Beat the Clock: 6 Ways to Age Well
A new year has started. And if we’re lucky, we’ll all grow a year older and wiser sometime in the next 12 month. If you’re like most, you’ve pledged to do more for your health and well-being this year. In fact, you're probably taking the right steps to ensure that you stay in good health and are able to enjoy your later years. Things like eating right, exercising regularly, getting medical checkups and screenings as recommended by your doctor are all part of being on the right track. But it also makes sense to have some plans already in place for the unexpected bumps in the road that might occur.
- Adapt your home. Stairs, baths, and kitchens can present hazards for older people. Even if you are not planning to make any changes now, complete an annual safety review so you can make necessary updates when the time comes. Or if you are considering a new home, look for property that is on one level or with few stairs.
- Prevent falls. Even short falls are a big deal for older people — they often result in fractures that can lead to disability, further health problems, or even death. Safety precautions and eliminating barriers are important, but so are physical exercises that can improve balance and strength.
- Consider the best housing options. You might consider investigating moving to a retirement community. Some areas have neighborhoods and housing complexes which aren't actually developed specifically to serve seniors, but many new developments are built with a mix of ages in mind. These multi-generational complexes have plenty of coordinated care and support available, so in the end, they are senior-friendly.
- Plan ahead for the additional help you may need. Meal preparation and/or delivery, transportation, home repair, housecleaning, personal care, and help with financial tasks such as paying bills might be arranged if you can afford it, or shared among friends and family. Look in your area for senior services – some may even offer discounts.
- Plan for emergencies. Everyone should have a list of emergency contact? Do you already have someone identified who can check in on you regularly? What would you do if you fell and couldn't reach the phone? Keep emergency numbers near each phone or on speed dial. Carry a cellphone or wear it across your body like a satchel (preferably with large buttons and a bright screen), or consider investing in some type of personal alarm system.
- Write care directives well in advance. A proactive care directive, such as a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and health care proxy, allow you to fully describe the type of medical care you want if you're too sick, confused, or injured to express your wishes. Every adult should have these legally binding documents.
Aging gracefully and wisely is possible when you’ve done your homework. With advanced planning and having the right people in place to help when needed, you can have the peace of mind to live your best life – now!