The hard work required to be healthy in midlife and beyond includes adhering to a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. Local physician William M. Healy, MD, says, “Individuals can look to some specific strategies to help maintain their physical and mental well-being,” and offers the following advice.

Get a pet. Many people ages 50 and older qualify as “empty nesters,” a term applied to adults whose children have grown up and moved out of their homes. Some empty nesters experience a phenomenon known as “empty nest syndrome,” which the Mayo Clinic notes can be marked by feelings of sadness or loss. Pets can help people over 50 with no children at home overcome feelings linked to empty nest syndrome. In 2018, the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging found that 86 percent of pet owners felt their pets make them feel loved while 73 percent said their pets provided a sense of purpose. Pets also can ensure individuals over 50 stay physically active and provide opportunities to connect with other people.

Prioritize learning. Whether it’s taking music lessons, going back to school, or mastering a new hobby, learning has a profound effect on aging brains. For example, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that memory function is improved by engagement in demanding everyday tasks. The study found that people who learned new skills experienced greater memory improvement than people who only socialized or participated in activities that were not as cognitively engaging.

Work on maintaining and improving your balance. Various factors contribute to a decline in balance as adults age. For example, a decline in muscle mass that begins when people are in their 30s is a normal part of aging. Over time, that natural decline affects strength and agility. Balance exercises can be a valuable component of a fitness regimen that help individuals reduce their risk for falling as they advance through their 50s and into their 60s and 70s. That’s a significant benefit, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one out of every three adults ages 65 and older experiences a fall each year, and as many as 30 percent of those falls lead to serious injury.

Embrace your inner socialite. Socialization is important for people of all ages, including individuals ages 50 and over. A 2017 study from researchers at Michigan State University found that valuing friendships was a strong predictor of health and happiness among older adults. Opportunities to socialize with friends may increase as people navigate their 50s and children move out or become more independent. Individuals should take advantage of opportunities to socialize whenever possible.

Various strategies can help people maintain mental and physical wellness as they make their way through their 50s and beyond. 

William M. Healy, MD is a physician who specializes in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics. He is located at 2235 Millersport Hwy #100, Getzville, NY 14068. To make an appointment with Dr. Healey call 716-204-5933, and visit his website at WilliamHealyMD