The idea that “people are living longer” is a common refrain, and one that more or less represents a consistent trend over time. The idea that people are living better and longer, however, is a little bit more modern. Only in the past decade or two have we really started to look at the years past middle age as an exciting new chapter, as opposed to a gradual progression into “old age.”
As a piece on the Chicago Tribune discussed back in 2010, the consensus seems to be that “60 is the new 40.” It’s a number that once struck people as “senior,” but which now seems merely like another stage of adulthood — and one that can be filled with excitement, opportunity, and new things. For things to work out this way however — to truly live well after the age of 60 — there are some proactive steps one should take both approaching and following the milestone.
Take Advantage of Medical Care
We’ll start with the most practical aspect of living well after 60, which is taking advantage of available, federal healthcare. Once you turn 65 in particular — and possibly earlier depending on specific conditions — you’re eligible to enroll in Medicare. This program can be set up in different ways with slightly varying coverage, but overall it’s fairly comprehensive care. A handy breakdown of Medicare variations on Kelsey Care Advantage does a nice job of conveying that hospital visits (under Plan A) and outpatient care (under Plan B) are always covered. Versions of Medicare will also help with prescription costs and medical equipment. But the bottom line is, this is affordable healthcare to enroll in once you’re in your mid-60s, and doing so certainly qualifies as a step toward healthy and happy living as you age.
Figure Out Your Self-Care Routine
Making sure you’re insured for basic medical coverage and health events is vital. It is also important, however, to make sure you have ways of taking care of yourself on more of a day-to-day basis. Indeed, some would argue that establishing a routine to maintain your personal wellness is ultimately the most important aspect of living well as you age. Unlike with Medicare however, there isn’t a sign-up process in this case! Rather, as we conveyed in a post on ‘The Secret to Easy and Affordable Self-Care’, the process is thoroughly individual. It involves everything from finding a nutritious diet you can stick to, to establishing good work/life balance, to finding ways to relax and rest when you need to. But the specific routine is up to you to figure out.
Determine Sustainable Exercise Habits
In addition to working out a total self-care routine, it’s also in your best interest to establish reliable exercise habits. When you’re young, you can exercise in any number of ways. You may try new sports, take classes, vary your cardio routine, and so on — all because you have the time, energy, and physical health to do so. As you grow older though, you may be at least somewhat more limited in your options. In some cases this can lead people to stop exercising regularly altogether. Naturally though, this is detrimental to wellness! To avoid the problem, it’s important to figure out which exercise habits you enjoy that you can sustain past 60 (when those knees might not quite be what they used to be). Whether that means a walking regimen, hopping on a rowing machine in your basement, or playing golf or tennis a few times a week is up to you. The point ultimately, is finding a long-term, sustainable way to maintain physical condition.
Work on Mental Wellbeing
Every bit as important as developing habits to maintain physical health is finding ways to ensure mental wellbeing. To some extent, that’s what living well after the age of 60 all comes down to! But here we’re specifically talking about developing ways to keep your mind clear, keep stress at bay, and maintain alertness. It takes time for most people to figure out a routine that accomplishes these goals. Once you do though, you’ll have a means of working on mental health on a daily basis — which can only be good for your long-term wellbeing.
Read & Learn
Another way to work on mental wellbeing in particular is to develop a habit of reading and learning new things. There is some evidence that such a habit can actually benefit you in a biological sense. Per an article on The Guardian back in 2016, reading books leads to a “survival advantage,” with people who read books for just 30 minutes a day actually living longer on average than those who don’t read. Even setting this evidence aside though, reading can help you to live well as you age. Books represent new knowledge and experience; they keep the mind active; they’re even said to keep memory sharp. All things considered, establishing a reading habit makes for a significant step toward maintaining a strong and capable mind, and living better as a result.
All of these tips amount to processes. Make them all part of your routine though, and you’ll be well on your way to developing a lifestyle that will keep you healthy and happy into your 60s and beyond.
We hope this has been helpful, and that you’ll continue to come to All Ways Well with your wellness needs!
Written by: Amanda Cross
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.