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7 ways to maintain your independence as you head into your 70s

7 ways to maintain your independence as you head into your 70s
Date published: 12 September 2022 Author: Izzi Parsonage Categories:

One of the frustrating things about getting older is the realisation that you may no longer be able to do all the things you once could. Physical activities may become harder and energy level may wane. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up your dancing shoes. 

It’s never too late to try out new things, foster new interests and meet new people. And it’s never too late to make a few changes to your daily routines to give you the best possible chance of retaining your independence for longer. 

After all, it’s not just about living longer, it’s about living healthily and happily for longer.

 

1.    Try to walk more 

If the idea of a full-on workout sounds like too much of a stretch, the good news is that simply getting more steps into your day can have a positive impact on your health, wellbeing and life expectancy. From lowering blood pressure, blood glucose levels and the risk of heart disease to improving bone density and maintaining flexibility, it may seem like a simple activity, but walking truly has many benefits.

And you don’t even have to walk as far as you might think. We’ve all heard that we should be doing 10,000 steps a day, but did you know that actually came from a marketing campaign for pedometers and has very little basis in science? The real number of steps you should be doing will depend on your age and your health. In fact, one study found that for older women, there was benefit associated with doing just 4,400 steps per day.

Of course, if you’ve been used to a more sedentary lifestyle, you’re suffering from chronic disease or you’re recovering from an illness or injury, it may be difficult to imagine achieving this number. In that case, do whatever you can and build up over time. Start by walking little and often – try 5 or 10 minutes here and there, and see how it goes. Why not wear a step counter or smart watch? You might be surprised by how many steps you’re already doing during your normal daily activities. And you might feel inspired to set yourself an achievable goal each day. 

If you’re not confident walking on your own, why not join a walking club or ask a friend or family member to join you? At Promedica24, our live-in carers are on hand 24-7 to support people with exactly this sort of thing. 

 

2.    Keep an eye on your diet 

As we get older, the types of foods we need to keep us fit and healthy will change. Try to include plenty of fruit and veg, particularly those high in vitamin K which is good to help preserve and improve bone density. Dairy products, too, can be part of a balanced diet, helping to protect your bones and lower the risk of osteoarthritis.

In general, we tend to slow down and become more sedentary as we age, which means we process fewer calories. It’s important to take this into account when deciding on portion size. Many older adults prefer to eat little and often, finding this keeps them more comfortable and able to enjoy a greater range of foods. 

If you struggle to shop for or cook proper meals for yourself – perhaps you live alone or are no longer able to move around so well – there are other options that are worth considering. Perhaps a family member or friend could box up leftover portions of their family meals to put in your freezer. Or consider investigating local ‘meals on wheels’ type services. Or, if you have a live-in carer, this is something they can support you with.

 

3.    Keep your brain tip top

When we’re working every day, our brain tends to get a pretty good work out. Depending on the job we do, we’ll have to make decisions, navigate difficult situations, learn and recall facts and figures and communicate information in a format that suits our audience. All this activity helps to stimulate and maintain the cells and keep them sharp.

When we stop working, perhaps as we get older and choose to retire, we sometimes stop using our brain so much at the same time. Take some time each day to check in with your grey matter and give it a little mental workout. Try listening and engaging with a quiz on the radio, pick up a puzzle book and do a crossword or sudoku or make it a habit to try the daily Wordle (if you haven’t already!).

And if you want an extra boost, add some nuts, pulses and berries to your diet. These will help to protect your brain function, preserve your memory and thinking skills and maintain your brain health as you age.  

 

4.    Beating loneliness 

Loneliness can have a real and lasting impact on both our physical and mental wellbeing. And it’s something we’re seeing more and more over the last couple of years, since the Covid-19 pandemic began. In fact, in the 20/21 the government’s community life survey into wellbeing and loneliness found that 6% of respondents – that’s approximately 3 million people in England – said they felt lonely often or always. So what can we do? 

If you have family or friends who live away and are unable to see you as much as you’d like, consider learning to use Skype or FaceTime to video call them. It’s a lot more beneficial than talking on the phone as you’ll be able to see their face and interact in a more realistic way.

If you’re physically and financially able why not consider a pet? Of course consideration should be given to the size and type of animal you choose, but there are many benefits to having an animal companion in your home. And try to get out and enjoy a social activity each week if you can – see points 5 and 6 below.

Another alternative is companion care. A live-in carer means you’ve always got someone on hand, both to support you with day-to-day life and also to just be there for a chat when you feel like it.

 

5.    Find a new interest

There’s a common saying, ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, but we like to think that doesn’t have to be the case. A new interest doesn’t have to be a hobby that requires you to devote hours to learning and practising. It could be attending a regular coffee morning with a group of like-minded people in your community. Or going along to a talk at a local art gallery or museum. The possibilities are endless.

And finding a new interest won’t just give you something to focus on and look forward to. Adding some structure or routine into your days can be beneficial for your mental health too.

At Promedica24 we think it’s really important to keep the brain active, engaged and finding new learning and creative opportunities. That’s why we’ve paid for every carer and client to have their own Mirthy account. This means that even if you are not able to get out and enjoy in-person social or physical activities you can spend some time exploring,  discovering new things and connecting with others online.

 

6.    Get a change of scene

Do you love eating fish and chips by the sea? Do you miss the feeling of cruising down a mountain pass road taking in that spectacular scenery? Getting out and about and rediscovering some of the places you used to love is a wonderful way to bring back a spark to life.

Staying within four walls can be incredibly isolating and can make our world feel like it has become very small. Get out and about and enjoy a change of scene, even if you simply sit on a local park bench and watch the world go by for half an hour. It really can’t be overstated how much benefit your brain and body will get from simply breathing a few lungs full of fresh air, lowering the stress levels and seeing something different.  

If mobility is a challenge and you find it hard to get around, consider asking someone to go with you. This might be a friend or family member, a live-in carer, community or other group. Or take a look at Promedica24 partners Driving Miss Daisy?

 

7.    Live-in care or companionship

If you’re increasingly finding yourself struggling to do things around the home, whether that’s finding the energy for the household chores or taking care of your personal needs like washing and bathing, you may be thinking about whether some kind of care could be an option. But perhaps you’re worried about losing your independence?

If you want to stay at home and continue to enjoy life as you know it, domiciliary care or live-in care can give you the best of both worlds. You’ll get to stay in familiar surroundings, where family and friends can continue to visit you, and you’ll remain a part of your local community. But you’ll also have the help and support you need to feel safe and secure to continue enjoying life and experiencing new things. 

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