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The key to feeling young isn’t buying the latest wrinkle-reducing lotion; it’s to evaluate what’s going on in your body, try to understand those changes and then create a plan of action to stay healthy.
“As we age, our cells aren’t able to function as they did in our younger days. This causes our bones to weaken, our blood vessels to stiffen and our muscles to deteriorate,” said Victor Ukwu, M.D., family medicine physician at Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Haddon Township. “But we can remedy these changes by making the necessary lifestyle adjustments to better support our bodies.”
The Importance of Healthy Aging
It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of aging, but age is just a number. Instead, focus on healthy aging—maintaining a level of functional ability to do the things you value at any point in your life.
“Around the age of 50, we experience changes in our weight, eyesight, hearing and overall health. It can be hard watching your body change, but aging is an inevitable part of life. What’s in your control is what you do to meet the needs of your aging body,” said Dr. Ukwu.
The Mindset for Healthy Aging
The first step toward healthy aging is being proactive, which means keeping up to date with preventive care and screenings as well as communicating any changes in health with your doctor as soon as they happen.
"Think of your body like a car—the longer you have and use your car, the more you wear down the parts. As your car gets older, you may have to take it in for more regular maintenance and when the dashboard lights up, you know something needs your attention immediately,” said Dr. Ukwu. “Getting older isn’t a bad thing. It just means that when your dashboard lights up, you need to take immediate action to keep your parts in optimal condition.”
It’s always a good idea to reach out to your primary care provider if you experience:
- Changes in cognition
- Loss of balance
- Neck or back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory issues
You are the driver of your own life, but remember: When it comes to managing your health, it’s always good to get the advice or help of a professional.
The Approach to Healthy Aging
Sometimes, the hardest part of improving your health is starting. “Before making any big lifestyle changes, educate yourself on what you need. What parts of your body need some extra love?” said Dr. Ukwu. “Once you pinpoint those goals, establish your objectives. How can you better support those areas? Of course, the biggest hurdle is holding yourself accountable to keep up with your plan. You want to find sustainable ways to enforce these habits as you move forward.”
Your healthy aging habits may include:
- Changing your diet
- Finding new ways to stay active
- Focusing on your mental health
- Socializing in new ways
- Identifying new risks (like falling) and incorporating new preventive measures
Don’t be afraid to ask for support from your health care providers. They’re there to help you every step along the way to healthy aging, whether it’s identifying what lifestyle changes to make, helping you set goals or holding you accountable to your health plan.