The senior years of life are a time of reflection and joy. You look back at everything you’ve achieved. You move to another city to enjoy the carefree retirement years. And you finally take up all those activities you always wanted to pursue.
But with all the excitement of this new life chapter, one crucial aspect is gradually creeping up on you: your health. It’s natural to experience a dip in physical and mental health as you age. You might experience joint and muscle pains, fatigue, decreased energy levels, and cognitive decline.
But that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
So, if you’re in your golden years, here are some tips to help you stay in the best shape possible:
Regular Check-Ups and Screenings
High blood pressure is a prevailing health issue among seniors. The CDC reports that about 70 percent of American seniors aged 65 and above suffer from high blood pressure and don’t even know about it.
High blood pressure is a precursor to serious illnesses like heart disease and stroke. But since it’s symptom-free, measuring it is the only way to know you are suffering. It is why regular check-ups and screenings are essential.
Moreover, if you have served in an industry that might have exposed you to toxic chemicals, you must get tested for potential illnesses. Mesothelioma, for instance, is common in veterans and is caused by continuous exposure to asbestos fibers.
Since the condition qualifies as an occupational hazard, you can avail of compensation for it through mesothelioma settlements. Connect with a lawyer to help you navigate the process.
There are other screenings too that seniors should undergo. These include tests for:
- Vision and hearing
- Mammograms and colonoscopies
Healthy Eating Habits
Aging slows down metabolism. It means seniors aged 65 or above need fewer calories than younger adults. And so, the definition of healthy eating shifts slightly.
A healthy diet for seniors should include reducing the amount of salt and sugar while increasing their intake of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains. It is also essential to ensure they meet the recommended daily servings of dairy products.
Moreover, you should also focus on portion sizes. Eating small portions throughout the day can help in maintaining a balanced diet. Anything in excess can be harmful to your health.
Some minerals and vitamins can help boost your energy levels.
- Calcium, for instance, is essential for bone health. It helps you fight osteoporosis
- Vitamin C helps you fight off infections and boosts immunity
Some studies have also found that Vitamin B12 benefits seniors as it can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
There are also certain minerals that you must avoid. For instance, an excess of Vitamin A can increase your chances of fractures. Too much potassium can make it hard for your kidneys to flush out the salt.
Make Moderate Exercise a Part of Life
It is hard for seniors to exercise regularly. You might feel weak or experience extreme fatigue or joint pain. But it doesn’t mean you should give up altogether.
Doing moderate exercise can bring about many health benefits. It can help you:
- Maintain muscle strength and balance
- Boost bone density
- Mitigate the risk of heart disease and diabetes
- Improve mental health
- Help with weight management
Plus, it can keep you feeling more energetic and active. In recent research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, it has been revealed that regular physical activity can reduce one’s risk of having dementia or Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50%!
Walking is an excellent exercise for seniors. You can start slow and adjust your pace as you gain more strength. Other exercise options include swimming, water aerobics, and chair yoga.
Boost Brain Activity
As we age, our brains become less agile and forgetful. And so seniors are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s and different forms of dementia. Vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia are some common conditions.
But all is not lost yet! Keeping your brain active can delay the onset of these age-related mental illnesses. You can’t avoid the aging process but you can slow it down.
You should engage in activities that require active problem-solving and mental effort. It could include playing chess, solving crosswords, or jigsaw puzzles.
You can also join a local senior center or a community to socialize. The feeling of belonging is essential for our mental health.
Reading is also a great way to stimulate your brain. It not only helps with emotional well-being, but it can also sharpen your memory and cognitive skills.
Get Adequate Sleep
According to the National Institute on Aging, older adults require the same amount of sleep as all adults. But sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, dementia, or depression can make it difficult for some seniors to fall asleep or stay asleep. So, ensure you get at least seven to nine hours of sleep.
In such cases, you should see a sleep specialist to help you manage the condition.
You can also make changes to your lifestyle and bedroom environment that might help improve sleep quality. Here are a few tips:
- Take a warm bath: A warm shower or bath before sleeping helps reduce body temperature, which can prepare your body for sleep.
- Limit caffeine intake: Caffeine can affect your sleep. So, avoid drinking coffee after 2 pm and limit its intake in the morning.
- Avoid screens: The blue light from our gadgets affects our circadian rhythm and can affect sleep. So, avoid using phones, tablets, or laptops for at least two hours before bed.
You must also make your room’s environment suitable for sleeping. Dim the lights, spray some lavender or chamomile, and try to keep it cool.
Manage Stress & Anxiety
Stress is part of life. From managing finances to fear of losing a spouse or not being able to do things that you used to, there are many sources of stress in the life of a senior.
But these stressors can take a toll on our physical and mental health. So, it is essential to manage stress to stay healthy.
Try meditation or yoga to calm your mind and body. You can also engage in activities that you enjoy – like gardening, painting, or playing cards with friends.
Learn how to take a break and relax consciously.
Sometimes, anxiety can be so debilitating that we cannot even think of managing it alone. In such a case, it is best to reach out for help. So, talk to your doctor about managing stress and anxiety.
As we age, our body changes, and so do the ways to stay healthy. So, keeping up with these changing trends is imperative to stay healthy and fit.
Balance physical activity with equal amounts of rest. Try to move around, get regular check-ups, and engage in activities you enjoy – this is the best way to stay healthy as a senior.
Moreover, reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed or find it difficult to cope with your health and wellness. There are plenty of support groups, professionals, and doctors who can help you stay healthy and fit.
Take care of yourself, and stay happy and healthy!