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Ageing well is an essential part of living a happy and healthy life. It's never too early or late to start thinking about how to age well. Taking care of ourselves can help us live a longer, more fulfilling life.
By investing in regular physical activity and good quality sleep, following a balanced diet, and seeking meaningful connection, we can all maximise and improve our health. This will add life to our years, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Additionally, practicing acceptance, kindness, and focusing on the present moment can help us to navigate the many changes and challenges of life, further protecting our overall wellbeing.
Need some inspiration? Scroll through our tips for ageing well and take what you need!
Ageing well means… staying physically active.
At any age, staying physically active helps to maximise our brain function and improves our overall health.
- Regular aerobic physical activity improves mood and may prevent age-related cognitive decline in older adults who are at an increased risk for dementia.
- Strength exercises help to delay the inevitable reduction in muscle and bone mass that happens as we grow older.
- Balance Exercises - Different systems of the body are involved in balance, which is important for preventing falls as we grow older. So, balance exercises help us to sharpen these systems.
Guidelines recommend 150 - 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, OR 75-150 minutes high- intensity activity per week , as well as strengthening exercises twice a week, and balance exercises three times a week.
Here are some examples of each of these types of exercise.
If the recommended amounts sound like a lot, start small and you will be able to increase as you get stronger.
Here are some tips to keep you motivated to exercise:
- Speak with your doctor before starting to discuss the right type and amount of physical activity for you
- Find activities you enjoy: This will make it more fun and motivates you to continue. Get creative and try something new, preferably outside in nature!
- Find ways to fit physical activity into your day: You are more likely to move if it is convenient for you!
- If you cannot do your preferred amounts in one go, break your physical activity up into smaller parts. It all adds up!
- Make it social: Find an exercise buddy to provide support and help keep you going.
- Keep track of your progress: Make an exercise plan and don't forget to reward yourself with healthy rewards when you reach goals.
- Be kind to yourself: If there's a break in your routine, that's okay - start slowly again and get back to your previous level of activity.
Make the most of the nature on the Maltese Islands by having a look at our online interactive map! Click here!
For more information about physical activity, have a look at our guidelines for older adults. Be Active 65 plus [EN/MT]
Ageing well means… staying mentally active
It's just as important to keep our minds engaged as it is to stay physically active. This can keep us sharp, prevent falls and cognitive loss brought on by ageing.
- Learn a new skill - The brain is stimulated by learning new things. Do you have a skill, art, recipe, instrument, or language you've been wanting to learn? Go for it!
- Play games that challenge your mind - Playing games like bingo or chess, or completing crossword, sudoku, or other puzzles can help sharpen your thinking and boost overall cognitive function.
- Read newspapers, magazines and books - Joining a book club or finding friends to discuss what you read can help you to keep the habit up!
- Stay social - Keeping in touch with family and loved ones and maintaining social connections helps to keep a good spirit and the mind engaged.
- Memorise! - The more you engage in memory tasks, the better!
Ageing Well means… getting regular, good quality sleep
As we get older, many of us have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep. This can leave us feeling tired and irritable. Getting enough, good quality sleep on a regular schedule reduces the risks of developing dementia and other health concerns.
Here are some tips:
- Stick to a schedule for going to sleep every day
- Cut down on day-time napping. If you need your nap, try to take it at the same time each day
- Establish a bed-time routine to help you wind down for sleep
- Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, including noise and temperature
Click here to visit our web-page on sleep
for more more detailed advice on good quality sleep!
If you are struggling to fall asleep or are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, consult your GP.
Ageing well means… following a balanced diet
As we age, our relationship with food changes. We can experience changes in metabolism, digestion, taste and smell. Therefore, our nutritional needs will change. Still, a balanced, varied diet is important for maintaining our energy, and lowering our risk of many health complications related to ageing.
A healthy dietary pattern together with regular physical activity should be recommended; as simultaneously they can help to:
- maintain a healthy weight
- maintain healthy energy levels
- maintain muscle and bone strength
- maintain proper blood-sugar management
- lower blood pressure
- lower risk of cancer
- lower risk of cardiovascular disease
- support brain function
- prevent cognitive decline and conditions like Alzheimer's
- support mood regulation
- reduce the likelihood of anxiety and/or depression
Here are some tips:
- Eat plenty of brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables - Eat at least 400g of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Instead of 'no fats', think 'good fats' - like Omega-3's, which can be found in walnuts, flaxseed, and oily fish like wild salmon.
- Vary your sources of protein instead of relying on red meat - include more fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds.
- Be smart about carbohydrate foods - Choose wholegrains like oats, barley, brown rice and buckwheat, whilst cutting down on sugar and white bread, pasta and rice.
- Reduce refined, highly processed foods with added sugars, salt and fats.
- Eat more foods with dietary fibre.
- Do not forget to top up with plenty of water to avoid dehydration!
Remember to speak with a health professional before making any substantial changes to your diet.
It is very important to seek out help from appropriate sources to help us age well! Visit our other web-pages on nutrition:
For professional nutrition advice, call our Nutrition Helpline on 8007 3307
Ageing well means… staying connected
One of the greatest challenges of ageing is keeping your social network. Staying in touch with other people can prevent you from feeling lonely or anxious, and improves overall well-being.
Here are some tips:
- Connect regularly with family, friends or neighbours when you can.
- Use video-calling or messaging services to contact friends and family who don't live nearby.
- If you find that you are no longer able to do the things you used to do, try to develop new hobbies and interests or think about becoming a volunteer for a purpose that fits your skills.
- Sign up to stay updated about any events being organized by your Local Council, Parish Church, or Active Ageing Centre.
Click here to visit our web-page on social connection for more more detailed advice on staying connected!
Ageing well means… managing change
As we grow older, we experience an increasing number of life changes. There will be periods of both joy and stress. It is important to build resilience and find healthy ways to cope with challenges. This will help you make the most of the good times and keep your perspective when times are tough.
Here are some tips:
- Accept what you can't change
- Acknowledge and express your feelings
- Show gratitude to the people around you
- Practice searching for silver linings to situations and solutions to problems
- Seek humor, laughter, and play to help you stay balanced, joyful and able to transcend difficulties
Click here to learn more about our free Resilience Programme that can help you build the skills you need to better navigate life's stressors!
Ageing well means… staying present
Ageing brings many gifts, and one of them is the ability to slow down, and focus on the things that matter the most.
Mindfulness means to focus our attention on what we are experiencing within and around us at any given moment.
Regular mindfulness has many benefits, including:
- Better general cognition
- Better attention, processing speed, and memory
- Positive effect on immune system
- Better sleep
- Decreased blood pressure
- Improved chronic pain
- Awareness and acceptance of our thoughts, emotions, and the changing nature of our bodies, roles, environments and relationships
- Better emotion management
- Better relationship management
- Better ability to 'bounce back' from stress (i.e. increased resilience)
Here are some tips for mindful ageing:
- Try to focus on one thing at a time and give it your full attention - from speaking to others, to eating, you can do this with any daily task!
- Scan up and down your body and take note of sensations you feel, releasing any tension that you find stored in your muscles.
- Embrace slow walking: Take your time on walks to wake up your sensations, and use all your senses to take it in. Notice the colours and sounds around you, and maybe try to notice something new.
- Express gratitude daily: Whether it is by self-reflection, expressing it to others, or reading gratitude quotes, daily gratitude has positive effects on physical and mental health
- Create a daily ritual: Pick a time of the day to engage in a mindfulness exercise... and then stick to it to create the habit.
At least 10 minutes of mindfulness practice every day can bring many improvements to your life, and could be an important tool for ageing well.
Remember, it is OK when your mind wanders. Simply take note, and bring your attention back to the present moment.
Click here for more information on mindfulness.
Ageing well means… checking in
Make the most of your doctor and schedule in regular check-ups to make sure that you're keeping an eye on your body.
Get regular checks for your:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar level
- Cognitive function
- Mental health
Also, home safety plays an important role in preventing falls. Check your home for inadequate lighting, trip hazards, and uneven or slippery surfaces.
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor to review the medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking.
For professional Mental Health Support, call 1579
Ageing well means… preventing falls
Older people are at an increased risk for falls and associated complications.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults (65 years and older).
These could be due to factors such as:
- tight, inflexible, or weak muscles
- poor posture, endurance, and balance
- the effects of medications
- vitamin D deficiency
- problems with vision
- a loss of sensation in feet
- wrong footwear
- a drop in blood pressure upon standing
- hazards in the home such as poor lighting, trip hazards like loose flooring or rugs and uneven surfaces, or a lack of secured handrails
Risk factors for falls and related injuries can be prevented by implementing interventional measures early and evaluating them often.
Here are specific actions to take to minimize one's risk of falling: .
- Make exercise part of daily routine - Regular, health professional-approved exercise can help counteract decreases in muscle strength and balance.
- Drink enough water – as we age, it is important to keep ourselves hydrated to prevent the dizziness, light-headedness, and reduction in muscle performance that comes with dehydration.
- Stay mentally active – making the right decisions to modify our movements when our environment changes unexpectedly is vital. Participating in mind-body exercises such as yoga or dance have been shown to be effective fall-prevention strategies for older adults.
- Regular visual and hearing checks – Wearing glasses and hearing aids if prescribed can reduce the likelihood of balance issues and falls.
- Medication reviews – Discussing medications with doctors and following instructions, as well as being mindful of their potential side effects is crucial as they may affect balance.
- Conduct a home inventory - have a look at the next page for a quick guide to conducting a home inventory.
Conducting a thorough home inventory is a critical step in preventing falls among older adults. Below are some of the hazards, coupled with solutions to these hazards.
Ageing well means… preventing strokes
A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the normal blood flow to the brain due to a blockage (ischemic stroke) or a rupture of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Without the normal flow of oxygen-rich blood, brain cells can be damaged causing death or disability.
It is vital to be aware of the risk factors for stroke – some of these risk factors cannot be changed such as: age and having a family history of stroke. Strokes can happen at any age but there is a significantly higher risk as we progressively age.
Here are the possible symptoms that can occur during a stroke:
- a sudden weakness on one side of the body,
- sudden confusion
- trouble speaking, or understanding words
- sudden problems seeing or blurry vision
- sudden trouble walking or loss of balance
- sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Remember to call emergency number 112 immediately, and act FAST at the first sign!
Whilst some of the risk-factors for stroke cannot be changed, others can, meaning that we can reduce our risk for stroke by making behavioural changes. These include:
- Making sure our blood pressure is within normal limits.
- Eating a healthy diet based on more fresh produce and minimally processed foods and avoiding or limiting highly processed foods with added sugars, salt and fats
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding tobacco and nicotine
- Avoiding or limiting alcohol consumption
- Managing our distresses