September is Healthy Aging Month and Hope Healthcare Services is here to help highlight the countless positive aspects of getting older. People over 45 account for 38.1 percent of the population of Hendricks County. In this article we will be suggesting ways to stay active and age gracefully using resources here in Hendricks County.

Healthy Aging Month is celebrating over two decades of encouraging local-level thinking to promote taking personal responsibility for one’s health. Whether it’s physically, socially, or mentally, there are steps you can take to transition into your golden years with grace.

The whole philosophy behind National Healthy Aging Month is that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. September is the perfect month to begin your reinvention as many people begin to think about starting new tasks after the summer, perhaps due to a deeply embedded “back-to-school” mentality.

Nobody understands the meaning of this month better than Carolyn Worthington, publisher of Healthy Aging Magazine. 

“Use September as the motivation to take stock of where you’ve been, what you really would like to do if money was no object,” says Worthington. “And try it! Who says you have to do something related to what you studied in school? Who says, you can’t start your own home business later in life, test your physical prowess, or do something wildly different from anything you’ve done before? Only that person you see in the mirror!”

Now that we understand the philosophy behind Healthy Aging Month, let’s explore some ways to effectively observe this yearly event on a local level, here in Hendricks County. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of staying active physically, mentally, and socially.

Let’s Get Physical

Physical health is directly tied to mental health and overall well-being. Staying active can be as simple as walking your dog every day or joining a local pool. There are countless benefits to staying active in our golden years. We’ve outlined some of these benefits below or you can reach out to us for any medical services.

Maintain or Lose Weight

As we age, our metabolism naturally slows down, and maintaining a healthy weight can become a challenge. Even light exercise helps increase metabolism and build muscle mass. This will make it easier to burn calories and lose weight!

Reduce the Impact of Chronic Illness

People who maintain physical activity tend to have improved digestive and immune system function, healthier blood pressure readings, and improved bone density. Regular physical activity has also shown to produce a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.

Enhance Flexibility, Mobility, and Balance

Regular exercise will improve your strength, posture, and flexibility. This will lead to improved balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls. Strength training can even help alleviate the symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis.

Strengthen the Brain and Body

Another added benefit of regular physical activity is improved sleep. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly, sleep more deeply, and wake feeling more energetic and refreshed. Hendricks County’s rate of physical inactivity may be as high as 26%, but there are steps you can take to help lower that statistic.

Physical activity can also help boost your mood and self-confidence. Exercise is a significant stress reliever and the endorphins it produces can help reduce feelings of sadness, depression, and anxiety. Being active and feeling strong will naturally help you feel more self-confident.

The Hendricks County YMCA offers many group fitness classes for older people including waterobics and low-impact cardio. They also offer lifestyle change and chronic disease prevention guidance. The social aspect of group classes can be very beneficial as well, as outlined below.

Click here for more information about the Hendricks County YMCA.

Be a Social Butterfly

Maintaining a healthy social life is one way to stay mentally sharp and engaged as we grow older. We refer to the health of our social relationships as “social wellness” and it refers to the way we tend to our relationships and our ability to foster genuine relationships with others. Below are a few examples of how to flex your social muscles:

Form New Connections

One way to form new connections with people is to choose a leisure activity that you enjoy or have always wanted to try. Use these activities to surround yourself with like-minded people who share the same interests. Whether it’s a dance class, a book club, a bird-watching club, or volunteering for a local charity, getting outside your comfort zone will almost certainly be beneficial to your social well-being.

Keep Important People Close

It will also benefit your social wellness to nurture existing relationships with friends and family that you appreciate. Connections can naturally drift apart with time so measures must be taken to help keep relationships strong. Staying in touch with people in person or over the phone can help deepen your bond and provide opportunities for mutual support.

Ask for Help

Everyone can use a helping hand from time to time. A big part of nurturing your social well-being is to ask others for a hand when you need it. This could mean asking for a ride to the store, help around the house, or a shoulder to lean on when you’re down. Allowing others to care for you is a healthy sign of social well-being.

The Hendricks County Senior center, operated by Hendricks County Senior Services, is a fantastic resource for a number of reasons. They provide opportunities for a wide variety of recreational and educational activities for adults of all ages. This includes many weekly activities, classes, and social events to help seniors improve fitness, combat loneliness, and promote socialization and education.

Click here to learn more about the Hendricks County Senior Center.

Keep That Mind Sharp

The first step towards mental wellness is physical wellness. Along with that, there are ways to keep the mind sharp as we age. The brain, like most parts of the body, will strengthen with increased use and atrophy with limited use. Here are some simple ways that you can keep your mind working:

Continue Your Education

A higher level of education has been linked to better mental function in old age. Experts believe that advanced education may be the key to keeping memory strong by getting the person into a lifelong habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, and volunteering your time are all fantastic ways to keep your mind sharp as you age.

Use All of Your Senses

The more senses you use when learning something new, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining that memory. Have you ever smelled something and instantly been taken back to a specific time in your life? This is no coincidence. Because that scent was tied to a memory, it is much easier to recall the information. Be sure to challenge all of your senses when you venture into unfamiliar territory.

Believe in Yourself

You’re only as old as you feel. Negative stereotypes about people who are aging can lead to negative self-esteem. People who are under the belief that they aren’t in control of their memory function are more likely to experience cognitive decline. If you believe you can improve and you translate that belief into practice, you have an increased chance of keeping your mind sharp. Positivity is a very powerful thing.

It is never too late to reinvent yourself by furthering your education. The Avon Campus of Ivy Tech Community College offers training and degree programs for adults of all ages. Engaging in an adult education class is one way to stay sharp mentally and socially.

Click here to learn more about Ivy Tech’s Avon Campus and the services they offer.

By utilizing some of these simple steps, we can stay sharp and age gracefully. Staying active and engaged in life, both mentally and physically, as well as nurturing social relationships with friends and family is the best gift you can give yourself as you age. 

Thanks to advances in medical technology, many people can expect to live into their 80s and beyond. We have been blessed with the gift of longevity. With this gift comes an increased chance of chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. Following these tips and staying active in all aspects of life will help ensure that your “golden years” are truly golden.

We’ve compiled some frequently asked questions on the importance of healthy aging below:

Why is healthy aging important?

Healthy aging is important because many aspects of life require work to flourish as we age. Staying engaged mentally, physically, and socially will lead to an increase in self-confidence and overall well-being. This also includes a decreased likelihood of contracting chronic diseases. Following these guidelines leads to a much better quality of life for older people.

How do you stay healthy when aging?

You can stay healthy when aging by adopting healthy habits and behaviors, staying involved with friends and your community, making use of preventative services, managing health conditions, and staying physically active. All of these things can help lead to a productive and meaningful life.

How can I stop my body from aging?

The aging process of the human body is unfortunately inevitable. That being said, there are measures you can take to slow or improve the aging process. Staying mentally and physically active as well as staying involved with your social circle can help to cull the negative aspects of aging and allow you to age gracefully.

Hope Healthcare is offering various services in the office and as drive-up services. If you’re struggling to find and afford healthcare, we’re here to help. Take advantage of programs today to start feeling better without overpaying.

This includes our new Refining Grace Counseling service that offers free or low-cost mental health services to those in need through collaboration, compassion, and care. You’re not alone at any age and Hope Healthcare is here to help.

Give Hope Healthcare a call at 317-272-0708 for more information or to book an appointment today. If we do not answer, please leave a message, and we will call you back.

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