Growing old is a bittersweet journey of nostalgia and wisdom. Senior citizens contribute to 16.9% of the United States population. Since they comprise such a large population, their health and well-being are crucial to society. Unfortunately, senior citizens often neglect themselves and their needs due to old age. To counter this, below is a list of important health tips for senior citizens to help them take better care of themselves.
1. Monitor Your Health
Just like other age groups, health issues among senior citizens can be divided into physical and mental health issues. But unlike other age groups, senior citizens are less likely to get treatment on time due to neglect, fatigue, and forgetfulness. It can be seriously concerning for their well-being as their mind and body are already fragile and unable to heal without external aid in treatment and medication. Hence, a timely diagnosis is essential for the elderly to recognize and rectify health issues before it’s too late.
Regarding physical health, being vigilant about monthly checkups, screenings, and vaccinations are all good ways of ensuring that problems can be identified and mitigated quickly. However, you must consult a doctor or healthcare professional immediately if a serious concern presents itself. For mental health, monitoring mood changes, thoughts, and behavioral patterns and looking out for symptoms of particular mental health issues is vital to identify any alarming concerns. If a mental health concern is found, consulting a therapist, psychiatrist, or mental health treatment facility such as Vista Pines Health is necessary. This way, senior citizens can stay on top of managing their health.
2. Move Your Body
Seniors generally find themselves having lots of free time on their hands and not knowing how to spend it. Exercise is arguably the most beneficial use of this free time for their overall well-being. It is a protective factor for noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer, associated with improved mental health, delay in the onset of dementia, and improved quality of life and well-being. With these benefits, it is evident how essential it is for senior citizens to move their bodies. This movement need not be with heavy gym machinery and equipment as that might damage fragile muscles. It is recommended to have at least 3 hours a week of moderately intense activity, such as brisk walking, or 1.5 hours a week of highly intense activity, such as running, hiking, and jogging. Another great form of movement is through spiritual practices such as yoga, which helps with physical activity and breathing, and meditation. By following these recommendations, seniors can prevent many physical and mental health ailments from developing while utilizing their time for beneficial activity.
3. Focus On Your Diet
“You are what you eat” is a phrase that should be complied with as much as it is heard. While people of all ages should consume a healthy diet, seniors have an extra need to do so. The digestive system slows down with old age, and a lack of appetite makes itself apparent, which results from poor dietary intake that is insufficient in quality and quantity. To curb this issue, senior citizens must make it a habit to consume three proper meals a day containing ingredients from all five food groups, particularly protein for muscle growth and digestion and vitamins and minerals for an effective immune system. Furthermore, they can practice what is known as Mindful Eating, whereby they focus their undivided attention on mealtime and the experience of consuming food. Mindful eating is known to help individuals make better dietary choices, such as eating organic food that helps with health issues they may be suffering from.
4. Rest and Rejuvenate
One of the best ways to show your body and mind that you care for them is by giving them much-needed rest. Your body thanks you in return by repairing cells, restoring energy, and releasing molecules like hormones and proteins. On the other hand, your mind thanks you by storing new information, getting rid of toxic waste, and nerve cells communicating and organizing, which supports healthy brain function. These important processes, which occur during sleep, ultimately lead to greater well-being. So, ensure you get your recommended 7-8 hours of sleep as a senior citizen. To make sleeping well a habit, try sleeping in one stretch, refrain from naps, get your sleep cycle to match your body clock, and avoid screens, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bed.
5. Pay Extra Attention to Your Sensory Health
With age comes a depletion in sensory health, meaning your innate ability to see or hear may weaken or become hypersensitive. If it’s weakening, you might have trouble hearing what’s being said or seeing what’s in front of you. Moreover, hypersensitivity will make loud noises and bright lights unbearable for you. Whichever one it is, you will gain awareness as to its presence sooner or later after your 50s. Thankfully, with the right equipment, such as a hearing aid or prescription glasses, you are all set to have the ability to experience your senses despite their depletion.
6. Be an Active Member of the Society
Due to age, giving back to the community and participating in a healthy dialogue with community members, friends and acquaintances should never be stopped. Free time on their hands should allow seniors to spend even more hours conversing, participating in communal activities, and helping solve societal problems by sharing their wisdom. Moreover, many events, seminars, and activities are organized in communities specifically for seniors (game nights, gardening, cooking, and volunteering to name a few), which are engaging and enlightening. Participating in these events can help them live a happier and healthier life.
7. Look for Hazards in Your Surroundings
A house is baby proofed to keep young ones safe. In the same way, seniors must also “senior-proof” their houses to ensure that no health or safety hazard exists in their surroundings. It involves removing sharp objects, rugs, or unwanted furniture that can be easily bumped into while walking, making sure fire and smoke alarms work properly, installing a stair lift to avoid using stairs manually, and installing other adaptive equipment or monitoring devices. As mentioned above, health issues affect seniors more seriously than other age groups due to fragility, and even a minor trip, fall, or injury can be a matter of life or death. Hence, safe surroundings shall lead to a safe senior.
8. Organize Your Life
When it comes to seniors, their weakened bodies are often accompanied by weakened minds. Memory loss, in particular, is a big issue that the elderly must counter. An efficient way of doing so is by getting organized. All areas of a senior’s life need organizing, whether keeping up with medication and doctor visits or remembering small tasks like calling someone back or marinating steak for their dinner. Seniors can better manage their daily tasks by using to-do lists, setting up reminders, creating a medication box for weekly medicines at the beginning of each week, and meal prepping. That means they do not have to do things last minute, which helps them reduce stress.
Senior citizens are respected and appreciated in all societies that value their wisdom and insight. However, the trials and tribulations of old age can be challenging for them and their spirit. Hence, they need to pay extra attention to their health needs, practice self-care, and be patient with themselves. In turn, this will improve their health and well-being, allowing them to tackle all challenges head-on. With a positive approach and adherence to the tips mentioned above, old age can be a blessing for all who experience it!