Tips For Long, Happy, And Healthy Living For Seniors
Experiencing a number of changes in how our body behaves is a natural part of getting older. And changes in the realm of the physical are also closely associated with changes in our mental, emotional and social behavior. You may regard some of these changes as positive ones, while others may cause different degrees of distress to you (depending on the individual concerned). So, the trick here is to make the most of everything that you see as the benefits of getting old while keeping the adverse effects of aging to a minimum.
Common safe Bodily Changes
To cite some examples of aging in the physical realm only, an aging individual may expect to undergo these common bodily changes:
Weakened bones. As we age, our bones tend to lose mass and lower bone mass means our bones tend to become more brittle and thinner, thus making us vulnerable to broken bones (if we fall or experience some other injury).
Conditions like coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, or arteriosclerosis that lead to higher blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attack.
Slowing down of the digestive tract. This can lead to stomach pain, constipation, feeling of occasional dizziness and nausea. Some medications prescribed to treat other conditions may also lead to constipation problems.
According to CDC, our ability to multitask or process new information may also slow down to a degree as we start to get older. Slight forgetfulness and confusion or minor memory problems are also common side effects of aging. (If these, however, start to appear more serious than normal, one should check with a medical professional.)
Our sensestaste, smell, vision, hearing, and touchalso get affected as we age. Hearing and vision problems are common enough among older individuals. Many, however, also suffer from a weakened sense of smell and taste as well as reduced sensitivity to touch, vibration, pressure, and pain.
Other common health problems related to aging include decaying teeth and gums, wrinkled and sagging skin (as the latter loses its elasticity). And finally, older individuals will also commonly experience various changes vis--vis their sexual lives and sex drive. Some common causes include erectile dysfunction in men, a drop in estrogen levels in women, etc.
But Have No Fear
There is no reason to feel concerned over the information cited above. We list them only to make our readers aware of whats normal and whats to expect as they approach an advanced age. And as long as we follow proper health and lifestyle habits as seniors, we can, for a large part, offset the negative aspects of aging and live to that ripe old age in a happy, healthy and fulfilling manner.
Tips for Living a Long, Happy, and Healthy Life
Eating Proper and Eating Well
Once we get older, our body requires as many nutrients as before but fewer calories. As such, you must plan a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods that pack a lot of minerals, vitamins and other essential nutrients in a comparatively smaller number of calories. So, were talking about whole-grain foods, such as brown rice, whole-grain bread, legumes, oatmeal, and the like; fruits and vegetables; nuts, seeds, olive oil, peas and beans (if youre not allergic to any of them). In addition, drink beverages that are rich in calcium and vitamin D.
As for foods you should try your best to stay away from include full fat dairy products, high-calorie red meat as well as processed foods. These days, its difficult to stay away from processed foods altogether, especially if youre living alone and do your own cooking. However, even if you use processed foods, check closely the Nutrition Facts label on them. Basically, you should avoid all foods with added sugars (sweetened beverages, canned fruits and the like), foods high in sodium (salt) content and those that come with solid fats (lard, margarine, butter and more).
If you are a fan of non-veg dishes, we recommend that you keep your diet limited to poultry and eggs, lean meats and seafood. Following a healthy and well-proportioned diet will help you avoid many of the common diseases of aging (including some of those mentioned above) such as heart problems, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, Alzheimers disease and certain types of cancer. Eating well and properly also means you keep obesity in check. Consuming more calories than your body requires will lead to the problem of being overweight, which in turn may result in many of the diseases weve mentioned right now.
We strongly recommend that you check with your physician or a certified dietician as to obtain proper advice regarding the kind of diet you should follow. And finally, when it comes to eating, necessary as it is eat healthy, it is just as important that you like and enjoy what you are eating. It may need some experimentation on your part (so much the better in fact, since it will keep your mind alert and youll enjoy the process), but with some effort, you are sure to strike a balance between healthy and delicious.
Staying Physically Active
Regular physical activity improves strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance and this applies to all individualsold or young. In addition, they often contribute to improvements in mood (through reduced feelings of stress, depression or anxiety) as also to better cognitive functioning. Specialists in CDC recommend aerobic activity for older individuals. If you choose moderate-intensity exercises, aim for 150 minutes a week (ideally spread over 3-5 days) or you may, if your body permits, opt for 75 minute-a-week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise. Also called endurance or cardio training, aerobic exercises activate our large muscle groups (read legs, chest and back) and help speed up and regulate our breathing and heart rate.
Take note, however, that you do not necessarily need to stick to any particular round of items. As with eating, try to go for something you enjoy doing (bike ride, brisk walks, gardening, housework, cooking). You may also consider activities such as chair or water aerobics, tai chi or yoga lessons and the like. Many senior or community centers arrange these classes for older adults, so make sure to keep an eye out for them.
Stay Active Socially and Emotionally
It is not for nothing that we stressed the importance of enjoying what you eat or what you do to keep yourself physically active. Our emotional health is closely related to our physical well-being. In most individuals, higher levels of social activity translate to fewer negative feelings, more positive mood,s and an overall positive outlook on life in general.
Of course, for many of us, as we get older, social circles we move in tend to narrow down as well. All the same, there are still many avenues that seniors can actively explore to maintain a healthy social life. Most important of all, one should try to stay in close contact with his or her immediate family and intimate friends. Internet and social media of today come quite handy in this regard. But also make sure to stay in touch by other, more direct methods (such as making phone conversations, sending cards and gifts to your children, grandchildren or friends on New Year, birthdays and on other major occasions).
At the same time, one must also make an effort to widen his or her current social circles. So, you may try to reestablish connections with old friends you are not in touch with for some time. You should also look to make new friends by engaging in different social activities from your area. For example, you can engage yourself in volunteer programs, associate with alumni groups or join group lessons in something you take an interest in (for example, tai chi or yoga lessons as we mentioned already, a classical music appreciation group and the likes).
According to the recommendations of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), seniors aged 65 and older should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It may be useful for you to know with aging, many individuals experience a shift in their sleep schedule. Many start to feel sleepy from around early evening and tend to wake up quite early in the morning. However, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day. However, if you have a problem sleeping for more than two or three hours at a stretch or feel that youre suffering from insomnia, you should consult your physician and seek possible solutions.
Being independent doesnt necessarily mean that you have to stay alone or that you need to be able to perform all of the daily chores on your own. It is more about the feeling that you are able enough to take care of yourself. For example, you may as well be living with your children and grandchildren and can still be independent as long as you play your part within the household. It also means that if circumstances dictate that in the near future youll have to stay apart, youll be well-set to live alone (or with your spouse). The bottom line is, things will be fine as long as you dont feel dependant on someone or suffer from any kind of insecurity.
Some Other Common Precautions
Apart from the above, there are some necessary and common precautions you need to take in order to enjoy a healthy and long life as a senior. First of all, you must schedule a regular check-up with your doctors and should always make sure to stick to them.
Next, make sure to stay up-to-date with health screenings and immunizations. Annual wellness visit is open to all Medicare members, so make full use of them to receive the most recent information on vaccinations, preventative screenings, etc. Men, in particular, should get themselves periodically checked for prostate cancer. Women, on the other hand, are strongly recommended to begin on mammography screening already by the age 50.
All seniors are also strongly recommended to quit smoking at the earliest. This way, they will enjoy many health benefits including lower risks of lung damage, diabetes, cancer; lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol; and will enjoy an overall better immune system, stronger muscles, and bones.
When it comes to alcohol consumption, one would of course be better off if he or she can stay off of it altogether. Otherwise, CDC recommends that all individuals (men and women) aged 65+ should limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day.
Also, during the regular check-ups, one should ask his doctor if all of the previously prescribed medication are still necessary. It is always a good thing if you can cut down on your medication as many medicines can come with adverse side effects. On top of it, one must also consider the factor of interactions of one drug with another. Also, the more medicines you need to take on a daily basis, it becomes harder to remember how and when to take them all. In the process, you run the chance of skipping some vital medication that can have a serious impact on your health. However, one thing that you should never do is to stop a medication without asking your doctor first.
Letting a Professional Home Care Aide Help You
Finally, all seniors and elderly individuals should consider hiring the help of a home care aide for some of their daily chores. These include ADLS or Activities of Daily Living such as dressing, walking, feeding, bathing and toileting. In addition, all experienced, compassionate and empathetic caregivers will also help seniors with many household tasks such as light housekeeping, transportation, medication prompts, laundry, and more.
For seniors in South Florida you can find out more about home care services by calling:Boca Home Care Services (Broward and Palm Beach Counties) at (561) 989-0611Miami Home Care Services (Miami Dade) at (305)749-0445
These are home care registries that match seniors with screened, certified and compassionate home care aides who can provide the assistance you need to live a safe and independent life as you happily age well.