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AGING AND LONG-TERM SUPPORT ADMINISTRATION

Long-term Care Planning

Make Healthy Choices for Your Lifestyle

Healthy lifestyle choices can prevent or control many of the nation's leading causes of death. Nearly 40% of deaths in America are linked to smoking, physical inactivity, poor diet, or alcohol abuse.

Are you one of the many people who continue to make some of these or other unhealthy life choices?

There is now more and more strong, scientific evidence that it is never too late for healthy life-style choices to positively, and often greatly, impact your physical, emotional, and mental health.

Below is just a small sampling of the wealth of information, resources, and support available that can help you make healthy choices in your life today.

Make the last quarter of your life active and independent. Commit to taking one small step to making healthy choices in your life today.

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Learn more about the benefits, importance, and the next steps to take in making healthy choices in:

Physical Activity

Older adults are often too inactive. By age 75, one in two women and one in three men get no physical activity at all!

Studies at Stanford University conducted at Veteran's Hospitals among older and out-of-condition veterans, showed that regular, moderate exercise produced surprising improvements in strength, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, balance, and body composition.

The greatest improvements were seen among the vets that were the most out of shape. Changes were both physical and psychological. Improvements in self-confidence, self-image, and physical ability all helped to reduce depression and promote a sense of well-being.

Other studies have shown:

In the long term, most older adults in all age groups hurt their health far more by not exercising than by exercising. As a rule, older people should stay as physically active as they can.

Taking the Next Step

Read positive suggestions for overcoming the top 5 Causes of Inactivity in Seniors from the American College of Sports Medicine. 

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Good Nutrition

A healthy diet means choosing a variety of healthy foods and setting limits on how much and how often you eat less healthy foods. Good nutrition can:

To avoid disease, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend:

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition provides fresh fruit and vegetables to lower income seniors and supports local farming by increasing the use of farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture. Learn more.

Taking the Next Step

Maintaining Social Connections

Social activities serve many purposes. While some activities are purely for enjoyment, being socially active also helps keep the body, mind, and spirit active and alive. In fact, people who remain socially active are less likely to show physical decline as they age.

There are two important things that motivate most people to stay involved in life: interaction with people and contributing to life in some meaningful way.

The Importance of Friends

Friendships have been found to have as positive an effect on healthy aging as keeping physically fit. Friendships help to:

Those who participate in social activities or groups seem to experience protective benefits similar to those who remain physically active. Those who participate in work or volunteer activities and who socialize regularly with friends are less likely to show physical, emotional, and mental decline as they age.

Those who remain active with friends tend to revise the way they define friendship as they age. They no longer require being nearby or face-to-face. Letters, e-mail, and talking on the phone help to support closeness.

More resources

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Volunteering

Community volunteering is one way that many older adults feel they can continue to contribute to life in a meaningful way. Your help is always needed and very much appreciated.

Below are just a few links to get you started.

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Keeping Your Mind Active

According to recent research funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), studies suggest that memory loss is not a normal part of aging and keeping your mind active is the key to maintaining brain function.

Researchers believe that many of the supposed age-related changes which affect the mind, such as memory loss, are actually lifestyle related. It appears to be a package deal. Keeping an active body and social life and reducing stress are also crucial for an active mind.

Improve your Mental Fitness

The brain is like a muscle – it needs regular workouts. Here are a few suggestions.

There are some conditions and situations more common to older adults that can affect brain function including:

See the section below on check ups and prevention.

More Resources

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Important Health Check Ups

The following are three important steps you can take to make sure you stay on top of your health and learn of any problems early.

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