How to make your golden years truly golden

Doc Talk: Q & A with Maija Sanna, MD

As we age, we all experience some decline in our abilities, but there are ways seniors can maintain their quality of life and maximize their independence.

What are some tips?

Staying active both physically and mentally is essential. The best way to stay fit at any age is to keep moving. Incorporate physical activity for 20 to 30 minutes into your daily routine as often as possible.

What about mental activities?

Mental activities are equally important. Do things you enjoy the most and you will stick with them, whether it is reading books, doing crossword puzzles, taking classes or learning new skills. Stay social by having a network of family members or friends to communicate with and pursue leisure activities. Maintaining your independence is easier when you have a wider network of friends and family. Senior centers are also a great resource to help you network with others who have similar interests.

Do I have to be alone to achieve independence?

Being independent does NOT mean being alone. Friends keep us young – and take in our mail or water our plants when we travel. Ask for help. Although it seems counterintuitive, this tip is an important one. Frequently, staying independent means accepting some help, whether by hiring a driver or a full-time caregiver. Life changes may require difficult adjustments, but remember that these changes may keep you functioning as independently, yet safely, as possible.


Volunteering is another excellent way for people to maintain independence and connect with others. Volunteering offers numerous benefits, including the key tips of staying active and social. Helping others also helps you feel better about yourself and improves your well-being. Often, older adults have unique skills and insights that can benefit others -- a win-win situation.

Other tips for maintaining independence?

Here are a few:

  • See your doctor regularly. He or she is your partner in good health.
  • Stay current with age-appropriate health screenings and vaccines to stay healthy.
  • Take your medications as prescribed. If you are having difficulty with any of your medications, notify your doctor. There may be another medication or treatment plan better suited for you.