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Live Better Past 50 – Eight Essential Habits for a Healthier, Longer Life

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Embracing the 50s and beyond doesn’t mean you should slow down or neglect healthy habits. Instead, this phase provides a unique opportunity to take on activities and self-care routines that not only enrich your experience but also enhance your well-being and longevity.

1. Reduce Loneliness and Boost Social Interaction

As you age, staying social is crucial. The impact of loneliness on mental and physical health can be significant, especially for older adults who might be disconnected due to relocations, physical limitations or death of loved ones.

“Social isolation has been linked to everything from heart disease and diabetes to cognitive decline and more. A recent advisory from the U. S. Surgeon General reports that social disconnection can shorten lives by about as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

2. Keep in Touch with Family and Friends

Physical distance doesn’t have to mean emotional distance. Regular voice and video calls to your family and friends can keep you connected. Organizations such as AARP provide technical assistance tutorials if you need help with the technology.

3. Volunteer

Volunteering is not only a way to contribute but also, it brings immense physical and mental benefits. According to a 2020 study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, older adults volunteering as little as two hours per week can significantly reduce their premature death risks.

4. Embrace Learning

Why not pick up a new hobby? Several organizations offer older adults low-cost classes from woodworking to dance. Apart from improving your social life, these activities can also enhance your cognitive skills.

5. Consider Adopting a Pet

A furry friend can provide companionship and motivate you to stay active. Studies indicate that pets can help older adults maintain cognitive functions. However, it’s essential to pick a pet that aligns with your lifestyle.

6. Regular Hearing and Vision Checks

Annual checkups should also include regular monitoring of your vision and hearing. As we age, these senses can deteriorate, leading to additional health issues. Hearing loss, for instance, can increase the likelihood of developing dementia, while vision loss can elevate your risk of falls and other health problems.

7. Prioritize Hearing Care

If you notice changes in your hearing such as needing to turn up the TV volume or difficulty understanding conversations amidst background noise, don’t ignore these signs. Talk to your primary care provider who can refer you to an appropriate specialist.

8. Regular Eye Exams

Vision loss is common as we age, so regular eye exams every one or two years are fundamental. Protect your vision from age-related conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration.

The 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond can be a beautiful and fulfilling phase of life, ripe with opportunities for personal growth and wellness. By embracing these eight habits, we can strengthen not only our social connections and mental faculties but also our overall physical health, enhancing our golden years’ quality and longevity.

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Understand the Hidden Effects of Melatonin, Health Experts Share 9 Side Effects

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Melatonin is a popular supplement among American adults – with nearly a third using it as a sleep aid. With 88 percent reporting that it helps them fall asleep faster, it’s not hard to understand the appeal. Yet, like all medications and supplements, melatonin can come with its own set of side effects. Weighing potential risks against benefits is crucial. In this article, we discuss 9 potential side effects of melatonin you need to be aware of as pointed out by health experts.

1. Daytime Drowsiness

“Some people experience daytime drowsiness while taking melatonin,” says Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a medical reviewer for NCOA and ABIM. He further explains that the sleep-inducing effects of melatonin can carry over into the next day.

“Melatonin encourages the onset of sleep, but the residual effects can linger into the next day. This can be dangerous if you operate heavy machinery or drive.”

2. Headaches

Headaches represent another potential side effect of melatonin use. Should your headaches persist, it is recommended to cease melatonin usage.

“Melatonin can cause headaches in some people, possibly due to changes in brain chemistry or interactions with other medications. This is more common with higher doses,” says Dr. Dasgupta.

3. Dizziness

While less common, dizziness remains a side effect to be aware of.

“It might be related to blood pressure fluctuations or how melatonin affects your nervous system,” Dasgupta suggests.

4. Mood Swings

Remarkably, melatonin can provoke mood swings, inducing feelings of irritability, depression, or anxiety.

“Melatonin fluctuations can affect some people’s mood, leading them to feel irritable, depressed, or anxious,” Dasgupta remarks.

5. Cognitive Impairment

Rarely, melatonin may cause cognitive impairment leading to confusion or disorientation.

“In rare cases, melatonin may cause temporary confusion or disorientation, especially in older adults,” warns Dr. Dasgupta.

6. Vivid Dreams or Nightmares

With its potent sleep-inducing properties, melatonin can lead to more vivid dreams or nightmares.

“Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone, and changes in its levels may lead to more vivid dreaming,” explains Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, a fitness and nutrition advisor.

7. Changes in Appetite

Taking melatonin can also result in changes in appetite.

“Melatonin may suppress appetite in some people or cause increased hunger in others,” advises Mohr.

8. Stomach Upset

High doses of melatonin can lead to an upset stomach, triggering symptoms such as “nausea, cramps, or heartburn,” says Mohr.

9. Interaction with Other Medications and Supplements

Taking melatonin alongside other medications or supplements can pose a risk, as there may be interactions. “Melatonin may interact with other supplements, such as St. John’s Wort or valerian root,” Mohr indicates.

As we’ve explored, melatonin’s reputation for being a natural and safe sleep aid comes with a few caveats. These are all side effects that you should be mindful of if you decide to use melatonin. Should you notice any of these symptoms, it is advised to consult with a healthcare professional. Remember, while melatonin may assist some people with their sleep challenges, practicing good sleep hygiene should be your first approach before resorting to supplements.

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Discover How Pets Can Improve Your Health in Surprising Ways

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Get ready to explore the unique world of pet ownership and its potential effects on human health. Our furry friends have been known to provide much more than companionship. This listicle will delve into how pets might contribute to our mental and physical well-being. But remember, not everyone’s experience with pets is the same; some benefits might not be experienced by all, and allergies or additional stress could be factors for some. With that in mind, let’s uncover 11 potential health benefits of owning a pet.

1. Possible Allergen Desensitization

Dogs, cats, and other pets bring different allergens into the house through dander, saliva, and bacteria. Interestingly enough, this could potentially desensitize you to these allergens over time. The impact of pets on allergies and asthma seems to depend on the type of pet and the age of the individual.

2. Emotional Well-Being Boost

Your pet companion could possibly uplift your mood! Interacting with pets can sometimes amplify positive feelings, while their mere presence may help reduce negative ones. However, be aware that the anxieties of pet care can sometimes outweigh the benefits.

3. Increased Physical Activity

Having a dog to walk might mean more regular exercise and its health benefits, such as a lower risk of diabetes, dementia, and heart disease. However, this varies from person to person.

4. Strong Emotional Bonds

Many pet owners develop deep attachments to their pets. For some, that bond may help boost self-esteem and alleviate feelings of loneliness.

5. More Social Interactions

Pets, especially dogs, can lead to more social interactions. Whether you’re discussing your turtle’s eating habits or your cat’s latest antics, pets can serve as an ice breaker, promoting numerous health benefits.

6. Stress Reduction

From stroking your pet to maintaining eye contact, these loving interactions can trigger a surge of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress. Even watching videos of animals can add to stress reduction.

7. Lower Blood Pressure

Having a pet might be linked to lower blood pressure, which in turn reduces risks for several health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

8. Better Heart Health

Some studies suggest that owning a dog, in particular, may lower your risk of heart disease and increase your chances of survival after heart-related emergencies.

9. Alleviation of Depression Symptoms

For individuals living with conditions like hearing impairment, HIV, or homelessness, having a pet could help alleviate symptoms of depression. However, research on this aspect is mixed and more is needed.

10. Enhanced Quality of Life for Seniors

For seniors, owning a pet (dogs in particular) can contribute to regular exercise, provide a sense of community, prevent the decrease in quality of life post-retirement, and may even reduce depression and loneliness.

11. Potential Cognitive Benefits

One study suggested that pet owners might have better concentration, memory, and processing speed, equating the cognitive benefits to a reduction in cognitive age by 15 years.

Now that you’ve plunged into the intriguing world of potential pet benefits, it’s important to remember that these are “potential”. The benefits you experience from owning a pet will depend heavily on your specific circumstances and the pet’s specific needs. While pets may provide companionship and numerous health benefits, it’s always wise to consider your current health, lifestyle, potential allergies, and stress levels before adopting a new furry friend.

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Unlock the Healing Power of Laughter for Your Health

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Laughter has long been known as the ‘best medicine’ and scientific research is drawing attention to the impressive health benefits this delightful human tendency bestows. Filled with far-reaching effects, from enhancing our moods to reducing pain, it’s clear that laughter is more than just a joyful pastime. In support of these claims, several healthcare professionals, including Mitali Wadekar, MD, and John Tsilimparis, MFT, shed light on the remarkable, science-backed health components of laughter. Here are five of the most significant benefits you can enjoy from a good belly laugh.

1. Mood Booster

Everyone occasionally needs a pick-me-up and laughing serves as one of the best natural ways to enhance one’s state of mind.

“Laughter increases the production of dopamine, one of the pleasure chemicals in the brain that make us feel good,” notes Los Angeles-based psychotherapist John Tsilimparis.

Besides dopamine, laughter also triggers the release of other critical chemicals, including endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers.

2. Stress Relief

While stress is an inevitable part of life, laughter can alleviate its harsh effects.

“Laughter can not only provide a temporary distraction to our day-to-day life stressors, but is also known to increase the release of endorphins and help relax our muscles,” explains Dr. Wadekar.

Laughter promotes socialization and connection with others, indirectly contributing to reducing stress levels.

3. Heart Health

You may want to start laughing more because it could potentially help prevent a heart attack.

According to Tsilimparis, laughter “increases blood flow, which can help protect against heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.”

Moreover, laughter soothes tension, aids in muscle relaxation, lowers blood pressure, and improves oxygen intake – all crucial factors for proper body functioning.

4. Immune System Booster

Laughing offers a fun and easy way to strengthen your immune system.

“Stress suppresses the immune system… laughter strengthens your immune system by increasing the number of T-cells and antibodies to help fight disease,” Tsilimparis shares.

By improving blood flow and releasing certain neurochemicals, laughter reduces blood pressure and heart rate, all of which contribute to a better functioning immune system.

5. Natural Pain Reducer

Before reaching for the medicine cabinet during your next bout of pain, try laughing. It has an uncanny ability to alleviate physical discomfort.

“Laughter can help relax tensed muscles and even help reduce the perception of pain due to the release of endorphins, which have a natural pain-killer effect,” says Dr. Wadekar.

While laughter offers surprising health benefits, remember that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek guidance from your healthcare provider for any health-related concerns, including medication queries.

As we’ve discovered, good humor isn’t just a lighthearted distraction, it’s a powerhouse for physical and mental wellness. So, whether it’s a joke or a funny movie that gets you chuckling, make sure to infuse laughter into your life; your health will thank you!

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