“Doctor, what do you recommend for healthy aging?”
“My mom is getting older and I want to help her stay healthy. What should we be doing?”
On this site, I usually write about how to manage or avoid specific aging health challenges. But in real life, I often get asked the questions above. After all, many people want advice on how to be healthier, or stay healthy.
That’s because we all intuitively know that maintaining good health is key to maintaining what is most important to us as we age: our ability to be physically and mentally capable, so that we can remain active, engaged in our lives, and as independent as possible.
We also know that poor health can bring on pain and other symptoms, as well as disabilities that can jeopardize how we live our usual lives. In fact, most “aging” problems that seniors and families struggle with — like difficulties with mobility, memory, or independence — track back to underlying health problems.
So it’s good to know how to maintain one’s health as one ages, in order to keep our minds and bodies working well for as long as possible.
Furthermore, healthy aging isn’t just about forestalling aging or disability. It’s also about knowing how to make the best of things even once you do have chronic diseases or chronic disabilities of the mind or body. I call this optimizing health, for better health while aging.
It means optimizing one’s health — and health care — so that the brain and body work at their best for now and for the future. And the beauty of this is that the same key things work, whether you are a “healthy” older person with no particular health problems versus someone who has chronic conditions or even an “uncurable” disabling disease such as Alzheimer’s.
In this series of posts, I’m going to tell you how to do this.
The Healthy Aging Checklist
For the healthiest aging, do this: