Today, people are living longer than ever before. According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide population of people 60 years and older is expected to add up to 2 billion by 2050. As the population continues to live for longer periods, a longer life expectancy brings with it a batch of new opportunities for older people and their families. However, there is little evidence to suggest that older people today are healthier than their parents and grandparents. And if the years added to one’s life expectancy result in dramatic declines in overall health, it can hurt not only the elderly but society as a whole.

Now is the perfect time to think about your health and lifestyle. It’s never too late to change up your habits—regardless of your age. Whether you’re young or old, putting in the effort to prioritize your health can help you continue to age gracefully throughout the rest of your life. Here are three essential tips that will help you on your journey to better health and wellness as you age.

Wear Sunscreen

We’ve all heard about how important it is to wear sunscreen on a sunny day to avoid getting burnt or damaging our skin. However, it’s also essential to apply sunscreen every day you go outside, as it can help prevent early signs of aging such as sagging, wrinkles, and age spots. This is because sunscreen reduces your overall UV exposure, lowering your risk of sun damage, including skin cancer.

On top of simply applying sunscreen, you should also consider following other sun-protection tips, including the following:

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays cause sunburn, while UVA rays cause tanning and premature aging.
  • Look for sunscreen with at least SPF 15 for daily activities, occasional exposure, and sunscreen with at least SPF 30 for extended outdoor activities or work in the sun.
  • Find water-resistant sunscreen for swimming or intense exercise.
  • Apply sunscreen even when it’s cloudy, as up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation still reaches the earth on an overcast day.
  • Seek shaded areas as much as possible.
  • Wear clothing that will help you cover up from the sun, like long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses.

If you need to find the right sunscreen for you, consider using an online tool like this one that provides recommendations based on your needs.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is essential to your body’s overall health. Not only does it provide you with the time your body needs to restore your energy after a long day, but it can also improve cognitive functioning, thinking, and memory. A good night of sleep can do more than provide a boost to our energy levels—it can also strengthen our immune system and regulate our hormones, allowing the body to function well throughout the next day.

According to Harvard Health, “a good night’s sleep is good for our brain, especially as we get older.” The different stages of sleep are associated with learning, memory, and other cognitive functions. For example, stage 2 of sleep can help promote the motor skill learning you would need to learn an instrument. If you are experiencing difficulty sleeping due to a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or insomnia, or otherwise, be sure to consult your dentist specializing in airway. They will be able to screen for and treat these conditions.

Great sleep is even more critical as we age. According to sleep experts, you can improve your sleep hygiene and get better sleep by practicing the following behaviors:

  • Go to bed and get up around the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Make a positive sleep environment for yourself, fit with a comfortable bed, darkness, quiet, a cool temperature, and warm blankets.
  • Only use your bed for sleep and sex. Avoid doing work or other stimulating activities in bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine for at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Create a bedtime routine to prepare for sleep. Consider doing yoga, practicing meditation, or winding down with a hot bath before bedtime.

After practicing these habits for a couple of weeks, you may start to notice your sleep quality improve as well as your cognitive functioning.

Reduce Stress

Stress is a normal part of any stage of life; however, excessive and constant stress can speed up aging and impact everyday functioning. According to one study from the Handbook of Mental Health and Aging, older adults are also at a higher risk of developing mental health problems like stress and anxiety. While risk factors for adverse outcomes like stress can impact one’s ability to function in their daily life, positive psychological traits like social support and resilience can protect adults from poorer mental health as they age.

Even so, telling someone to reduce their stress levels is a lot easier than accomplishing it, so here are a few ways to relieve stress that may help:

  • Engage in physical activity regularly, as exercise can improve your physical health, improve your mood, and release endorphins that will reduce stress.
  • Join a support group or consider going to therapy for anything that may be bothering you.
  • Consider getting a pet. Several studies show that owning a pet can lower stress levels.
  • Tailor treatment based on what works for you. If you find that something isn’t working, consider trying something new to manage your stress levels.

Reducing stress may be challenging, but it will be worth it in the long run. If you can develop positive coping mechanisms to deal with the pressures of life, you’ll likely be able to reap the benefits of better mental health for the rest of your life.

Aging is a natural part of life. With people living longer than ever before, it’s more important to prioritize your health and overall wellbeing as early as possible. By building healthy habits early on in your life—like wearing sunscreen, prioritizing sleep, and managing your stress levels—you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle as you get older.