Have your good health habits slowly turned into bad ones as you’ve aged? Eager to jump over that rut and start anew?
Thankfully, humans have the free-will to make of life what we can, when we can. Breathe easy, senior netizens. There are changes you can start making today to improve your overall health for the coming years.
Digestion slows with age, so adding fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables can be particularly effective for seniors. However, it is important to keep in mind that anyone who eats more fiber should also drink more water, as it helps flush waste and keeps joints lubricated. Need a guide? This graphic from the AARP shows what your plate should look.
FYI: Senior centers often provide a healthy lunch, either free or at a greatly reduced price, via state or municipal programs. Check if yours does – it’s a guaranteed healthy meal during the week!
Get more sleep
If you wake up tired or have insomnia or sleep apnea, it is imperative to change your sleep habits. You need 7-8 hours each night, so turn off smartphones, tablets, and TVs two hours before bedtime, as the blue light mimics daylight and tricks your body into thinking it should be awake. It is also important to keep your room temperature cool (68 degrees) and to make sure your bed is comfortable enough for a good night’s rest.
QUICK FIX: If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for at least 7 years, consider looking into a new one that’s more accommodating (i.e. less harsh on joints) for seniors.
Focus on disease/illness prevention
Don’t wait until you’re sick to address your health – which is great advice for seniors and caregivers alike. It’s easier to prevent illness than to heal it. Caregivers should do this by helping elders stay on top of appointments, medications, screenings, and vaccinations.
REMINDER: Seniors are more likely to develop pneumonia or shingles. Ask for those shots the next time you are seeing your doctor.
No one is saying to sign Grandpa up for a 5K after a hip replacement. What we are saying, however, is that there are exercises that can be extremely beneficial, at any age. Walking is a great example, and there are exercise routines (on a chair, in a pool) that will keep limbs moving and hearts pumping regardless of mobility level. The National Council on Aging recommends 30 minutes per day, five times per week, devoting two days to muscle strengthening.
BONUS: Exercise relieves depression. Seniors can feel lonely and isolated, so it is important that we all are aware that exercise is a wonderful, free, effective antidote.
Make new friends and stay busy
Many seniors experience losing friends due to age or illness, or because it’s harder to get around. They’re retired or unable to work. Without stimulation, their bodies and brains can atrophy. They need friends and activities: Sudoku, crossword puzzles, playing chess with children or grandchildren. Regular interaction at a senior home or center. Help them make connections in both their brain and the world.
Aging is not always going to be easy, but it is important to keep in mind that there are some helpful tips and tricks to staying healthy as we do get older.
Elise Morgan has always loved writing and enjoys covering numerous topics. She got into writing about seniors, aging, and caregiving because she was a volunteer caregiver in Asheville, NC. She enjoyed it so much she started writing helpful tips and for seniors and caregivers alike.