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Healthy Aging Month

Health Tips for Seniors for 2019

Sponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Healthy Aging Month iin September s a yearly initiative geared towards creating awareness on the importance of healthy aging. Aimed at encouraging seniors to adopt healthy lifestyles, the observance drives the importance of seniors maintaining physical, social, and mental health.

September is Healthy Aging Month So, in the run-up to Healthy Aging Month, which is celebrated in September, here we’re focusing on some of the best health tips for seniors, which will help you lead happier, longer lives.

As our biological clocks tick, aches and pains, debilitating illnesses, and life-threatening conditions become all the more real. From high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease to osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease, there are a host of conditions seniors become vulnerable to.

However, there is hope on the horizon. Most of these illnesses can be avoided with a combination of several factors, including diet, regular exercise, mental health management, and other lifestyle changes.

Diet

The mental and physical health benefits of a well-balanced diet can't be ignored. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a significant number of diseases that seniors typically suffer from are a result of unhealthy diets.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber provides essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Elderly nutritional programs typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Five portions per day
  • Proteins – Salmon and beans
  • Fiber – Nuts, brown rice, whole grain bread and pasta, and wholegrain cereal
  • Calcium – Milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables
  • Iron – Lentils, beans (kidney, lima, navy), spinach, tofu, clams, and chicken liver
  • Carbohydrates – Sweet potato and brown rice
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Tuna, salmon, sardines, soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseed

Depending on your health, your doctor may recommend a specific diet. For example, Diabetics should limit their carbohydrate intake. Similarly, seniors who suffer from cardiovascular disease should have less salt.

In addition, portion size is as important as the quality of food. Calories consumed should be proportionate to an individual's metabolic needs. For seniors, this means an average of anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day. What's important is that you avoid high-calorie food that has low nutritional value, like desserts with high sugary content, chips, soda, and alcohol.

Exercise

Senior couple bicycling together

Adopting regular exercise into your schedule will help control and mitigate the risk of several health conditions. A good fitness regime is known to keep illnesses like muscle weakness, depression, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, some cancers, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and a host of other conditions at bay. And here are some of the ways how regular exercise helps:

  • Burns extra calories and helps in weight maintenance.
  • Increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, which promotes heart, lung, and bone health.
  • Increases the proportion of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular and peripheral artery disease.
  • Improves cognitive function, which is mental health.
  • Enhances stamina, balance, and physical endurance, thereby reducing falls and injuries.
  • Improves your mood and keeps depression at bay.
  • Provides better quality of sleep.

Every week, seniors 65 years and over should get in at least:

  • Two and a half hours of moderate exercise like brisk walking, biking, and swimming OR
  • One hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous exercise like jogging

By incorporating a good amount of physical activity into your daily routine, you will fast-track your way to good health.

 

 

Mental health management

Being in good shape isn’t just about eating and exercising right. Mental health is important, as well. According to WHO, as many as 20% of adults aged 60+ suffer from a mental or neurological disorder.

While many seniors have good mental health, several are at risk of developing some neurological or mental disorder further down the line. And the more we age, the more vulnerable we become to experiencing one, or in worst-case scenarios, several conditions at the same time; the most common being dementia, depression, and anxiety.

That said, it’s never too late to make a change. Boosting your brain health will not only help it improve its function but will also enhance your memory as well. So, try at least one brain activity every week, like:

  • Word games, Sudoku, crosswords, and other puzzles
  • Learning an instrument or a new language or join a cooking class
  • Listen to music and start a diary
  • Do something creative like painting and drawing

Other lifestyle tips

  • Balance your life for Healthy AgingRest – Sleep bolsters concentration and memory. The ideal amount of shut-eye you should get is anywhere from 7.5 to 9 hours per night. If you suffer from sleep deprivation, speak to your doctor as it could signify a medical condition such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea.
  • Schedule annual health check-ups – Certain illnesses like diabetes and hypertension can go undetected. A yearly health screening will increase the chances of the condition being diagnosed in its early stage. And early treatment might mitigate the risk of long-term complications.
  • Visit your dentist – Some mouth infections are associated with serious health conditions like heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. Plus, the older we get, the more cavities we are prone to as well. That is why it's important to schedule dental check-ups at least once every six months.
  • Learn to deal with stress – The higher your stress levels, the more your body produces the stress hormone cortisol, which adversely affects your immune system and various other functions of your body.
  • Get preventive care – Annual vaccinations are a great way to ensure you stay fit. While pneumococcal vaccines safeguard against pneumonia and meningitis, flu vaccines decrease the risk of flu by 40% to 60%.
  • Take supplements – Supplements are a great way to boost your immunity. Consult with your physician about which ones you might need to take.
  • Socialize – Spending time with family and friends is one of the best medicines at any age. While it decreases stress, anxiety, and the risk of depression, it also improves your self-esteem sense and self-worth and keeps you mentally engaged as well.

You know the adage – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? It couldn’t be less true in this case. Age shouldn’t be a criterion that holds you back from achieving overall better quality of life. On the contrary, the older a person gets, the more emphasis they should lay on adopting a healthier lifestyle.

With Health Aging Month in September, try and adopt a few of the health tips mentioned above. In doing so, you won't just be giving yourself the opportunity of enjoying a happier, longer life; you will also be gifting your family, children, and grandchildren the opportunity of making more beautiful memories with you.

Written By Alicia Lam Taracido

 

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