Spring Tune-Up

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is the founder and president of Lianas Services, a Canadian company that assists families and their senior loved ones with retirement home search and transition support.  He is also the host of “Life Unrehearsed”, a weekly radio show on CJAD800 which can be heard every Sunday at 4:00 pm.

There are times when we take better care of our cars than we take care of ourselves.  Spring is the time of year where we typically perform a whole host of maintenance on our cars from putting on our summer tires; getting an oil change; replacing the air filter; perhaps getting a wheel alignment and maybe even replacing the brakes.

Shouldn’t we have the same mindset for ourselves?  This is particularly relevant after one of the toughest winters in many years.  It’s time to put yourself first.  Here’s a checklist of some of the things we could do to improve our physical health and emotional well being as we head into the spring and summer months.

Visit your GP.  Have you had your annual exam?  It’s incredible to think that this is probably one of the most important 30 minutes of your life once a year and yet, many choose to not even bother pursuing an appointment.

Get your blood work done.  Technology has advanced considerably on many blood tests.  A simple PSA test has saved the lives of many Canadian men from prostate cancer.  Blood tests can help with early detection of many types of cancer, diabetes and coronary disease such as high cholesterol.  Blood tests also provide valuable information concerning organ function.

Vision test – when was the last time you had your eyes checked?  Many slips, falls and driving accidents are due to poor vision.

Get physical.  The warmer weather makes it a little easier to perform physical activities.  The key is to go at your pace.  Why not go for a walk or do some gardening?  How about dancing or going for a bike ride?  Simple stretching can do wonders by improving flexibility and balance.  You can also step it up a bit by doing some yoga exercises.  Even the guys are getting into yoga now!  Do what you can – but just do it!!

Keep your mind sharp.  This is perhaps the most important factor in maintaining your health and emotional well being.  Take this time of year to reflect on what you are doing to keep your mind sharp and challenge yourself to increase your cognitive activity.  The old adage “use it or lose it” is quite appropriate.  One of the best ways to improve your brain health is by being social.  The cognitive benefits of those with strong social lives are scientifically proven.  Activities can include outings with friends and family; volunteering; joining a club (e.g. gym, bridge, music, art, seniors, photography) or getting involved with an organization that interests you.  Activities such as reading, crossword puzzles and playing board games are also beneficial.

Review your eating habits and lifestyle choices.  Let’s face it.  You probably don’t need (or don’t want) to make drastic changes.  You are who you are.  However, you owe it to yourself to look in the mirror and do an assessment of your eating and lifestyle choices.  Can something be tweaked or modified?  Consider reducing the amount of red meat you eat; replacing fries for salad; passing on seconds; drinking in moderation; quit smoking… and the list can go on and on.  Start with baby steps and stay disciplined.  You tell it to your kids.  Now you need to listen to yourself.

As we age, we begin to appreciate the finer things in life.  So enjoy it.  Have some fun, reduce your stress levels and take care of yourself.  It’s a mindset that you, your family and your friends will appreciate.

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