What Lifestyle Should Our Elders Have to Keep Them In Shape?
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No matter the age, every person must maintain an active lifestyle to keep their body strong and be in the best position for health and wellness. But that need amplifies when we reach old age. For most people 65 years old or older, the chances of getting coughs or colds are higher, and they can progress to more severe illnesses.
The thing is, the population of the world is getting older. According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization, the number of people aged 60 years and older will outnumber children younger than five years by 2020. Moreover, it is estimated that by 2050, there will be 434 million people aged 80 years old and up.
So how do we prepare for this? For the elderly members of our family, here are some lifestyle changes that they need to apply to live a long and comfortable life.
Eating Healthy Food Regularly
As a person’s age progresses, they will have trouble in their metabolism and absorption of nutrients. Some people also lose their sense of taste and smell, which harms their desire to eat food. These things make it much more essential to consider developing healthy eating habits as soon as they can.
One of the things elders will have problems with is shopping for food or preparing their meals. If you want to keep them healthy, a carer must be given the responsibility for this, whether a family member or a health professional.
What should a senior’s diet look like?
- High in fiber
- More vegetables
- Lean protein
- Whole grain
- More fruits
- Lots and lots of water
- Less sugar
- Less fat
How can you convince your older family member to eat more?
- Eat with them, or let them eat with friends and family
- Encourage snacking
- Establish a meal routine
- Try appetite stimulants or meal replacement drinks
- Worst case – let them choose what they want to eat
Maintaining Physical Activities
With the desire to rest and relax, there are high chances that an elderly person will lean towards living a sedentary lifestyle. However, some researchers suggest that regular physical activities for seniors are the primary contributor to the longevity of life.
What type of exercise should a senior person do?
- Balance and flexibility exercises like yoga and tai chi
- Cardio workouts like swimming, climbing stairs, dancing, and walking
- Strength training like using resistance bands, free weights, and other exercises
What are the benefits that elderly people can enjoy when they exercise regularly?
Exercising can help them maintain a healthy weight or lose extra weight in the body, to avoid further health concerns. For those who already have a chronic disease or other illnesses, exercise can strengthen the immune system, improve blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart diseases, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Seniors have an increased chance of falling and getting injured with accidents. But, with constant exercise, they can have better posture and flexibility which gives them strength and balance. Physical activity also helps in improving the quality of sleep. Seniors will feel how it becomes easier to fall asleep faster, sleeping deeper, and feeling a sense of energy when they wake up.
Exercising The Brain
The brain needs regular stimulation, especially towards the latter part of life. When people retire from their former employment or profession, the brain might lose feeling challenged and feel bored from losing the activities they used to have all day every day.
How can the elderly keep their mind smart and alert?
- Read books
- Play board games, like chess or Scrabble
- Answer puzzles, like Sudoku, Crossword, or Word Search
- Learn a new language
- Play a new musical instrument
- Explore new hobbies, like painting or crocheting
Sleep problems become a normal thing as people get older. Usually, older people wake up randomly throughout the night, feeling sleepy throughout the day, or they find trouble falling asleep in the first place.
How can seniors form better sleeping habits?
- Turn off the lights before going to bed as they can cause sleepiness
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive for better sleep
- Create bedtime rituals like listening to music or having a warm bath to make them feel sleepy
Socializing With The Community
As naturally social human beings, elderly people must be given the chance to interact with the people in their life, may it be family, friends, or members of the community.
In an article in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, people 65+ years old who get the chance to socialize get to enjoy higher levels of physical activity, better moods, and lesser negative emotions.
What social activities can seniors enjoy?
- Volunteer activities
- Book club
- Ballroom dancing
- Group walks
- Pet therapy sessions
- Bingo nights
Ideally, every person wants to get all the nutrients that their body needs from the food they eat. However, that is nearly never the case, especially when you become a little older. The body needs specific target amounts for each vitamin and mineral to ensure your body stays in the best shape.
Get the vitamins and minerals that you need through supplementation. For the elder members of your family, caregivers and health professionals can recommend pills, capsules, powders, gels, liquids, and extracts depending on the nutrient needs.
What should you look for in food supplements in your 60s and 70s?
- Vitamin D – Something you can source from tuna, liver, cheese, or eggs, Vitamin D helps reduce chronic pain and help prevent heart disease.
- Omega-3 – For better brain protection, people should have Omega-3 supplements to increase brain cell growth, enhance memory, uplift the mood, and improve blood circulation. You can usually source Omega-3 from walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed oil.
- Vitamin B12 – According to studies, having less B12 in the body can increase the chances of getting dementia. To limit the odds of that happening, you can add clams, beef liver, and red meat to your diet.
Proactively Preventing Health Threats
Just like what the adage says, “prevention is better than cure.” As seniors are usually the most vulnerable sector of the community, especially when you touch on coughs, colds, and the flu, caregivers must go the extra mile to prevent anyone from being sick.
What are some simple ways seniors can do to prevent getting sick?
- Get vaccinated for the flu just to be on the safe side.
- Wash hands and sanitize them regularly, especially after going out.
- Keep the living environment clean
- Avoid unnecessary traveling and exposure to large crowds
- Make sure that the home is safe from unfortunate incidents from appliances or furniture malfunctioning
Visiting The Doctor Regularly
Finally, elders and their caregivers should make sure that older adults see a professional regularly. Admittedly, they may come with a price, but this routine must be considered a vital investment.
One thing that people should do at the very least is to go to the doctor at least once a year. If possible, it would do older adults a lot of good if they have a regular doctor who will monitor their specific cases and compare their health status as weeks and months progress.
What medical tests should seniors take annually?
- Complete Blood Count and other blood tests to check for high cholesterol levels or vitamins and mineral deficiencies
- Glucose tests to prevent diabetes
- Thyroid tests to check hormone levels
- Chest X-ray to check the lungs
- A fecal test to check for parasites or blood in the stool
- Mammogram for females to check for breast cancer
- Prostate exam for males to check for prostate cancer
- Bone density test to check for osteoporosis
- Vision test to check for cataracts, blurry vision, and other similar illnesses
Why should seniors never fail to visit their doctor at least once a year?
Without tests to check out the body, they will never know if they already have existing health issues. In the worst-case scenario, these concerns might balloon into more severe health problems.
Chronic illnesses that can ruin a person’s quality of life can be addressed by a doctor. A conversation with them can, at the very least, eliminate symptoms brought by the disease.
Without the assistance of a health professional, there can be problems with the prescription drugs that they take, whether on mixing different drugs at the same time or using the wrong dosage.
Getting older does not really mean saying goodbye to a fun and happy life. By putting a senior’s health at a priority, you open doors for them to feel comfortable and make the most of the rest of their days.
At the end of the day, they deserve the best care and that means making sure they live a healthy lifestyle.
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