As you age, your body and mind go through a multitude of changes that can sometimes make it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you have to give up on living a vibrant and fulfilling life. You can enjoy a happy and active life with a little effort and the right strategies.
From exercise to nutrition, sleep to stress management, and mental stimulation to regular health screenings, there are countless ways for the elderly to maintain their health and well-being. In this article, we’ll delve into these key elements of a healthy lifestyle and explore practical and creative ways for seniors to maintain their health and happiness as they age.
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Watch out for potential health concerns
The reality is that with progressing age, the immune system is no longer as strong as it once was, and the body cannot bounce back from sickness as easily as it once could. More often than you might think, unfortunate diseases arrive unannounced.
According to the CDC, approximately 80% of seniors suffer from at least one chronic disease, and 50% have at least two. As of 2021, the most common ailments among elderly populations in the United States were cardiovascular diseases, respiratory tract infections, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, kidney disease, influenza, and cancers like mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos, common in construction workers, shipyard workers, military veterans, and industrial workers. Reports by CDC show that almost 3000 new cases are diagnosed in the US each year. Although rare, it is a significant health concern for older adults since the prognosis data is unpromising. The period between initial exposure and development of active disease is over 10 to 50 years, and the average age of diagnosis is 70 years. The earlier you get your symptoms checked and receive a diagnosis, the sooner treatment can begin.
Try to Stay Active
One of the most important things seniors can do is physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance, which can help prevent falls and other injuries. Additionally, exercise can boost mood and cognitive function, which is especially important for seniors at risk of depression or dementia. It’s important to discuss with a doctor before starting a new exercise program and choose safe and enjoyable activities, such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
The CDC guidelines advise adults over 65 to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, like brisk walking, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise, like hiking or jogging.
Consume a balanced diet
A balanced diet is essential for seniors, as they require more nutrients than they did in their younger years. Eating a diet composed of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, whole grains, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, boost energy levels, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. It is also important to stay hydrated, as seniors are more susceptible to dehydration.
Studies show that the quality of diet is one of the key factors for preventing the diseases of old age and preserving overall health during aging.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting enough sleep is crucial for seniors, as they often experience sleep disturbances due to changes in sleep patterns and health conditions. Seven to nine hours of sleep every night can help improve energy levels, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost the immune system. It’s also important to create a relaxing sleep environment, such as a cool and dark room, and to avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime.
Social activity is another important factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Participating in social activities such as volunteering, joining a club or group, or visiting friends and family can help improve mental and emotional well-being, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation, and boost overall health and happiness.
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Try to Stay Mentally Active
Mental activity is important for maintaining good brain health. Keeping the mind active and engaged can help stimulate brain function, keep the memory intact, improve cognitive performance, and promote overall well-being.
Studies have shown that mentally stimulating activities can help slow down age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of developing dementia. They can also help improve mood, reduce stress, and promote overall well-being in older adults. In addition, mental activity helps keep older adults socially engaged and connected with others, reducing loneliness and depression. These activities include:
- Reading: Whether it’s a novel, a biography, or a newspaper, reading can help keep the mind active.
- Crossword puzzles: Crosswords, Sudoku, and other similar puzzles can help improve memory and problem-solving skills.
- Games: Board games, card games, and video games can help stimulate the mind and improve cognitive function.
- Learning: Whether learning a new language, taking a class, or simply learning about a new topic, engaging in new learning experiences can help improve cognitive function.
- Volunteering: Volunteering for a cause you care about can provide a sense of purpose and lower the risk of depression.
- Creative activities: Engaging in creative activities, such as painting, drawing, or writing, can help improve mental function and give a sense of purpose.
- Music: Listening to music, singing, or playing an instrument can help improve your mood and give you a hobby.
- Meditation and mindfulness: Practicing this can help reduce stress, improve focus, and promote overall well-being.
Maintaining good health in old age can help improve life quality and increase the likelihood of living independently for a longer period. It is vital to remember that each individual’s health needs are unique, and working with a doctor to develop a personalized plan for maintaining health and well-being as a senior is advisable. By making good health a priority, seniors can ensure that they are able to live a fulfilling and energized life and truly live by the concept that age is just a number.