By Karen Read, MSN, RN,

As Nurse Educator for Artman and Paul’s Run, I have noticed that women outnumber the men living at both retirement communities. Robert Butler, renowned gerontologist, psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize winning author says more than 31% of 65-year old women can expect to live to age 90 or beyond. He also says that genes account for only 25% of an individual’s health and longevity, while “our environment and personal behaviors account for the rest.”

My greatest wish is, if I have the gift of 90 years, is to continue to be as productive and as vital as possible. So what does this mean for me, a woman, as I age? What things can I do to keep myself as healthy as possible?  The experts seem to agree on a holistic approach to aging, an approach that must include mind, body and spirit.

Here is my checklist:

Exercise: Women who are physically active are less likely to develop adult onset diabetes, now one of the more common chronic health conditions impacting American society. Exercise will all also help women who have diabetes control blood glucose levels. Exercise helps control weight gain, which is a major risk factor toward developing chronic diseases, and helps to reduce stress and decrease depression. Exercise offers a trifecta of beneficial results, positively impacting mind, body and spirit.

Be with other people: Exercise, like walking, can be done with friends and neighbors, giving you the twofold benefit of exercise and social interaction – a double dose of healthy living.

Reinvent yourself: Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the “fear” trap.  Continue to move forward and learn new things, take a new class, explore a new hobby, try a new restaurant. Try and do one new thing, if not daily, weekly! Make “new” your buzz word.  Your brain health and social life will grow.

Eat whole foods: Research shows there are added benefits of including whole foods in your daily diet.  Micronutrients found in vegetables and fruits have shown to have significant health benefits especially for heart, circulatory and digestive health. “A salad a day and an apple a day” might indeed, help to keep the doctor away.  Don’t forget to use the good china and have fresh flowers on the table; making meals enjoyable lifts the spirit and the appetite.

Medication Safety: If you are among the 50% of older Americans taking multiple medications daily, please make sure you are taking them correctly.  Medications are prescribed to improve quality of life or treat medical conditions. Your health provider must be fully informed of any over the counter medications you are taking or any medication you might be prescribed from another practitioner.  Remember, the more medications you take the greater than possibility of side effects. 

Fun: This maybe the most important! Being “young at heart” can have very positive health effects. Playing with your grandchildren or playing with your pets does much to boost the joy hormones. Hugging and hand holding is actually known to reduce blood pressure and laughter also protects the heart.  I say “let the fun begin”.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “beautiful young people are accidents of nature; beautiful old people are works of art.” I want to be a work of art!

For more information about wellness and fitness programs for the older woman, visit Liberty Lutheran’s The Becoming Center.

The Becoming Center is a friendly community health and wellness center located on the campus of Artman in Ambler. Since 1994, the Becoming Center has offered personalized, comprehensive, preventive and restorative holistic wellness for active adults seeking to improve their fitness and overall wellbeing. For nearly two decades we have helped hundreds of individuals achieve their health and wellness goals.

The Becoming Center offers you a variety of services and amenities to suit your individual needs and health objectives including a fully-equipped gym, heated pool, yoga and exercise room, as well as private treatment rooms for alternative therapies and massage. Our professional staff is committed to helping you reach and maintain your wellness goals and will inspire you to strengthen your body, mind, and spirit.


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