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April 15, 2014

Healthy Aging: 10 Tips and Strategies

(By Protégez-Vous in partnership with the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal)

We can’t stop time, of course. But by adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can age well, both physically and mentally. Here are 10 tips to stay fit and happy as long as possible.

Sound advice on healthy aging

Health is the cornerstone of quality of life and well-being, and there are many simple, effective ways to prevent disease and promote health among seniors. The clinicians and researchers at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM) recommend the following common-sense tips for a healthy life.

  1. Do something you enjoy every day.
    Listening to music, brushing your pet and eating chocolate are just some of the ways you can enjoy yourself on a daily basis.
  2. Take 15 minutes a day to relax.
    Find a tranquil spot where you can truly take some time out for yourself.
  3. Eat three meals a day. Don’t underestimate the importance of breakfast. Eggs, cheese, yogurt, ham or peanut butter are great sources of protein to put you on the right track in the morning. Eat a variety of foods at each meal.
  4. Eat with family or friends whenever possible. We generally eat better when we share a meal with others.
  5. Stay active. All forms of exercise are good: walking, swimming, dancing, raking leaves, gardening, washing the car, playing outside with kids, etc. As long as you have fun! The recreation department of most municipalities can also give you information on good places to exercise. Sports centres, community centres and the Kino-Québec program (in French only) are other sources of information. Many clubs offer activities specifically for seniors who wish to remain active. Look for these on the FADOQ network (in French only).
  6. Get your health information from reliable sources. For non-urgent health issues, contact the Info-Santé service at 811 (day or night, weekdays and weekends). When you have a health problem, always start with your family doctor or CLSC. Before your appointment, make a list of your questions.
  7. Take an active role in managing your own health care. Be clear on your expectations, share your concerns, ask questions and offer solutions to the health care professionals treating you. You have key information about your own health, which your doctor needs. Keep a notebook of your symptoms and communicate this information to your doctor as clearly as possible.
  8. Challenge myths about aging, including the belief that memory loss is a normal part of aging. The brochure Faites travailler vos méninges produced by the IUGM in cooperation with the ministère de la Famille et des Aînés outlines ways to exercise your memory skills.
  9. Use memory aids. For example, set up a slate in a strategic location (near the kitchen, by the phone) to jot down calls to make or items to buy. Notes on your calendar or on the fridge are also very helpful, as long as you remember to consult them! Here’s another tip: always keep your keys, glasses, wallet and other standard items at the same place.
  10. Eliminate all hazards from your home to prevent falls. Keep hallways unobstructed, make sure your bathroom is fully accessible (bath seat, bathmat, support bars, etc.) and have adequate lighting in all rooms, especially staircases (nightlights).

To learn more:

Guide pratique de l’aide aux aînés,” Protégez-Vous, August 2011 (In French only)
Les pièges de l’âgisme,” Protégez-Vous, August 2011 (In French only)
Apprendre à vivre longtemps,” Protégez-Vous, August 2011 (In French only)

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