We know it’s not just about living longer, it’s about living healthily and happily for longer. Follow our top 10 tips for ageing better.
1. Watch what you eat and drink
Having a balanced diet is crucial for good health, energy and preventing illness. An ideal diet should be low in saturated fat, with lots of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, oily fish, and small amounts of low-fat dairy and lean meat. Don’t forget to top-up with lots of water to avoid dehydration, which can make you feel tired and confused. Tea, coffee and fruit juice will also help you to stay hydrated, but avoid sugary fizzy drinks. See our healthy eating guide for lots more information.
If you drink alcohol, keep at least two days per week booze-free to give your liver time to recover from the toxic effects of alcohol, and don’t exceed recommended daily limits for alcohol consumption.
2. Look after your teeth
Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Floss helps to prevent gum disease by removing pieces of food and plaque from between the teeth. If it’s left to build up you might notice sore or bleeding gums, and gum disease can also be linked to diabetes, strokes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Have regular check-ups and, if you wear dentures or have a bridge, ask your dentist to check that they fit properly. Find out more about dental care.
3. Stay active
Daily exercise helps you to stay strong and healthy. This will lower your risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer. If that wasn’t enough, staying active can boost your self-esteem, improve your sleep, and give you more energy. Government guidelines recommend that older adults do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week, as well as strengthening exercises twice a week. If that sounds like a lot, start small and as you get stronger you will be able to work up to those amounts.
Find out more about what exercise might suit you.
4. Make the most of your GP
It’s a good idea to get some routine tests done at the doctors to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High readings increase your risk factor for stroke and heart disease but any problems are completely reversible with medication.
Whilst you’re there, why not ask your doctor about the seasonal flu jab? It’s free once you reach 65, or if you have a health condition that puts you at risk of more serious problems if you caught the flu. Also see our list of 7 health tests that can save your life.
5. Get a vitamin boost
Lots of people have a vitamin D deficiency and don’t know it. In fact, it’s estimated that it affects half of the adult population. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cognitive impairment, bone problems and also cardiovascular disease.
Try to get outside in the sunshine for at least 15-20 minutes a day for a vitamin D boost. It can also be found in food such as eggs and oily fish. Alternatively, talk to your doctor about a vitamin D supplement.
6. Take care of your feet
Look after your feet by applying moisturiser to prevent dry skin and cutting your toenails straight across. Make sure you have footwear that fits properly and supports your feet. If they are sore you may be tempted to stay in slippers, but a pair of trainers could be a good option as they are more supportive.
Contact your GP if your feet become painful, feel very hot or cold or if you have common problems like corns, bunions or ingrown toenails. See our guide to common foot problems.
7. Sort out your sleep
Many of us have trouble getting – or staying – asleep as we get older. This can leave you feeling tired and grumpy. Avoid insomnia by cutting down on daytime naps, establishing a bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time each night. Try a warm drink such as chamomile tea or hot milk before you go to bed.
8. Take the tests
As we age our hearing and eyesight can be affected, so it’s important to get them checked regularly. Hearing loss is common in older people so see your GP if you have to have the TV on loud or having trouble tuning into conversations. If you need a hearing aid, some are available on the NHS.
Have your eyes checked every year if you are aged 70 or over, and every two years if you are under 70. This means that changes in your vision can be corrected and any problems can be picked up before they seriously affect your sight. Eye tests are free if you are over 60.
9. Stay in touch
Spending time with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious. If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to do, try to develop new hobbies and interests or think about becoming a volunteer. Use Skype to make video phone calls to friends and family who don’t live nearby, or find out more about our befriending services.
If you are single, divorced, or bereaved and would like to meet someone, read our online guide to dating.
10. Give up smoking
Smoking is bad for your body and your brain. It is linked to a whole range of different health problems, including heart disease, lung cancer, and bronchitis. The good news is that if you stop smoking, regardless of your age, your circulation, your lung capacity and your energy levels will improve. Find out more here.