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It is so true that today there are more centenarians than ever before–and so many of them are doing great–some still working, active in hobbies, still enjoying life and people and experiences. What’s more, many are able to do it in relative good health–which makes everything possible. 50 is midway point on this path to 100. Are you fit and ready to to join the new generation of “Super Seniors?”

Phyllis Dillar the sarcastic and seemingly born elderly comedienne was fond of saying “maybe it’s true that life begins at 50, but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out!” Some of this may apply to you now, and lucky you if not. But whether or not you are “all worn out over 50” you can’t escape the fact that you are getting older. There will be inevitable changes in your body, in your life situations, but, you have the ability to control more of them than you think!

This is exactly the time for you to take stock and take all the right steps to be and stay healthy–to continue to enjoy your life to 100 and beyond, of course!

The Downs and Ups

Imagine this. You arrive at the pearly gates, and truth be told, you may have made some unhealthy lifestyle choices along the way, and some healthy ones too. But you get sent back to the time you are 50. What would you change? What would you do differently? You can bet you would do anything you could, given such a miraculous second chance! Do not wait for that unlikely scenario. Listen to that inner voice now, that is telling you to take better care of your physical, emotional, and mental health! You want to lower your risk of health problems in every way you can. There are certainly steps you can take to improve your health even, and especially, after the age of 50.

Healthy Eating

You are what you eat, is more than a popular idiom. Those extra desserts and donuts can put on the belly fat quicker nowadays than when you were 16. This is the time to pay attention to good nutrition. You know the routine–limit foods high in the bad fats but do have those healthy omega 3 fats in the fish, and the olive oils. Eat your many servings of colorful fruits and vegetables especially those cruciferous veggies. Have your lean proteins. Have your whole grains. Have your fiber. You may want to talk to your health care provider about any need for nutritional supplements, vitamins or minerals. Limit sugar. Absolutely avoid processed meat with nitrate preservatives. Limit alcohol.

Healthy Exercise and Activity

For best health get at least 30-60 minutes of some type of physical activity several days of the week. You can include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, weight lifting, any type of sports. Exercise will also keep your energy level going–that’s right, rather than depleting your energy. And as the tendency for waist measurements to increase happens, keep the exercise going to work on your body shape–walk stairs instead of using the elevator. Park a farther distance from front entrances.

Mind activities: Keep your mind challenged to keep your brain functioning. Your brain of course is a most (ha!) important part of your overall health.

Interests: Participate in a hobby that interests you, learn more about something, keep in touch with family and friends. That helps to keep your emotional health in tone.

Maintain a healthy weight: You heard it of course, that your metabolism slows down as you age. Which means that it gets harder to keep your weight in check. Also, it is more difficult to keep your lean muscle which has a tendency to be more easily replaced with fat. So, practice the before mentioned healthy eating and healthy exercise daily.

Avoid Smoking completely: Don’t smoke, quit if you do. If you smoke, quitting has been determined as the single best thing you can do for your health.

Sleep: Your hours of sleep, and sleeping patterns can and do change as you get older, but good sleep is always a requirement to repair and replenish your body for your health. If you think you are having trouble sleeping, if you feel fatigued or more tired than usual during your days, can’t keep awake, this is the time to urgently find a solution to what is causing that problem. Getting too little sleep increases your risk for many health problems. Sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can be disasters for your health if you are one of many who have this problem. Do speak to our health providers.

Reduce stress: Studies show that stress increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, and can speed up the aging process. Take steps to reduce stress with a program of counseling, yoga, or other means.

General health concerns: This is a listing of general health concerns that can increase with age: pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, cancer, vision problems, chronic pain including arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and back pain, depression, digestive issues, erectile dysfunction, hair loss, hearing loss, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, menopause, prostate issues, thyroid problems.

You don’t have to feel bogged down with worrying over all these potential health pitfalls, just make sure you have your medical exams, routine tests and screenings, and talk to your health providers–doctors, dentists, honestly about yourself.

Routine health care for the 50s

Recommended health care includes:

  • Physical exam or check up at least every 2 years
  • Height, weight and BMI calculation
  • Blood tests
  • Urinalysis
  • Mental health screening
  • Dental exam and cleaning every 6 months to 1 year
  • Eye exam every 2 years
  • Blood pressure screening every year or as recommended more if you have hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease
  • Cholesterol screening every 5 years or as recommended
  • Diabetes screening as recommended
  • Skin exam to determine skin cancer risk as recommended
  • EKG
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Immunizations_ flu vaccine, tetanus booster every 10 years, whooping cough, pneumococcal and hepatitis vaccines as recommended

For women annual breast exam, pelvic exam and mammogram, pap test, hpv test and bone density as recommended, for men testicular exam as recommended, prostate cancer screening as recommended

The Aging Signs

Everyone associates aging with wrinkles and gray hair, but the more important effects are not so visible.

Your heart rate becomes a little slower as you age and your heart might become bigger. Blood vessels and arteries tend to become stiffer which causes the heart to work harder to pump blood through them. Keep your heart healthy with diet and exercise, don’t smoke, reduce stress, get your quality sleep.

Bones and joins tend to shrink in size and density and that causes some weakness and makes them more easily fractured.

Muscles can lose strength and flexibility, some coordination. Keep up your calcium intake for your bones. Even for men, that includes dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, salmon, sardines, soy products or supplements.

Physical activity keeps up your bone strength especially weight bearing exercises. Even going up your stairs is great.

Sometimes bladder conditions and constipation can set in with aging. Eat your fiber rich foods, drink plenty of water and other fluids.

Eyes and ears may take some steps down as eyes may become more sensitive to glare, and adapting to different types of lighting, the eye lens can become clouded. Hearing can have some adjustments including difficulty to hear high frequencies.

Teeth and gums can have receded from the teeth, and may become more vulnerable to decay and infection. Be sure to keep good dental health up with brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental checkups.

Skin becomes less elastic, thinner more fragile with a decreasing of fatty issue just underneath the skin. This can contribute to bruising more easily, drier skin, wrinkles, age spots and skin tags. Use sunscreen outdoors and check your skin regularly.

Vitamin D is recommended for adults as you age, and if you don’t get good sunlight, good sources are oily fish, egg yolks, milk.

It’s never too late. They call 50 the golden age, and maybe it is a golden age for adopting a healthy lifestyle, even better than what you were doing before to minimize the impact of aging. Wouldn’t you like to have a comeback to people with an “I’m not old, I’m a recycled teenager!” quip?

Sleep Issues Over 50

It seems to happen–nodding out through what used to be some favorite TV watching times, waking up really early with trouble falling back asleep, getting up seemingly endless times during the night. In a Gallup study of Americans 50 and older, 24% said they had a sleep problem.

old man with jaw pain

The brain does go through some changes as you age, and in the 50s or 60s the brain produces lessening amounts of melatonin–the hormone that regulates sleep at night and alertness during the day. So, what can happen is the sleep patterns shift as you might fall sleep after dinner on the couch at 8:00 and then wake up earlier like 3 or 4 AM.

But many doctors agree that some fragmented sleep as you get older is natural but quite a lot does have to do with other medical issues. And much of those issues can be improved by taking care of the conditions that can contribute to poor sleep.

Sleep apnea is a condition many older adults are more susceptible to. So, if you find yourself saying to yourself, “I’m sleepy all the time, I fall asleep at the movies…” there may be some medical condition for you to take care of. Do speak with your doctor or dentist about. Don’t let a sleep problem affect your daily life.

Some over 50 year olds might be chanting something like the cat in the hat did on aging–went like this:

I cannot see, I cannot pee

I cannot chew, I cannot screw, Oh my God, what can I do?

My memory shrinks, My hearing stinks, No sense of smell, I look like hell

My mood is bad, Can you tell?

My body’s drooping, Have trouble pooping

The golden years have come at last

The golden years can kiss my ass.

But with some attention to yourself now, help yourself to the best health protections and health risk preventions, so you can make your Golden Years as golden as possible.

Tips and Takeaways

  • Aging is inevitable, but you can age well
  • People over 50 are more susceptible to sleep apnea
  • A good diet and regular exercise are more important after age 50
  • How well you age, is up to you!

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