Maintaining an independent lifestyle is a top priority for aging adults, and independence means a lot more than living on your own. It means being able to thrive with a sense of complete freedom. There are a few important things to consider that are required to maintain an independent lifestyle as we age. There are five basic areas that we must consider as we seek to prolong independence for seniors throughout the aging process. 1- Nutrition As we age our nutritional needs change. Understanding these changing needs is vital to maintaining health as we get older. Our bone and muscle mass change, and our risk for developing chronic health conditions increases. Seniors are often deficient in protein and fiber and need to be careful not to consume excessive amounts of sodium or sugar. Heath conditions and medications may present further nutritional restrictions or special needs so be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about what a healthy plate should look like for you. By paying careful attention to nutrition you’ll maintain better physical and mental health and that is a priority in supporting independence. 2- Physical Activity Staying as physically active as possible is key to maintaining health as we age. Regular exercise helps to prevent bone loss, chronic diseases, and cognitive decline. It helps relieve arthritis pain and joint stiffness. It also helps to improve your mood and mental well-being as well as boost your immune system. If maintaining your independence is important to you then you need to make getting enough exercise a top priority. 3- Playtime This is one aspect of maintaining an independent lifestyle that is often overlooked, but it’s an integral part of supporting your emotional, physical, and mental well-being as well as helping maintain your independence. When we take the time to have fun it gives our midbrain neurons a bit of a workout and helps to make connections across our brains, and anything that helps create new connections in our brains is good for brain health, especially in older adults. Incorporating some “playtime” to enjoy things that bring you joy can boost energy levels, release endorphins, relieve stress, and minimize pain, all of which go a long way toward a sense of freedom. 4- Social Interaction This one can sometimes fall in with playtime as well. Many studies over the years have proven over and over that it’s absolutely vital to our health to have social interaction. Social isolation and loneliness place us at a much higher risk of physical and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Maintaining an active social life is associated with improved mood, better health, and better stress management. Social activities can be as simple as a weekly game night with one or two friends, taking a class to learn a new hobby, or going shopping with a friend. If you want to maintain health and true independence you can’t neglect your social life. 5- Exercising Your Brain Studies have shown that one of the best ways to sustain memory and prevent cognitive decline is by exercising your brain with education, puzzles, games, and other thinking challenges. Anything that requires learning new skills helps to keep the brain active and healthy, which helps in prolonging independence. The more a region of the brain is used the harder your body works to that area healthy, forming new neural pathways and connections. So, you can have fun and stimulate brain health at the same time. Evaluate Your Current Lifestyle There really is no fast and easy path to maintaining an independent lifestyle well into your senior years. It really takes a close evaluation of your current lifestyle and making changes as necessary to ensure that you can prolong that sense of independence that we all desire for as long as possible. Sometimes the best place to access the services and support needed to maintain that valued independent lifestyle is a senior living community. At Ashbridge Manor Senior Living we pride ourselves on creating an environment that enables seniors to lead a fulfilling, socially active lifestyle to improve their health and maintain an independent lifestyle. When it’s time to transition to a senior living facility, contact our professional staff members and we can help make it easy. You can find us at 971 E. Lancaster Avenue in Downingtown, PA, call 610.269.8800, or contact us online for more information. Ask us about our move-in special!