The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2019 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.
Many people think about getting started on new tasks after the summer, which makes September a great time to celebrate Healthy Aging® Month. Reflecting on our childhood “back to school” memories, Healthy Aging® month encourages people to rejuvenate, engage and adopt positive measures that will improve their physical, social, financial and mental wellness. “It is never too late to develop your path to healthier aging. To get started on your plan, talk to your health care provider. Together you can begin to improve your health and feeling good about yourself,” said Abby Andris, GNP, Sheboygan Internal Medicine Associates, S.C.
Thanks to the many advancements in science and technology, people are living well into their 80s and beyond. While increased longevity can be positive for many, it can also increase risks for developing a chronic disease like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or cancer. “A long life is a gift, but to make the most of that gift, it’s important to attain or maintain healthy lifestyle practices for as long as possible,” said Andris. Carolyn Worthington, author at Healthy Aging® encourages people to make September the month to get motivated, take stock of where you’ve been, where you’d like to be and what you would really like to do. Promoting healthy aging raises awareness and helps people make informed decisions about their health. “How you choose to look at and accept the changes is crucial to your ability to age gracefully. Positive aging allows us to deal with the expected and unexpected changes we experience,” said Andris.
The advantages of adopting an attitude – not just in September, but for a lifetime – for living well and learning how to be as healthy as possible are far reaching. “Aging does not have to adhere to a stereotype or negative aspects in your life. Being pro-active in taking control of your health will give you the best advantage possible for healthy aging,” said Andris.
There is no single factor in achieving a healthy well-being status. Instead healthy aging is dependent upon making good choices about nutrition, exercise staying or becoming socially active, keeping a sharp mind and managing a chronic illness. “People who have a healthy diet, get enough sleep, exercise, learn to alleviate their stress, stay socially connected, continue to learn new things and manage their chronic illness, if they have any, are among my healthiest patients,” said Andris.
No question change is not easy for anyone. But for older adults, the challenge becomes more difficult because there are more changes and transitions that occur including: children moving away, loss of parents and other loved ones, changes to a career or retirement, declining health and loss of independence. It is critical to find ways to stay positive and finding things that are enjoyable. “The changes that occur can cause anxiety and fear but if you stay physically and socially active and feel connected to your community and loved ones you will be better equipped to maintain your balance.”
If the fear and anxiety become too overwhelming for you to manage, Andris urges you to talk to your healthcare provider and ask for help.