In addition to maintaining cognitive health, take additional measures to enhance your mental functioning. Get adequate sleep each night, avoid substance abuse, engage in meaningful work as much as possible, and find your life purpose. It’s well known that regular exercise has a very beneficial effect on our mental health, particularly on our moods.
For optimal mental and physical health, take part in enriching social activities. Isolation is one of the leading causes of depression in older adults. Being around other people, especially if you are doing something fun or rewarding together, helps you maintain a healthy mental state and a positive outlook on life.
To embrace aging on your own terms, be sure to create an advance care plan and designate a healthcare power of attorney who can speak for you about the type of care you desire should you be unable to speak for yourself. Make sure to share your priorities and preferences with your loved ones and your healthcare providers.
By focusing on these five domains, you can optimize your health as you age. It’s never too late to begin your journey to healthy aging. Talk to your doctor to create a plan for healthy aging based on your individual situation.
Jessica Cooper is senior service program coordinator for Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.
VITAL SIGNS This column, which promotes community health, is sponsored by Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, Region Ten Community Services Board, Thomas Jefferson Health District and the University of Virginia Heath System.
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