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Health & Wellness Tips for Seniors
As you age, it's essential to focus on being proactive about your health. While many things are beyond your control, you can easily incorporate some of the most effective wellness tips into even the busiest lifestyle.
With the average lifespan longer than ever before, these health measures are designed to improve your quality of life. Which of these health tips for seniors can you start practicing today?
1. Maintain activity
Do you consider yourself an active person? Moving more can go a long way toward improving circulation and building the muscle strength you need throughout your older years to keep your day-to-day independence.
- The CDC recommends one of the following for adults aged 65 and over:
- Moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking) for 150 minutes a week
- Vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (such as jogging) for 75 minutes every week, or
- An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity at least two days a week
You can break up aerobic sessions into 30-minute sessions or whatever you can tolerate.
The CDC also provides health advice for seniors who want to build muscle. It recommends muscle-strengthening at least two days a week with a focus on all the major muscle groups.
2. Keep an eye on nutrition
Your body goes through many changes after you turn 60, and you may find you're just not hungry for the same foods anymore. Whether your appetite demands it or not, you should try to fit in a wide variety of healthy foods and make sure you get enough liquids during the day to avoid dehydration.
Portion sizes may seem more extensive than what you need, and it's OK to divide up big restaurant portions into two. Just be careful about keeping foods for too long in the fridge. It can be hard to plan meals for one or two people, and items can go wrong before you know it.
Ask your physician about any food nutrition gaps you may be seeing. It's possible to supplement with vitamins or nutrition products to help keep you fueled when you have no appetite or are dealing with an illness. It may also be necessary to focus on foods you can eat more easily with sensitive teeth or gums, which is very common among older adults.
3. Stay social
Loneliness is a significant issue for older Americans, especially as more families move further away to school, start a job, or raise a family. Enjoying time with friends even once a week can make a big difference in how you feel.
If you no longer enjoy the hobbies you once did in your youth, consider meeting up with others in your community at a senior center, volunteer group, or activities club. Most gyms have classes designed just for those 65 and up, giving you the bonus of socialization and exercise at the same time.
4. Consider mental health
Feeling a bit down may not be a reason for concern. Still, you should constantly assess how you're feeling emotionally and mentally and take action if you think it's no longer manageable.
Research has shown that depression in older adults is associated with other serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Just as you wouldn't choose to ignore your blood sugar, it's not wise to pretend that symptoms of worsening mental health will go away on their own.
Keep an eye on the following:
- Significant changes in energy, appetite, or mood
- Sleep disturbances or sleeping too much
- Worry that won't go away
- Reliance on drugs or alcohol
- Feelings of anger or wanting to hurt others
- Thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself
If you're feeling any of the above, consider talking about them with an experienced mental health professional. The National Institute for Mental Health has resources for those who want to take action.
Also, it can be common to experience more seasonal mood issues during the colder months. Checking in with a mental health professional during this time is one of the more beneficial winter health tips for seniors.
5. Practice good hygiene habits
Washing your hands may not seem like one of the most life-changing wellness tips for seniors, but it can prevent many issues. Hygiene is essential during cold and flu season and any time you want to stop germs from disrupting your life.
The same goes for bathing and basic day-to-day hygiene tasks, which can get more difficult as you age. If these tasks are overwhelming for you, speak to your physician about ideas for managing them. Your health depends on it.
6. Sleep well
Energy levels and natural sleep patterns change when you grow older, and it may not be as easy to get eight hours each night. Add in additional issues, such as medication side effects, frequent urination, and restless leg syndrome, and it may be a challenge to lay down and drift off like you once did. Studies show that around 50 percent of older adults struggle to stay asleep, wake up too early, or feel drowsy during the day.
The Sleep Foundation offers suggestions to seniors struggling to get shut-eye and recommends keeping a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine and other substances that can interrupt sleep.
Exercise is equally important. It would be best to move several times per week anyway, and you may find that better sleep is a pleasant side effect. Also, it's best to keep any computers, TVs, and cell phone screens out of the bedroom. This helps to prevent distractions that keep you up longer.
Of all the health tips for the elderly and seniors that can make a big difference right away, getting adequate and restful sleep may be most important.
7. Don't put off appointments
Very few people like going to the doctor, especially when there's the fear that you may find out about a new health risk. Whether you're avoiding getting a physical due to time constraints or preference, it's always best to stay on top of your regular wellness checks and be seen for any new concerns.
If it's been a while since your last teeth cleaning, eye exam, or hearing test, put these on the calendar, too. If you need help arranging transportation, your Medicare provider may provide this benefit (depending on your coverage). In fact, of all the health secrets for seniors, some of the little-known perks of your Medicare plan can make it easier to take care of yourself.
When considering health tips for old age, remember that new habits can often take a long time to develop. If it's your first time watching your diet or getting out for walks, don't put too much pressure on yourself. Go slow, and don't hesitate to enlist the help of your health professional in any new attempts at being healthy. They can guide you in the safest way to make a change, and they can provide the right resources to help you be your very best.
It's also a great idea to join others who share your goal of healthy living. Seek out those with similar goals because it's always easier to do things with friends and loved ones.
Be sure to check out your Medicare coverage benefits, too! With KelseyCare Advantage, members get free access to the SilverSneakers program, which provides numerous ways to get active, improve health and wellness, and connect with others.