Aging gracefully is about being vibrant--in mind, and in body. Eating well, moving daily through moderate forms of exercise, and spending high quality (and pain-free!) time with the ones you love is wha the 'golden years' is all about! Here are three ways the senior in your life (spouse, parent, relative or friend) can truly live the 'golden years' to its fullest potential!
We all want to not only live longer, but also live better, staying healthy enough to continue doing the things we love. Inheriting good genes certainly helps, but research also suggests that how well we age is largely dependent on you. It’s never too late to make positive changes that help you live a happier and healthier life. Here are a few tips living better:
Eat a variety of colorful foods. As we get older, we need fewer calories, so choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The more varied the colors, the wider the range of nutrients you’re likely to get. Also, try to eat two servings of salmon, brook trout, or other fish rich in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids a week.
Exercise to reduce risk of falls. Walking for as little as 30 minutes, 3 times a week can help you stay physically fit, strengthen your bones, mentally sharp, lift your spirits—and lower your risk of falls. That’s important because falls are a leading cause of fractures, serious injuries, and death among older adults. Cycling, swimming, and light to moderate weight training can also be very beneficial.
Get plenty of sleep. Older people need us sleep than younger adults. New recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation suggest 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye a night. If you’re getting that much and are still sleepy during the day, see your healthcare professional.
You may have a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing briefly, but repeatedly, while sleeping. Among other things, untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Challenge your mind. Participating in a continuing education program, learning a new language, taking an art or music class, planting a garden, and engaging in social give-and-take with other people can all help keep your brain sharp.
Get your medications checked. When you visit your healthcare professional, bring either all the prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements you take, or a complete list that notes the names of each, the doses you take, and how often you take them.
Ask your healthcare provider to review everything you brought or put on your list. He or she should make sure they’re safe for you to take, and that they don’t interact in harmful ways. The older you are, and the more medicines you take, the more likely you are to experience medication side effects, even from drugs bought over-the-counter.
Speak up when you feel down. About 20 percent older adults suffer from depression or anxiety. Lingering sadness, tiredness, loss of appetite or pleasure from things you once enjoyed, difficultly sleeping, worry, irritability, and wanting to be alone much of the time can all be signs that you need help. Tell your healthcare professional right away. There are many good treatments for these problems.
Get your shots. They’re not just for kids! Must-have vaccines for seniors include those that protect against pneumonia, tetanus/diphtheria, shingles, and the flu, which kills thousands of older adults in the US every year.
Find the right healthcare professional and make the most of your visits. See your healthcare professional regularly, answer his or her questions frankly, ask any questions you have, and follow his or her advice. If you have multiple, chronic health problems, your best bet may be to see a geriatrics healthcare professional—someone with advanced training that prepares her to care for the most complex patients.
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