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Journey to a long and healthy life

Journey to a long and healthy life

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A long, healthy, prosperous life is something that almost everyone desires. Persons wish to live long, to experience many of life’s blessings, whether in their career or family life. However, the journey to a long and healthy life starts early in life.{{more}}

Dr Lennox Adams, a local physician, recently reminded retirees of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD), at their Heroes Tea event, that a having a quality life after retirement begins with taking steps way before retirement age.

“If we are to retire and live healthily for the rest of our lives, there must be some ground work laid as you go into youth and middle age; for some of us that’s too late…it’s not too late for those of you coming up. And for those of us who have gone over the bridge, there is still much you can do to ensure a better quality of life,” Adams said.

Adams stated that paying attention to your diet is essential, adding that as you age, your metabolism slows down. He recommended that certain foods, such as those high in carbohydrates, should be used less as you age, while foods such as fruits and vegetables should become a main part of your diet.

The benefits of exercise are numerous, and exercise is proven to reduce the likelihood of certain diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. This was related by Dr Cecil Cyrus during the Ministry of Education’s recent Seminar on Health and Ageing, to celebrate World Heath Day.

A leaflet on health provided by website also states that regular exercise reduces the risk of developing strokes, high blood pressure, some cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. Regular physical activity also helps to control weight, and may help to ease stress, anxiety, and depression.

Studies show that regular exercise reduces depression and anxiety and improves mental health. According to the website, physical activity has an effect on certain neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) and works a bit like an antidepressant medicine. Just after 25 minutes of physical activity, effects on stress levels, energy and mood can start to be felt. A daily physical activity programme may also help someone with depression, because it provides a target or schedule for their day. For mild depression, many doctors believe that physical activity can be as good a treatment as antidepressants or psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Some studies also suggest that even major depression can often be significantly eased by regular physical activity.

Dr Adams advised the IRD retirees to aim for thirty minutes of sustained physical activity at least three times per week to maintain a healthy and fit body. He further encouraged retirees to engage in whole-body exercise and not to focus on one part of the body. states that for persons over the age of 65, some physical activity is better than none. The website recommends that older adults should be active daily, if possible, aim for the same amount of physical activity as younger adults.

Be positive:

According to Unsung Hero and senior citizen Jestina Charles, a positive attitude contributes to an enjoyable life as a senior. Charles, a panelist at the Ministry of Health Ageing and Health seminar, speaking to an audience of seniors, stated that good nutrition, as well as socialization, improves their quality of life.

Charles, who quoted Psalm 92: 12-14, stated that though older persons may not be able to bring forth children, what they say, the fruit of their lips, can affect their life.

Charles added that as humans, and especially seniors, we need each other to survive. She stated that seniors need to socialize to become a part of society and their communities in order to still feel relevant.

“One brain expert said to survive and thrive, individuals need to be finely in tune to their surroundings,” Charles said, adding that social activity can have a therapeutic effect on the body. Socialization, she adds, can help prevent the feeling of loneliness which may lead to depression., a website which provides tips and tools for ageing in place, an article on The Importance of Socialization, written by Shannon Wills, states that socialization for older persons has several benefits.

Not only does socialization give older persons a sense of belonging, but it also contributes to mental health and helps seniors feel relevant.

“The feeling of loneliness and being left out gets stronger as you retire from work life and as your kids grow up and start to live their own lives. Your life changes, and if you’re not able to accept these changes and reorient your life accordingly, you’re going to lose your mind. When you continue to socialize and go out and meet people often, you feel good about yourself and are more confident in your abilities,” Wills stated in the article.

Screening and check ups:

Another important factor in healthy aging is making sure that you are aware of what is going on with your body. Dr Adams urged retirees at IRD to check themselves regularly and not to wait until they are feeling very ill to report an issue to their doctor.

Adams stated that the sooner a disease or cancer is detected, the better it can be treated. He further stated that successful surgery can be done on older persons and often they may say that they are ‘already old’ and so they should be left to die. Adams, however, related that surgery on the elderly is possible and that he had operated successfully on a man over the age of ninety.