Tips for aging gracefully

We have all heard of “aging gracefully,” but how do we actually do that? Aging gracefully involves taking an active approach to the aging process. Rather than waiting for aging to take its effect on us, we can make lifestyle choices that postpone or eliminate some of those effects. By taking a proactive role in our own well-being we can age as gracefully as possible.

Keeping our brains healthy is critical to healthy aging. According to Cleveland Clinic, normal cognitive decline starts around age 60, and the most common change is a decrease in the speed of processing information. The Clinic contends that keeping your body healthy is essential to keeping your brain healthy, and it recommends following a Mediterranean-style diet, getting regular exercise and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels.

Maintaining heart health is also essential to healthy aging. Aging naturally causes our heart rate to slow and blood vessels and arteries to stiffen, which can lead to high blood pressure and other problems. To help prevent this, Mayo Clinic recommends getting daily exercise, eating a healthy diet, refraining from smoking and keeping stress levels to a minimum.

Bones and muscles also change during aging. Bones tend to shrink and lose density, and muscles decrease in strength and flexibility. According to Mayo Clinic, maintaining bone and muscle health involves getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, doing daily weight-bearing exercises, eliminating smoking and having no more than two alcoholic drinks per day.

Loss of bone density and natural stiffening of ligaments and tendons can lead to arthritis, which is another common concern among adults. Maintaining joint health can help delay or reduce the effects of arthritis. To keep joints limber, Cleveland Clinic recommends maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise.

Good vision and hearing health can also help reduce the effects of aging. Over time, it becomes harder for eyes to focus, detect contrast and withstand glare. According to Cleveland Clinic, not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight and eating fruits and vegetables helps maintain good eye health.

Aging also causes hearing levels to decrease, making it more difficult to hear high frequencies or to hear clearly in crowded rooms. Mayo Clinic recommends wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect eyes, and using earplugs around loud noises to protect reduce hearing loss.

The reason that most of these recommendations mention maintaining a healthy body weight is because maintaining a healthy body weight becomes harder as we age. Muscle mass naturally decreases and is replaced by body fat, which burns fewer calories than muscle and leads to weight gain. To counteract this, Mayo Clinic recommends regular exercise to maintain muscle, eating a healthy diet and watching portion sizes.

With some extra effort and advance planning, we can take control of the aging process and minimize its natural effects. The key to aging gracefully is a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies are very resilient and it is never too late to take control.

Judith Eugene

Judith Eugene is a native of Cleveland Heights who provides life-enrichment classes and activities for senior adults and those with physical and mental challenges through She can be reached at 216-408-5578 or

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Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 7:12 PM, 05.01.2014