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Aging unavoidable, not disabling, health specialist reminds workers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–While aging may be unavoidable, it doesn’t have to be disabling.
“They say, ‘As we age, we get weaker.’ I say, ‘As we age, we stop doing some things that make us strong,’” Branda Polk, health ministries specialist in the discipleship and family adult department of LifeWay Christian Resources, told senior adult ministry leaders attending a session of the National Senior Adult Leadership Summit, March 29-31, in Nashville, Tenn.
“They say, ‘As we age, we lose our balance.’ I say, ‘As we get older, we stop doing things that help us maintain our balance,’” Polk continued.
“We age as quickly as we choose to age. We age because we decide to age.”
The issue for leaders of senior adult ministries is, “How can you take care of yourself and serve God as long as he has called you to serve him?” Polk asked.
“We really are created to live long and fruitful lives,” she said. “The better you care for yourself, the longer you’ll be able to live.”
Polk cited 10 ways Christians can maintain health, beginning with staying “spiritually active and keeping a positive, Christ-centered attitude.”
“In many situations, your attitude may be the only thing you can control. Your attitude and how you respond to the world will either extend your life or kill you,” she said.
Second, she said, people need to take deliberate actions to stay mentally active. She suggested memorizing Scripture.
“Is it a little harder? Probably. Is it worth it? Absolutely!” Polk said.
She cited regular medical checkups as a third key action, noting every person should know the numbers of their blood pressure, total cholesterol level, glucose level and healthy 10-pound weight range.
“Build strong relationships with your family and friends,” Polk listed as the fourth action. “When we develop strong relationships, we don’t feel isolated.”
Fifth, she said, drink at least eight glasses of water daily.
“Did you know your brain is 80 percent water?” Polk asked. “Bodies are 50-75 percent water. As we get older, our bodies begin to dehydrate. If you drink enough water, you skin won’t wrinkle as bad.”
She warned that coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks don’t count because caffeine has a dehydrating effect. “For every glass of tea you drink, you need to drink a glass of water.”
Polk urged as a sixth action staying physically active. Activities should include strength training, muscle-building actions, stretching and walking.
“Walking is one of the best activities you can do,” she said. “You’ve got to walk like you’re in a hurry. But if you can barely walk, barely walk and you’ll see improvements in barely walking.
“It’s very important to stay strong and stay flexible,” Polk said. “Being able to get down on the floor and back up is important. If you fall, then you’re strong enough to get back up.”
Seventh, she said, “choose good nutrition.” Older adults need more antioxidant vitamins that can be obtained by eating five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. A good rule of thumb for daily intake is 20 percent fat and 30 grams of fiber.
Polk said people should make individual decisions about what foods to avoid, based on personal likes and dislikes.
“Personally, I avoid fried foods like the plague. It’s a choice I personally decided to make. But there are some other things I choose to eat in small amounts,” Polk said.
Practice good safety habits, get six to eight hours of sleep each night and be smart in the sun rounded out her list of actions to maintain health.
“As we age, our skin gets thinner. There is nothing we can do about this,” Polk said. She urged protecting skin by wearing brimmed hats and covering hands when outside for extended periods.
“You can make each day better by supplementing and shoring up what you’re already doing to stay healthy,” she said. “When you lose your health, you really do lose a lot of your life.”

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  • Linda Lawson