation and loneliness are considered significant health risks in older adults – rivalling smoking, obesity and physical inactivity as a cause of premature death, according to the CDC. Social isolation is also associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia. “Having regular social contact and feeling part of a community are some of the best ways to counteract depression and low mood, and to give people a reason to get up in the mornings,” says Kaganson. This is one of the reasons why senior living communities work so well – because people become part of a community and get to benefit from human contact, whether it be at social events, exercise classes or a hobby circle.
About Auria Senior Living
Auria Senior Living (Auria) develops, owns and manages a portfolio of senior living communities throughout South Africa. Auria is setting a new benchmark in continuing-care community living for the over-70s, providing for the intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs of its residents, in attractive and well-located environments.
Auria Senior Living’s current portfolio includes the award-winning San Sereno in Bryanston; the magnificently revamped Melrose Manor in Melrose; the recently acquired Woodside Village in Rondebosch and two new purpose-built communities which are currently under construction: Royal View, a 122 apartment senior living development on the Royal Johannesburg golf course in Sandringham and Coral Cove, a breath-taking senior living community at Zululami Luxury Coastal Estate on the shores of Sheffield Beach, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast.
For more information on Auria Senior Living visit: www.auria.co.za, or contact 087 654 8833.
Mantis Communications Kerry Simpson
Photo by Anna Shvets: https://www.pexels.com/photo/focused-tennis-player-hitting-ball-5067824/