Everyone ages, but we all age differently. The good news: You can turn back the clock for a healthier, better quality of life in your golden years.
See if the solutions to these common problems can help you fake the date:
Can’t find your keys? Can’t remember what your spouse told you yesterday? You don’t have to accept cognitive decline as a normal part of aging. There are steps you can take to prevent or postpone memory loss.
Solution: Moderate physical exercise can help protect the brain as we age, thus helping to delay the development of mild cognitive impairment. A 2011 study in older adults showed that brisk walking can enlarge the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in forming memories.
Even if you’re currently inactive in aerobic activity, you may be able to stop or reverse age-related hippocampus shrinking in just one year.
You can also add a few tasty brain foods to your daily diet to improve your short- and long-term memory. Science shows apples, blueberries, rosemary, salmon, pumpkin seeds, avocado and coconut oil have memory-boosting properties.
Problem: Trouble sleeping
The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that only 35 percent of adults consistently get the amount of sleep they need for optimal health. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to hypertension, heart attack, hormone imbalances, mood disorders and premature death.
Solution: To get better, deeper and less-interrupted sleep, try following these five tips:
- Prepare for sleep with dim lights and relaxing, quiet activities.
- Try a light protein snack to help the brain create melatonin and serotonin.
- Sleep and wake at consistent times to reduce stress and regulate hormones.
- Artificial light can confuse your body. Use blackout curtains, cover digital clocks and use a weak flashlight for bathroom trips.
- Try to be asleep by 10 p.m. Traditional Chinese medicine says the hours between 10 p.m. and midnight are crucial for rejuvenation.
Foods that are natural sleep aids include cherry juice, salmon, beans, walnuts, yogurt and bananas.
Problem: Excessive snoring
More than 90 million adults experience heavy snoring, and half of them have the serious sleep disorder sleep apnea. Not only does snoring disrupt your partner, it’s bad for your health — a new study has found older people with sleep apnea experience cognitive decline a decade sooner than people who don’t have sleep apnea or use a breathing machine to treat it.
Solution: The obvious fixes are nixing smoking, alcohol and sleeping pills. But a less obvious solution is exercise and weight loss.
Many types of snoring occur when the throat muscles are out of shape. Toning the muscles in your arms, legs and abs can help tone the muscles in your throat.
Exercise also helps the body breathe more actively and efficiently, and it leads to another snoring solution: fat loss. Research has shown weight loss contributes to less snoring and can even stop snoring altogether, especially if combined with sleeping on your side and using a decongestant nasal spray.
Problem: Achy joints
Osteoarthritis, often called degenerative joint disease, affects almost 27 million Americans, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. This painful condition occurs when the cartilage on the ends of joints deteriorates.
Solution: Exercise actually helps ease joint pain and stiffness. That’s because inactivity weakens muscles, notably the ones surrounding your joints, causing them greater stress. Not only can moderate exercise improve arthritis symptoms, it increases bone health and can aid in weight maintenance.
Try water exercises. Since water is buoyant, it relieves your joints of body weight. Warm water helps to soothe muscles and tender areas. Because water is naturally resistant, even the simplest movement performed in the pool helps increase muscular strength.
You can also treat arthritis through diet. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods — like nuts, berries, carrots and garlic — to manage your condition.
Problem: Muscle loss
As you age, muscle mass naturally declines. When you’ve lost muscle, the simplest actions become a lot tougher to do — like getting up from the floor, lifting and pulling, and movements that require balance.
Solution: Weight-training is an important piece of an overall exercise routine, especially for older adults. The greater your muscle mass, the more calories you burn at rest, the faster you’ll recover from injury and the lower your risk of premature death.
Plus, when everyday activities are easier, you’ll stay more independent and mobile.