Kaiser Permanente stock photo

Healthy habits to adopt as you age

The way we age changes with each successive decade. I recommend adopting these tips and lifestyle goals to maximize your health now while preparing for a better future.

Keep moving

Being fit is important for everyone, at any age, but physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous. Older adults can gain great health benefits from a moderate amount of physical activity, including improved stress tolerance, weight regulation and energy levels.

Start with about 5 to 10 minutes of activity at a time, like gentle walking or stretching, and increase your time as you get more comfortable.

Stay connected

Social contact can make a big difference in how you feel and how well you cope with problems, both large and small. People with strong social networks are often healthier and happier than those with fewer social connections. In addition to spending time with family, keeping in touch with old friends and making new ones is equally rewarding.

As you think about ways to stay connected, consider combining your physical and social health by joining a walking club or taking an exercise class at your local gym. Or get involved in the community by volunteering or joining a club that is specific to your interests. Maintaining positive relationships and engaging with the community around you can make a big difference in your health.

Establish a relationship with a primary care doctor

If you don’t already have a primary care doctor you trust and can easily talk to, find one now. Your personal doctor will be your main advocate and partner who cares for your whole person — mind and body. Your primary care doctor can address most general medical concerns, discuss screening options, and coordinate your medications and specialist visits.

Choose a doctor who has all the tools they need to provide high-quality care. At Kaiser Permanente owned-and-operated practices, primary care providers have teams that include mental health coaches, nurses who specialize in specific conditions (like diabetes), and pharmacists. Ask if there is a way to get care after hours and on weekends, such as 24-hour nurse consultation line or a chat line.

Set aside time to plan prevention at least once a year

In most doctor appointments, we work to solve a symptom (like trouble sleeping or joint pain), things that are top-of-mind and keeping us from being our best selves. At every age, it’s also important to connect with your doctor to strategize how to approach the next year for optimal health, to take a preventive and proactive approach.

During this type of visit (sometimes called a preventive visit, annual wellness visit, or annual physical exam), your doctor and care team work together to assess if there are problems you may not have realized (like high blood pressure) and discuss personal health risks and how to avoid complications. At the conclusion, you and your personal doctor create a personalized report that can be used as a foundation for care over the next year.

Choose a health plan that supports your health as you age

Choose a health plan with benefits that support your total health. If you’re 65 or older, you may be eligible for Medicare. The open enrollment period is an opportunity for anyone who is eligible for Medicare to consider if their current health plan meets their needs. Every year, Medicare open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. If you are turning 65 or had another qualifying life event, such as moving, you can enroll during a special enrollment period. Take advantage of these times to ask about coverage details and compare plans to meet your health needs.

There is a lot to consider. To learn more about Medicare, you can attend a Kaiser Permanente seminar in person or online, call a Kaiser Permanente Medicare specialist at 1-866-949-3143 (TTY 711), 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or visit kp.org/wa/healthnews.

You must reside in the Kaiser Permanente Medicare health plan service area in which you enroll.

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